n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Drivers of public sector unions' wage demands in a low-inflation and recessionary environment in South Africa

Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



The purpose of the study was to establish the drivers of wage demands by public sector unions in a low-inflation and recessionary environment in South Africa. The study therefore sought to explore the experiences, views and perceptions of employee representatives on the wage bargaining councils. The objectives, as derived from the overall aim of the research, were to determine the factors that influence the wage demands, to establish the extent to which wage demands are linked to economic conditions and organisational goals, and to highlight the methods that are required to address the wage gap. It is hoped that it will contribute to the ongoing debate between the employer and trade unions regarding wage bargaining behaviour.

The study is qualitative in nature and a modern qualitative approach, in which personal interview techniques were applied, was utilised.
The findings revealed that trade unions utilise various methods to determine their wage bargaining behaviour, and that their involvement in the budgeting and objective setting process is of paramount importance. Public sector trade unions are key role players in the wage determination process and the improvement of the working standards and conditions of their members. Their wage bargaining behaviour should therefore be considered in setting organisational objectives.
The research adds to the body of knowledge on the drivers of wage demands in the public sector.

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