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Partnering for decent work - 32nd Annual Labour Law Conference

With South Africa's sixth national and provincial democratic elections just completed where the rights of workers and service delivery were top of mind in electioneering messages, this year's theme for the Annual Labour Law Conference - Partnering for decent work - could not be more relevant.

The conference, to be held in Johannesburg on 22 and 23 August, coincides with the centenary anniversary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), founded at the end of the First World War in 1919.

The organisation strives to meet the decent work agenda with its international labour standards. South Africa, a signatory to the ILO, bases the various labour and equity provisions of the constitution and other statutory provisions on these international standards.

"The first event of the ILO’s centenary celebrations this year was the launch of an independent report on how to achieve a future of work that provides decent and sustainable work opportunities for all,” says Nicci Whitear-Nel, Chair of the Annual Labour Law Conference.

“The report is to undertake an in-depth examination of the future of work to provide the analytical basis for the delivery of social justice in the 21st century. It was launched in January and will be submitted to the centenary session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland in June. It will also be the basis for the keynote address at the Annual Labour Law Conference.”

With topics like ‘Do workers have anything to celebrate 25 years into democracy?’, ‘Formalising the informal’, ‘Gender dynamics in the workplace’, ‘Partnering for decent work in the region’ and ‘The world in turmoil’, the plenary sessions will echo this theme.

The conference will also present case law and legislative updates, as well as workshops to discuss those issues that have challenged The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and the judiciary and the broader labour community since last year’s conference.

“The global, regional and national issues in 2019 are proving to be no less challenging than those that faced the world in 1919 at the end of World War I. Hopefully the tripartite alliance and other partners will meet the decent work challenges of today with equal dedication and vigour,” says Whitear-Nel.

The conference will be attended by labour law and human resource professionals, trade unionists and members from the public service, attracting more than 800 delegates.

The themes continue to reflect a labour law in transition and the speakers are prominent labour law and economic experts. They will address many of the current controversial and topical issues which continue to challenge policy makers, business leaders, SMEs, trade unions, employees and those role-players who fall outside the formal sector and civil society.

The conference is a firm fixture on the annual labour law calendar. It started in Kwazulu-Natal in the late 1980s, after the Wiehahn Commission of Enquiry, when trade unions and the labour movement were acknowledged as a strategic force in the move towards a democratic South Africa.

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