(Short Learning Programme)


One has to simply watch the news to appreciate the volatility and uncertainty which characterise the South African employment relations scenario. Unrealistic trade union demands, a drive to narrow the wage gap, restrictive labour laws, and an annual ‘strike season’ are but some of the issues faced by owners and managers of business. At the core of these processes however lies the relationship between employer and employee.

The main purpose of this module is therefore to introduce students to the theories, practices and institutions of industrial relations. The module examines the role, objectives and the interactions of the main actors in employment relations – employers (employer organisations), employees (trade unions), and the government.


  • Those who wish to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key employment laws, concepts, principles and theories of employment relations in the business environment.
  • Those who wish to demonstrate the ability to apply and evaluate employment laws and employment relations practices in a business environment.
  • Those who wish to demonstrate the ability to integrate and adapt employment relations practices in accordance with employment laws to address a variety of situations within the business environment.

IIE accredited  British Accreditation Council 


Students should meet the following requirements:

  • Be proficient in English.
  • Preferably have three to four years work experience.
  • Must be able to engage in self-directed study.



Industrial Relations is offered as a part-time SLP. The duration of the SLP is 10 weeks, either on a Saturday morning or once a week.    


The SLP fee includes all programme material, which becomes the property of the student. This material constitutes a valuable source of ongoing reference.   


Students will be required to complete assignments and an examination.   


Introducing Some Fundamentals of Employment Relations
  • Describe how employment relations as a field of study has evolved from traditional employment relations;
  • Illustrate the implications of the different ideological perspectives on the conflict / common ground dynamics in employment relations;
  • Define the multidimensional nature of employment relations using practical examples;
  • Discuss the five employment relations role players, emphasising the role of the three primary role players;
  • Discuss the implications of the nature of justice perceptions for the practice of employment relations;
  • Discuss the relevance and nature of conflict, power and common ground dynamics in an employment relations context;
  • Explain the influence of environmental factors on employment relations dynamics.
Actors, or Role-Players and Stakeholders in Employment Relations
  • Describe the tripartite and multipartite perspective on and approach to employment relations systems;
  • Discuss the role and nature of employers’ organisations in South Africa;
  • Describe the nature, policies, objectives and purpose of trade unions;
  • Distinguish between the different roles the state plays as a secondary partner in employment;
  • Identify and explain which parties form p
Collective Bargaining, Conflict and Negotiation
  • Explain the concept and process of collective bargaining;
  • Explain the problems underlying union management conflict;
  • Initiate and execute the process of negotiation
  • Identify and use the skills a negotiator should possess in order to negotiate effectively; Prepare for negotiations;
  • Identify trade union and management negotiation tactics.
Industrial Action and Strike Handling
  • Define strikes and lockouts in terms of the Labour Relations Act;
  • Identify the various types of strikes;
  • Identify the main reasons for strikes in South Africa;
  • Explain the legality of strikes and lockouts in terms of the Constitution and Labour Relations Act;
  • Draw up contingency plans for strike action.
Employee Involvement and Participation
  • Identify and list the theoretical elements in respect of the concepts of democracy, industrial democracy, involvement, participation and representation;
  • Distinguish and apply the core elements of participation in practice;
  • Understand the objectives of employee involvement and participation;
  • Explain the varying degrees of power sharing in participation;
  • Identify the different forms and levels of involvement and participation;
  • Be able to explain and compare the techniques of employee involvement and participation.
Employee Involvement and Participation
  • Know the role and functions of workplace forums at enterprise level
  • Draft the constitution of a workplace forum
  • Evaluate the functioning of workplace forums
  • Know how to engage in consultation and joint decision making through workplace forums
Managing Human Resources: The Broader ER Management Agenda
  • Analyse and critically discuss some interconnections between human resource management (HRM) and labour relations dynamics;
  • Apply general HR practices in a business context with an emphasis on employment equity and discrimination implications;
  • Illustrate the application of fair HR practices to avoid unfair discrimination and related disputes;
  • Illustrate the broadening of the scope of employment relations, including that across stakeholders;
  • Identify international ethical issues that may impact on South African business in general and employment relations specifically.


Industrial Relations is a SLP that is certified by The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE). Varsity College is an educational brand of The IIE. Students enrolled for this SLP can apply, on successful completion, to be exempt, based on recognition of prior learning, from the equivalent full qualification module when registering for *The IIE Higher Certificate in Human Resource Practices which will be available in 2019.   

All SLPs available through Varsity College’s The Business School have been specifically designed for working adults. These SLPs differ from The IIE full qualifications available through Varsity College which are registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Before registration students must ensure that the programme selected best suits their individual learning and workplace objectives.   

*Important note: Entrance requirements apply. Please speak to a consultant for more details. Curriculum changes may occur.   


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