The Right to Freedom of Association and the Protection of Employees against Victimisation in the Workplace




freedom of association, trade union, victimisation, trade union security arrangements, prejudice, international labour standards, detriment, trade union lawful activities


This article deals with employees' right to freedom of association and their protection against victimisation when exercising this right in the workplace. First it explains the concepts of "freedom of association" and "victimisation". It then considers the protection of employees against victimisation for exercising the right to freedom of association internationally and domestically, however, only in the employment context. It considers the protection of the right to freedom of association in South Africa in terms of the Constitution and its regulation under various sections of the LRA. It also looks at limitations on the right to freedom of association and the remedies available to employees who experience victimisation because of exercising this right. It further considers the regulation of the right to freedom of association in the UK. It argues that although this right is well protected internationally and domestically, employees still experience victimisation as a result of exercising it. It further argues that the protection of this right and its exercise by employees is necessary to bring a balance to an uneven relationship between employers and employees in the workplace. It concludes that trade unions together with employers have a responsibility to ensure that employees exercise their constitutional right to freedom of association with no fear of victimisation.


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Author Biography

Ernest Manamela, University of South Africa

Associate Professor at the School of Law, Unisa, South Africa. 




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South Africa

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

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United Kingdom

Employment Act 38 of 1990

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Government publications

South Africa

GN R1396 in GG 42121 of 19 December 2018 (Code of Good Practice: Collective Bargaining, Industrial Action and Picketing)

United Kingdom

Employment Relations Act 493 of 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010

International instruments

Charter of Fundamental Social Rights (2003)

European Convention on Human Rights (1950)

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ILO Constitution (1919)

ILO Declaration of Philadelphia (1944)

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International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

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How to Cite

Manamela, E. (2023). The Right to Freedom of Association and the Protection of Employees against Victimisation in the Workplace. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 26, (Published on 11 December 2023) pp 1 – 34.




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