About Us

The labour movement is an integral part of a vibrant civil society, which promotes egalitarianism through the provision of coherent alternatives for greater economic, social and political justice.

To develop in a participative and accessible way, an objective and independent research and resource base that will shape the discourse on the alternative strategies necessary to strengthen labour and civil society representation and influence on issues of production and distribution in the economy.

The Labour Research Service (LRS) is a membership-based labour support organisation founded in 1986.

We inspire workers to believe in and exercise their individual and collective power in the struggle for social and economic justice.

We support working class leaders who want to renew their approach and strategies for representing workers in a changing world of work.

The Labour Research Service stands for the development of its member unions and the trade union movement in South Africa and in Africa.

Strategic outcomes

Skilled people that find fulfilment in their work

A greater purpose and personal development, along with the competencies we need inside the organisation.


There are cultures of gender equality in the LRS and in the trade union movement

Networking and alliance building

Working relationships with other labour support organisations and non-governmental organisations for education, research, lobbying, advocacy, alliance building, organisational forms, resource development, methodologies and  technologies.

Supportive infrastructure

The goods and services that we need to work effectively.

Good governance

An organisation that is focused, transparent, accountable and effective.

Trade union development

Leadership development programmes and resources that are geared towards organising and negotiating collective interests.

Technology for trade unions

The trade union movement uses technology to amplify its ability to represent working class interests (understood to be distinct from responding to technological change in the workplace).

Positive influence out in in the world

The organisation is always developing theory, pedagogy, methodology, networks and alliances for real influence.

Programme development

We are building sustainability through programme development – specifically building intellectual capital in future-facing themes (such as the future of work, climate and transition, informalisation and trade and investment).

Our constituency

  • Organised and unorganised workers in both formal and informal employment 
  • Workers and worker organisations in more marginalised sectors, for example, domestic workers; employees of labour brokers; farmworkers; women in services sectors 
  • Public sector workers

Our partners

Olof Palme International Centre
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | Trade Union Competency Centre
The National Skills Fund
Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland (SASK)
The Other Foundation
Solidarity Centre
International Labour Organisation
Joint Gender Fund
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Leadership and governance

The LRS is union-controlled, with 15 member trade unions representing over two million workers in South Africa. We work across federation lines, creating and supporting spaces that are inclusive and which emphasise commonality.

Cooperation and partnerships

We have built strong links in various networks, including government departments and commissions, International Solidarity Support Organisations, Community-Based Organisations, Non-governmental Organisations, Global Union Federations, academic institutions and the International Labour Organisation.

We continue to cultivate new partnerships in our thematic areas.

We engage Associates, professionals that share our mission of supporting worker leaders to represent the interest of workers as best as they can. 

LRS Board Members

Our board is elected at an annual general meeting. Our board members are a mix of trade union worker leaders and officials. There are currently six elected directors of the LRS and the executive director is an ex-officio director. The board of directors who serve without pay provide a critical oversight role and provide the LRS with a grounding in the trade union movement.

Current Board members

Funeka Klaas (SACCAWU); Trenton Elsley (LRS); Lawrence Ntuli (SAMWU); Mike Fafuli (NUM); Given Roji (NUMSA); Cindy De Lange (SADTU).

Registration number: 1986/002993/08 | VAT registration number: 4810105587 | Tax registration number: 945/0255/03/0 | NPO registration number: 050-326-NPO

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