About Us

A labour movement that is part of a vibrant civil society that promotes egalitarianism.

To conduct research, provide information and facilitate participatory education for trade union development.

Organisational objectives

The Labour Research Service (LRS) is a membership-based labour support organisation established in 1986. We support the core functions of trade unions such as collective bargaining and organising and help to link unions with other role-players and constituencies. Our work influences policies that will enable workers to fully claim their rights. We support global union federations in building trade unions and trade union networks around multinational companies in Africa. We support the trade union movement in Africa as it seeks to adopt strategies that promote developmental outcomes of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. We influence approaches to gender equality and gender-based violence in unions and within communities in South Africa and Africa. We work to develop new layers of worker leaders within trade unions and in so doing support the reproduction of these important organs of civil society.

Core business

  • Supporting the renewal of strategies for trade union and workplace organising, bargaining and resource development with a special focus on the living wage, the wage gap, precarious work, international trade, climate change, information management, and issues that impact the participation of women in the workplace.
  • Leadership development and building cultures of gender equality in trade unions, the workplace and in the community.
  • Supporting multinational union alliances to confront multinational companies and reshaping corporate governance.
  • Supporting the renewal of approaches to workers’ education initiatives.
  • Building national, regional and international networks and alliances for the working class.
  • Cultivating a community of worker activism, locally and globally.

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 and women in the service sectors of hospitality; call centres; retail and the health and social services
  • 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

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.

LRS member unions

  1. Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) – 67,960 members
  2. Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) – 84,000 members
  3. Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) – 127,000 members
  4. Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) – 72 091 members
  5. Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) – 72,246 members
  6. Metal Electrical Workers Union of South Africa (MEWUSA) – 17,000 members
  7. National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) – 276,159 members
  8. National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – 270,649 members
  9. National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) – 347,948
  10. South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) – 177,000 members
  11. South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU) – 7,200 members
  12. South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) – 253 039 members
  13. South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) – 161,490 members
  14. South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) – 101,458 members
  15. Transport Omnibus Workers Union (TOWU) – 1,600 members

Cooperation and partnerships

We’ve 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 relationships with partners working in our thematic areas. We engage with a network of individuals who are able to contribute to LRS programme delivery and bolster our capacity.

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); Clement Marule (NEHAWU); 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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