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Labour and Enterprise Policy Research Group (LEP)

About LEP

The Labour and Enterprise Policy Research Group (LEP) is an independently funded research group that undertakes research, from a socio-legal perspective, into a range of policy questions regarding labour relations and (more broadly) work, as well as regarding how enterprises operate.

LEP comprises three staff members (a coordinator and three researchers) as well as members of the academic staff of the University attached to the Institute of Development and Labour Law and Faculty of Law and the Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town.

In the more two decades that LEP has been in existence (although not under its present name) it has developed its own distinctive conception as to how, as a result of a process of industrial restructuring, existing policies need to be adapted, and new terminologies developed. The booklet Keywords for a 21st Century Workplace is intended to capture this conception.

Amongst the specific questions that LEP's research has addressed are the following:

  • Collective bargaining and the operation of the bargaining council system;
  • Labour relations in small businesses;
  • The impact of specific provisions of labour legislation on the labour market, including the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the dispute resolution system (the Commission for Conciliation. Mediation and Arbitration);
  • The increasing prevalence of non-standard forms of employment, including part-time employment, temporary employment and employment via intermediaries such as labour brokers (temporary employment agencies), as well as the appropriate legislative and policy responses;
  • Employment in the informal economy, including home work, and how it may become sustainable;
  • Cooperatives as a form of enterprise;
  • Participatory structures within firms and their impact on forms' performance;
  • Attempts to "benchmark" labour regulation, and attempts to measure the impact of law economically.

Currently LEP is engaged in two major projects that concern other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as South Africa. The first is funded by LEP's long term partner, FNV Mondiaal. It is an examination as to how the International Labour Organization's concept of decent work may be utilised to protect vulnerable workers in three economic sectors.

The second, entitled Capturing the Gains, is a study of global value chains. It seeks to determine whether, in four economic sectors, global value chains have resulted in social upgrading or downgrading, in a number of countries of the global South. This study is being coordinated by the University of Manchester and Duke University.

LEP staff members

Jan Theron (BA. LL.B, Advanced Diploma in Labour Law (UCT))

Shane Godfrey (BProc (UNISA), BA(Hons) MA (UCT), PhD (UCT))

Margareet Visser (BA, B Hons Journalism (Stellenbosch), MPhil (UCT))

LEP Opinion Pieces

  1. "The plan about jobs" (7 July 2012)
  2. "Small businesses create jobs, and other myths" (16 July 2012)
  3. "What is decent about decent work?" (23 July 2012)
  4. "No taxation without representation: Creating forums where all workers have a voice" (30 July 2012)
  5. "Investing in a youth wage subsidy or the social economy" (6 August 2012)
  6. "The crisis in clothing: winners and losers" (13 August 2012)