The role of trade unions in job creation: a case study of the Job Creation Trust

Mwilima, Ntwala
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Abstract This study aimed to investigate the role of trade unions in job creation, using JCT as a case study. Specifically, the study investigated to what extent JCT had achieved its goal of job creation. Further, the study explored the type and sustainability of the jobs created and the implications that the findings have pertaining to the role of trade unions in job creation. An examination of literature revealed that there are three main ways in which trade unions can participate in job creation. Firstly, trade unions can get involved in job creation by influencing macro-economic and social policies at multipartite structures. Secondly, trade unions can intervene in job creation by facilitating skills development. Finally, trade unions can create jobs directly as illustrated by the MineWorkers Development Agency and the Job Creation Trust. Further, literature shows that the active involvement of trade unions in job creation is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, from as early as the early 1900s, trade unions expanded their role of collective bargaining to include controlling the supply of labour and facilitating skills development. The main focus of the study is on the role of trade unions in direct job creation. After a thorough investigation on the experience of trade unions in direct job creation (using JCT as a case study), the study concludes that trade unions have a role to play in job creation. The study argues that trade unions should focus on influencing macro-economic policies and facilitating skills development as compared to being involved in direct job creation. This is based on many challenges that not only undermine trade union’s ability to create jobs, but also on the challenges that face the model of projects funded by the JCT. Accordingly, the study makes the following recommendations that specifically try to address the challenges identified. Firstly, JCT can continue funding rural micro and small enterprises. Such a route requires close monitoring of the projects to mitigate the challenges that such projects fail and, ultimately lead to failure of project. Secondly, JCT can adopt the role of a labour market intermediary in which it would be involved in recruiting among the unemployed, facilitating training and placement. Finally, JCT can adopt the Basic Income Grant (BIG) and work with other stakeholders such as governments, faith based organisations and NGOs. The study recognised that these recommendations will yield maximum outcomes if they are implemented in tandem to each other.