• 7 Community House, 41 Salt River Road, Salt River
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About Us

Over 30 years working for workers

The Labour Research Service (LRS) is a membership-based labour support organisation of good standing for over 30 years. We’ve worked with thousands of working people in the labour movement in Africa, helping them to develop strategy and to cultivate new layers of progressive leaders. The LRS has a long history of delivering support resources for strategy development, organising, collective bargaining and campaigns to the labour movement. 

We’ve helped unions strengthen collective bargaining, and worked with minimum wages in particular for many years. The LRS made significant contributions to the dialogue around the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for South Africa, providing input to the expert committee of the NMW.  We’ve been commissioned by several organisations, including the International Labour Organisation to provide research and insight on issues such as collective bargaining and gender inequality.

Our Gender Action Learning (GAL) processes with trade unions, community organisations and local NGOs have been very successful. We’ve supported multiple stakeholders to create cultures of greater equality, support work on women’s empowerment and foster conditions that enhance human dignity, inclusion and non-discrimination more broadly. 

Our ability to conduct research, our ongoing projects and engagements with the trade union movement in Africa and a rich network of contacts in the wider global labour movement makes us well-positioned to understand economy-wide and workplace specific dynamics and to contribute to important debates in a very constructive manner. 

The LRS is the first labour organisation in South Africa to develop and run online courses on collective bargaining for trade unions and workers. We are an affiliate member of the International Federation of Workers' Education Association (IFWEA). We've used IFWEA's Online Labour Academy as a platform, and we will continue to partner with IFWEA in workers' education initiatives, both nationally and internationally.


Read the LRS timeline


To develop in a participative and accessible way, an objective and independent research and resource base that influences the discourse on alternative strategies necessary to strengthen labour and civil society representation and influence, on issues of human rights, democracy, equality and socio-economic justice.



A movement of working people in diverse forms of organisations that forms an integral part of a vibrant civil society promoting egalitarianism through the provision of coherent alternatives for greater economic, social and political justice. 


Egalitarianism, promotion of human rights, promotion of gender equality, and transparency and accountability


Core business

  • Leadership development and the development of gender equality in trade unions and in all forms of organisations supporting working people and people seeking employment.
  • Raising awareness and advocating for labour rights in all forms of workplaces.
  • Supporting the renewal of strategies for trade union and workplace organising, bargaining and resource development with a special focus on the living wage, issues impacting on women’s participation in the workplace, the wage gap, vulnerable work and information management.
  • Supporting the renewal of approaches to workers education initiatives
  • Supporting multinational union alliances to confront multinational companies.
  • Reshaping corporate governance.


Core programmes

  1. Gender Equality
  2. Social Dialogue
  3. Transforming Corporate Governance

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


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 emphasize commonality.

LRS member unions include;


  1. Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) – 80,681 members
  2. Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) – 80,000 members
  3. Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) – 127,000 members
  4. Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) – 66,721 members
  5. Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) – 72,246 members
  6. Metal Electrical Workers Union of South Africa (MEWUSA) – 17,180 members
  7. National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) – 276,486 members
  8. National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – 270,649 members
  9. National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) – 320,000
  10. South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) – 150,000 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) – 170,000 members
  15. Transport Omnibus Workers Union (TOWU) - 3,000 members



The LRS actively cultivates new relationships with partners working in our thematic areas. We've built strong links in various networks including, International Solidarity Support Organisations, Community-Based Organisations, Non-governmental Organisations, Government Departments, Global Union Federations, academic institutions and International Labour Organisation.

LRS board of directors

Our board is elected at an annual general meeting where our member trade unions participate.  All of the board members are trade union members or officials and have skills ranging from financial management, research and strategic planning.

Current LRS directors

Board Chair - Siyana, N (NUMSA) 

Board Members - Tebekweana, Z. (SACCAWU); D. L. Roman (DENOSA); Ngcobo, B. (NUM); Elsley T. H. (LRS); Kweleta, E. (NEHAWU); Lemekaya, D. M (SATAWU) 


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