An Assessment of Trade Unions in the South African Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry

Olusegun Aanuoluwapo Oguntona, Clinton Aigbavboa, Mogale Mpotwane

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry is known to be one of the largest employers of labour globally. The diverse and multi-faceted characteristics of the industry ensure it caters for the employment of both skilled and unskilled workers. However, the unfavourable working environment and conditions, exploitation of labour, and poor welfare of the workers are a few of the ills associated with the AEC industry. Hence, the establishment and proliferation of trade unions for mitigating the numerous challenges facing construction workers. This paper aims to assess the state of trade unions in the AEC sector using South Africa as a case study. A questionnaire survey was used to obtain the required data for this research study. The respondents were quantity surveyors, site engineers, foremen, safety officers, and quality control officers who are actively affiliated with a trade union in South Africa. A quantitative approach to data analysis was employed. The results revealed the major factors responsible for the establishment of trade unions in the South African AEC industry. Poor impact on project performance, intimidation of striking workers, disturbance of project process, organizational conflict and drag in negotiations are identified in the study as the major adverse impacts of trade unions in the AEC industry. The results revealed securing better wages, improved fringe benefits, improved workplace safety measures, prompt management responsiveness to employees, and improved health and safety of employees are the major benefits of trade unions in the AEC industry. It is believed that the presence of a versatile and effective trade union will optimize productivity and create a safe workplace culture in the built environment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Conference on Construction in the 21st Century
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event12th International Conference on Construction in the 21st Century, CITC 2022 - Amman, Jordan
Duration: 16 May 202219 May 2022


  • Built Environment
  • Construction Industry
  • Construction Workers
  • Health and Safety
  • Labour Unions
  • South Africa
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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