An array of top speakers will address delegates at the 21st World Congress of the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law (ISLSSL) in Cape Town from 15 to 18 September 2015.

The congress, hosted by the South African Society for Labour Law (SASLAW), has four themes that are in line with the pillars of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Decent Work Agenda, which ultimately depend on the prospects for the global economy.

The main keynote speakers are Professor Alain Supiot, Doctor in Law at the Collège de France in Paris and Professor Sir Bob Hepple, Emeritus Master of Clare College at the University of Cambridge.

"In a country where unemployment remains unacceptably high - around 25,4 percent - the poverty gap is widening and labour unrest is commonplace, a discussion on labour and social security law has become a necessity,” says Gillian Lumb, Director and Cape Regional Practice Head of the Employment practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and member of the SASLAW congress organising committee.

“This past year in South Africa has seen the introduction of several new labour laws, most recently the Labour Relations Amendment Act, all of which have signalled a move by the South African government to streamline the country’s labour environment.  The legislation has required that South African businesses adjust the way they have traditionally employed and managed staff in their organisations.  It aims to protect the most vulnerable members of the workforce, while at the same time providing guidelines on important labour issues for businesses, such as the legalities of strike action, basic conditions of employment and equality in the workplace.

“A platform to debate the on-going labour challenges, as well as what could be done to help businesses stimulate employment and foster a productive workforce, is to be welcomed, both in South Africa as host to this congress, and around the world,” she says.

The first theme, ‘Collective bargaining – and beyond?’, will be addressed by Professor Graciela Bensusan, Research professor at the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City and discussed by Dr Pamhidzai Bamu,Research fellow at the Centre for Applied Legal Research at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Professor Mukul Asher of the Lee Kuan School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore will address the second theme – ‘Social security: which way forward?’  The discussant will be Professor Letlhokwa George Mpedi, Director of the Centre for International and Comparative Labour and Social Security Law and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. 

The third theme, ‘Equality and citizenship at work as conceptual foundations for labour law’, will be addressed by Professor Judy Fudge of the Kent Law School at the University of Kent and discussed by Professor Adelle Blackett, William Dawson Scholar at the Faculty of Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. 

Professor Simon Deakin, Director in the Centre for Business Research and Professor of Law at the University of Cambridge will discuss the fourth theme – ‘Labour law and development.’  The discussant will be Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, member of the Johannesburg Bar and former Director of the Constitutional Litigation Unit at the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa. 

A plenary session will be dedicated to each theme, followed by breakaway sessions in the form of workshops for presentation of papers per focus area.

In a special session on Wednesday, 16 September, a panel of experts consisting of international scholars and practitioners, chaired by Professor Manfred Weiss,Emeritus professor at the Faculty of Law at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt will discuss ‘How to cope with fragmentation and segmentation of the workforce.’ 

A round-table forum on Friday, 18 September will be of particular interest to a South African audience, as Judge Dennis Davis, Judge of the Labour Appeal Court and President of the Competition Appeal Court will present a case study of South Africa’s Labour Relations Act (LRA) 20 years into democracy, with a particular focus on whether ILO principles have contributed to workable labour relations.  Forum members will include ILO experts who assisted in drafting South Africa's 1995 LRA together with leading representatives of South Africa's social partners.

Integrated with the congress is the 18th annual conference of SASLAW, where delegates will attend themes three and four, although they may register for the entire international event to interact with international labour scholars and practitioners.

Abstract submissions close on 15 March and the deadline for the submission of papers is 15 July.

The congress will be presented in English, French and Spanish and confirmed sponsors are Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, DLA Piper and Juta Law.  The project partners are SASLAW, the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law and The Conference Company.