The attitude of union members on the role and influence of trade unions within the banking industry in South Africa.
Historically, new employees in an industry associated themselves with a union soon after being appointed as an employee. However, within the banking industry in South Africa this anticipated membership to a union has become less predictable as a growing number of employees question the benefits of becoming a union member as benefits negotiated by the unions are available to both members and non-union members. This in turn raises the question amongst all employees regarding the role and influence of the unions within the banking industry. The aim of this study was to establish the attitude of union members towards the role and influence of trade unions within the South African banking industry. A probability sample was drawn from a major South African bank whose population comprised 33 727 employees that were eligible to belong to a union. The sample consisted of 394 employees from the KwaZulu-Natal region. KwaZulu-Natal was utilised as it best represented the demographics of South Africa with both metropolitan and rural branches. The respondents consisted of 39,6% males and 60,4% females of which 56,6% were union members and 43,4% were non-union members. The data collection was conducted through an internet-based questionnaire that the researcher had structured expressly for this study. Analysis of the collected data indicated that there were specific reasons for employees becoming union members and that in instances the unions were not meeting this expectation through their offered benefits. In terms of the value of union benefits, 48,2% of respondents indicated that these benefits were of average value, 34,7 % indicated minimal or no value and 16,1% indicated excellent or good value. Recommendations were made by the researcher as to how the perceived value of union benefits could be improved. This included regular meetings between union representatives and members and the union offering training courses as identified by the members. These suggestions are supported through the research of Peetz and Todd (2001). In addition, statistical analysis revealed that there were noteworthy relationships between the age of the union member and a number of variables that would require additional research. The study can benefit both unions and employers through an improved understanding of the attitude of employees towards the role and influence of the unions. This can be achieved through the unions’ offerings to members and will assist employers during negotiations with unions for Recognition Agreements. In addition, the study can assist employees through an improved understanding of the value unions offer to members. However, whilst this study cannot finalise the debate on union negotiated benefits being available to non-union members, it does provide clarity that members are discontent that this occurs.