This paper analyses the influence of the South African labour market on the conduct of monetary policy. Because of the weak response of wages to changes in employment, the South African Reserve Bank is confronted by an unfavourable short run unemployment-inflation trade off that complicates the implementation of the inflation targeting framework. First we provide some reduced form evidence by estimating a form of the traditional wage Phillips curve, showing the weak relationship between wage dynamics and unemployment in South Africa. We then confirm this result by presenting an estimation of a structural model of the South African economy and give a quantitative assessment of the constraint imposed by the labour market on monetary policy. Finally we interpret these results in a strategic framework, analysing the role that inflation targeting might play in either improving coordination, or worsening the interaction between trade unions and Central Bank objectives.