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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor


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Media Centre  |  Articles

COSATU`s response to the Labour Relations Amendment Bill

1. Introduction

The Congress of South African Trade Unions noted the proposed Labour Relations Amendment (LRA) Bill drafted by Mr. Ian Ollis, Member of Parliament (Democratic Alliance). COSATU rejects the proposed LRA Amendment Bill drafted by Mr. Ollis, in its entirety. COSATU`s rejection of the Bill is based upon its being in direct contradiction with workers` hard won right to strike as enshrined in the Constitution and the Labour Relations Act (LRA). It undermines South Africa`s obligations under the ILO of which it is a member and a signatory to its conventions. It is in conflict with the Regulation of Gatherings Act. It is also in contravention of the National Economic Development and Labour Council Act.

The strike statistics cited in the Bill`s explanatory memorandum are inaccurate and fatally flawed. The Bill`s memorandum completely ignores the root causes to why workers embark upon strikes and why South Africa as a whole experiences many instances of violence. Furthermore, the DA`s Member of Parliament only published the Bill in the Government Gazette, a publication to which most workers do not have access. This makes it hard for ordinary workers to engage with this Bill and to present their opinions. It represents a prejudice against workers (in addition to the prejudice displayed in targeting workers through this Bill).

2. Constitutional Provisions

South African workers` right to strike was a hard earned right fought for over centuries since the first days of colonialism. This was not a right that was handed over to workers for free. Thousands of workers were murdered, injured and fired fighting for this internationally recognised human and workers` right. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights state that: "Every worker has the right:

  • To form and join a trade union;
  • To participate in the activities and programmes of a trade union; and
  • To strike." They further recognise the rights of trade unions:
  • "To determine its own administration, programmes and activities;
  • To organise;"

The Constitution stipulates that: The rights in the Bill of Rights may be limited only in terms of law of general application to the extent that the limitation if reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society is based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors, including:

  • The nature of the right
  • The importance of the purpose of the limitation;
  • The nature and the extent of the limitation;
  • The relation between the limitation and its purpose; and
  • Less restrictive means to achieve the purpose."

Read more on page 50 http://www.cosatu.org.za/docs/shopsteward/2015/mayday.pdf