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Media Centre | COSATU Press Statements
PASSING OF THE BASIC CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT ACT BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
07 November 1997
Today's passing of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act by the National Assembly is a milestone in the attempt to combat the conditions of abuse and insecurity which workers face as a result of decades of apartheid, colonialism and capitalism.
Today will go down in the history of the country, and the calendar of workers, as one of the days that represents a shift away from exploitative working conditions to fair labour standards, in line with our constitution and the RDP. This is a result primarily of the struggles of workers and the programme of the Alliance to transform the apartheid labour market.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act is a step towards ensuring that workers are given relief from the relentless onslaught of unscrupulous employers on the working conditions of vulnerable workers like domestic and farm workers. Some of the important victories for workers include the following:
1. Extension of the provisions of the Act to vulnerable workers - domestic, farm and casual workers.
2. Regulation of working hours
3 Protection against dismissal of pregnant women workers and maternity leave provisions.
4. Overtime provisions
5. Written particulars of employment
6. Family responsibility leave,etc.
These and many other provisions of the Act will change the power relations between vulnerable workers and employers who think that we still live in a period of slavery. The challenge facing the government is how the provisions of the Act will be monitored and enforced. It is naive to think that many employers, such as farmers will comply without being forced to do so. The inspectorate should be resourced in a manner that will not allow farmers, small business bosses, unorganised establishments and employers of domestic workers to continue with their exploitative conduct as if nothing has happened.
While COSATU is happy at the passing of the Act, we want to record that there are other matters we are very unhappy about. Firstly, some matters resolved by the Alliance partners have not been properly captured to reflect the Alliance Agreement in the Act. These matters include the variation model.
Secondly, COSATU had made a list of proposed amendments to the Standing Committee. Few of those proposals have been taken on board. Other matters which remains outstanding include the eighteen months blanket exclusion of public workers from the act.
COSATU will ensure that amendments are introduced to correct these problems. We are currently in discussion with the ANC to ensure that this is achieved. On November 18th the Central Executive Committee of COSATU will make an overall assessment, and decide on a way forward.
We remain of the view that those outstanding issues can be resolved by the Alliance in the same way that we resolve an earlier impasse.
Nowetu Mpati COSATU Head of Communications
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