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Parliament is considering making the biggest changes to Mzansi’s labour laws since 1995 - and these changes are a significant setback for the working class and its ability to represent its interests. The three bills under consideration include amendments to the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, as well as the new National Minimum Wage Bill.

The National Minimum Wage was supposed to be a win for workers, but at R20 per hour, the national minimum wage fails to confront economic inequality, and it doesn’t apply to workers who need it most, like domestic workers who will earn R15 per hour [1]. The current amendment would exclude  farm workers, domestic workers and workers in the Extended Public Works Programme from the national minimum wage. In its current form it would also exclude millions of contract and temporary workers. The Department of Labour claims this change in wording was an error, but with so much at stake we need to watch carefully [2].

Politicians have been talking about how they are promoting workers rights, yet quietly over December these amendments have been proposed which undermine workers’ right to strike, remove workers’ protections in the sectoral determinations, make casual workers even more vulnerable and put even more power in the hands of employers to set wages. There has been hardly any media coverage of this issue, that’s why it’s critical we sound the alarm.

The reality is that the majority of workers are not unionised, and casual workers in particular have not had an opportunity to feedback on these amendments even though they affect them the most. The Department of Labour did not do proper consultation and most of the public briefings happened before the draft amendments were released on the 17th November 2017.

Workers are the backbone of Mzansi’s economy. And we know the many hardships they are confronted with under very trying conditions throughout the country. Their hard-fought rights are one of the key features that distinguishes our democracy, and we cannot allow these gains to be lost.

Dear Minister of Labour, Mildred Nelisiwe Oliphant and Fezeka Loliwe, Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on labour 

We, the undersigned, call on you to institute a proper public consultation process, which will include non-unionised/ casual workers. We further call on you to ensure that this consultation process takes place beyond the major cities of provinces.

Despite your department insisting that it was not its intention to deviate from the Nedlac agreement and cited printing errors, other deviations from the Nedlac national minimum wage agreement seem to remain unresolved, in addition to the anti-worker amendments to the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act. It is unlikely that all of these changes can be attributed to bureaucratic errors.

We call on you to not implement these regressive changes to South Africa’s labour laws by 28 February 2018.

This campaign is in collaboration with the Casual Workers Advice Office

References
[1] What will Ramaphosa do for the workers? Adam Aboobaker and Josh Budlender for Business Day. Feb 6, 2018.
[2] Why changes to South Africa’s labour laws are an assault on workers’ rights, The Conversation. Dec 12, 2017.
[3] Publication of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill 2018, NO. R. 1273. Department of Labour, 17th November 2017.

Will you sign?


Workers are the backbone of Mzansi’s economy. And we know the many hardships they are confronted with under very trying conditions throughout the country. Their hard-fought rights are one of the key features that distinguishes our democracy, and we cannot allow these gains to be lost.