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Cosatu vows to hold out

Apr 29 2012 19:30 Dewald van Rensburg

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Johannesburg - Cosatu says it will fight the proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act with all its might.

The amendments involve numerous attacks on fundamental labour rights which are being justified as measures to combat violence during strikes, says the trade union in a statement issued on Thursday following a special meeting of its executive committee.

By far most of the strikes are not violent, says Cosatu. It says unions cannot be held legally and financially responsible for the illegal activities of individuals in the environment of union activity.

This would bankrupt unions and prevent them from protecting their members, Cosatu says.

Despite the deadlock in Nedlac over key issues, including labour broking, the bill was approved by Cabinet this year and has been presented to Parliament.

According to Cosatu, the amendments will mean that all workers in the public sector will be regarded as suppliers of essential services, which will deprive them of the right to strike.

The Department of Labour has on several occasions tried to appease the union by saying that this classification will automatically apply only to customs and immigration officers, as well as workers in the court system as well as the application of the law.

Cosatu also has serious concerns about other new measures regulating strikes. The reintroduction of a compulsory secret ballot before a strike can be called is especially in its sights.

Cosatu says this could be easily manipulated by employers to delay strikes and demoralise workers.

The unions' democratic mandate cannot be controlled by the state.

According to the proposals the Labour Court will also more explicitly have the power to suspend strikes if picket lines are violated and employers will be able to claim compensation if they suffer damage as a result of such violations, says Cosatu.

This could spell the end of smaller unions should their assets be plundered by cynical employers, says Cosatu.

In addition, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will receive the right to intervene in protracted strikes in the "public interest", and oblige the parties to accept mediation under its auspices.

The CCMA cannot be permitted to decide when it's in the public interest to intervene. This is an attack through the back door, says Cosatu.

 - Sake24

For more business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.

 
cosatu  |  nedlac  |  labour relations act  |  labour laws  |  ccma
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