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
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
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
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