Work­ers’ rights are hu­man rights

Vuk'uzenzele - - Front Page -

The Month of May is Work­ers Month, a time for all work­ers to learn more about their rights – rights that South Africa’s gov­ern­ment pro­tects with some of the best labour laws in the world.

May is Work­ers’ Month in South Africa, a time to cel­e­brate the peo­ple who build our coun­try. South Africa’s labour laws “tick all the right boxes” when com­pared to the United Na­tions Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights, South Africa’s 1955 Free­dom Char­ter, and our Bill of Rights, says Min­is­ter of Labour Mil­dred Oliphant.

“We have cho­sen the 2017 Work­ers Month to take stock and cel­e­brate how far we have come in our quest for so­cial jus­tice through labour re­la­tions dis­pen­sa­tion,” the Min­is­ter said re­cently. Gov­ern­ment has made even more im­prove­ments to our labour laws over re­cent years. These in­clude pro­tec­tion from abuses by labour bro­kers, bet­ter ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits for work­ing women, trade union rights and more.

Trade unions

Trade unions and the right to or­gan­ise are pro­tected by the Labour Re­la­tions Act (LRA). Be­fore, unions needed 50 per cent rep­re­sen­ta­tion plus one in a com­pany to be recog­nised as the ma­jor­ity union. To­day, Com­mis­sion­ers can award ma­jor­ity rights to unions that rep­re­sent the most work­ers, as long as there is no union with ma­jor­ity rights al­ready.

Em­ploy­ees on short-term con­tracts have also been granted the right to union pro­tec­tion. They also en­joy the right to picket at both their em­ployer’s and the labour bro­ker ’s premises. Tem­po­rary Em­ploy­ment Ser­vices are reg­u­lated by the LRA to pre­vent abuse of work­ers on short-term con­tracts. Any em­ployee con­tracted for longer than three months will be deemed to be em­ployed in­def­i­nitely un­less

there are jus­ti­fi­able rea­sons oth­er­wise.

Labour bro­kers

Be­fore, some em­ploy­ers used labour bro­kers to keep down costs and avoid com­ply­ing with labour leg­is­la­tion. Changes to our labour laws mean that now, work­ers sourced by labour bro­kers are con­sid­ered to be em­ployed by the com­pany

they work for, ir­re­spec­tive of the con­tract with a labour bro­ker.

Em­ploy­ers also are now re­quired to jus­tify why a per­ma­nent ap­point­ment can­not be made at the end of a fixed-term con­tract. Lack of an of­fer – no mat­ter the length of the con­tract – can be in­ter­preted as un­fair dis­missal.

Dis­missals are also deemed un­fair if they come as a re­sult of an em­ployee re­fus­ing to ac­cept

a de­mand in a mat­ter con­sid­ered of mu­tual in­ter­est. These – pay cuts or longer hours – are in the am­bit of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing.

Un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance fund

Ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits from the Un­em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance Fund (UIF) are now paid at a fixed rate of 66 per cent of earn­ings in­stead of the pre­vi­ous slid­ing scale of 38 per cent to 66 per

cent. Also, a worker who mis­car­ries in the third trimester of her preg­nancy is en­ti­tled to full ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits.

Do­mes­tic work­ers are also en­ti­tled to claim from the UIF, as long as they have been reg­is­tered by their em­ployer and they are pay­ing monthly con­tri­bu­tions.

“South Africa was among the first four coun­tries to rat­ify the ILO Con­ven­tion con­cern­ing de­cent work for do­mes­tic work­ers,” Min­is­ter Oliphant said.

“We urge trade unions and in­di­vid­ual work­ers to as­sist in rais­ing the aware­ness of the rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of work­ers in our labour laws.”

(Photo: BSA)

In South Africa's labour law, work­ers do­ing work of equal value must get equal pay.

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