2 – Repeated violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

South Africa

The ITUC affiliates in South Africa are the Confederation of South African Workers’ Unions (CONSAWU), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU).

In practice

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Shop stewards dismissed by health service laboratory01-08-2015

The National Health Laboratory Services’ (NHLS) management sent termination letters to 20 shop stewards from the Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) union in August 2015 following the collapse of wage negotiations.
The union had been in dispute with management over pay, with difficult negotiations dragging on since April. NEHAWU reported that management had approached workers directly, trying to get them to agree to its pay offer by signing acceptance letters, side-stepping the negotiating process. Management also issued a communiqué encouraging workers to resign from NEHAWU.
On 12 August NEHAW served management with a seven-day strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
notice. Finally management returned to the negotiating table and agreement was reached on 19 August on a seven percent wage increases and a two year period for the implementation of new pay scales.

Telkom bypasses unions and ignores collective agreement 01-07-2015

At the beginning of July 2015 Telkom sent retrenchment notices to 4,400 staff directly, bypassing the workers’ unions in contravention of a 2008 collective agreement. According to that agreement, the company should talk to the unions and agree on the terms before beginning restructuring.
The retrenchments were part of a turnaround plan Telkom had launched two years earlier resulting in thousands of job cuts. Telkom had plans to shed 7,800 more jobs to bring down staff costs to 25% of sales. The 4,400 job cuts were to be achieved through voluntary severance, early retirement and potential retrenchments.
Three unions, Solidarity, the Communication Workers Union and South African Communication Union applied to the Labour Court to prevent the retrenchments on the grounds that the employer had failed to consult them, and grant an order enforcing the terms of the agreement. The Labour Court suspended the retrenchment order and the company decided to offer severance packages to non-unionised staff only, about 40% of the workforce. Two weeks later however, on 23 July, after failing to reach agreement with the unions, the company decided to extended the offer of a redundancy package to all staff, unionised or not.

Trucking company fires six for joining union16-07-2015

Six employees of the GSP Trucking company in Stikland received dismissal notices on 16 July, claiming the company was in financial difficulties and due to close on 31 July. The company was still operating in August however, and was taking orders from potential customers for several months ahead. The six who were dismissed say the company had exploited and ill-treated them. They had decided to join the Motor Transport Workers’ Union of South Africa (MTWU) union. Shortly afterwards, they were dismissed.

Farm workers continue to demand right to strike30-06-2014

In June 2014, two former employees took La Maison fruit farm to court to fight for their right to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, after being dismissed more than a year before. Three workers, Christian Philander (44), Adam Louw (23) and Jakobus Burger (36) were dismissed on 25 February 2013 for going on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
was unprotected, hence the dismissal, but it was part of a wider movement of strikes in support of a pay claim that was later upheld in principle by the government. The workers were seeking a rise from R69 a day to R150 a day, and the government declared after that strikes that farm workers should be paid R105 a day. The lawyer representing the two workers, Christian Philander and Adam Louw, and the Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) explained that the aim was to defend the right to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. CSAAWU’s general secretary Karel Swart pointed out that under the conditions at the time there was little hope for securing industry wide strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
protection. Unionisation among farm workers nationally was at around three per cent, and the labour force was sparsely strewn across a large area. In these circumstances, reaching consensus and the resolve needed to apply for strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
protection from the CCMA was impossibly difficult. Sadly CSAAWU lost the case.

Union steward killed 28-02-2014

In February 2014, a union steward was killed in a clash with police at an Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mine where workers were holding a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to press for higher wages. A member of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) was killed during a violent clash with police, which tried to clear a barricaded road that leads to the mine in the northern Limpopo province.

Community health workers arrested31-07-2014

In July 2014, about 100 community health workers were arrested and charged for staging a sit-in at the health department in Bloemfontein. The workers aimed to speak up against the failings in the health care system in the Free State. Previously, they had demanded to see public authorities to discuss redundancies and a net salary increase from R 1400 to R 3500. Community health workers are trained in basic health care, provide home-based care, counselling to patients, and help them take their medication.

Police violence01-01-2013

On 16 August 2012, the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of striking mineworkers in Nkaneng, killing 34 and wounding 78. The workers had been carrying knobkerries, pangas, sticks, and iron rods. The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
which began on 10 August was in relation to pay increases.

More than 800 farm workers took part in the protest in Nkqubela, Robertson in January 2013. However, shortly into the protest police officers arrived on the road with guns and opened fire on the protesters forcing them back into their communities where police continued to fire at the people. Several people were wounded in this latest incident of police brutality and the Human Rights Commission has been contacted to look into the matter.

Threat against trade unionist31-12-2012

In December 2012, a gang of heavily armed thugs came to the home of the General Secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU). He was not at home but police investigation established that the gangs had been acting on instruction with an intention to harm and possibly assassinate him.

Anti-union employers in the wine industry31-12-2011

A 96-page report, “Ripe with Abuse: Human Rights Conditions in South Africa’s Fruit and Wine Industries”, issued in August by Human Rights Watch (HRW) disclosed on-site housing unfit for habitation, exposure to pesticides without proper safety equipment, lack of access to toilets or drinking water while working and barriers to union representation. The report went on to say that farm workers are some of the most poorly organised in South Africa. It estimated the percentage of workers represented by trade unions in the Western Cape agricultural sector was just 3%, compared with 30% among those with formal employment nationally. HRW found some farmers try to prevent workers from forming unions, in spite of the country’s laws. Proof that unions can help, in the rare cases where workers succeed in organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. , is Sikhula Sonke, a women-led union of farm workers, which says its members now earn the minimum wage of 1,375 rand a month, unlike many in this poorly monitored industry.

Labour brokerage denies workers their rights11-12-2011

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called for a ban on labour broking practices in South Africa, explaining that “the system of labour broking guarantees employers an abundant supply of cheap labour that does not enjoy the benefits accorded to other workers and thus perpetuates the exploitation of our people and the negation of their living standards". Other unions support the call for the ban. Christina Oliver, Vice President of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) described labour brokerage as “a form of modern day slavery”, because workers have no job security, often don’t dare join the union for fear of being rejected by the broker, and earn only the minimum wage while permanent workers doing the same job earn more.

High levels of casual labour undermining union rights 31-12-2011

The situation of workers at a poultry factory highlighted the plight of casual workers. The factory, owned by Early Bird Farm, a division of Astral Foods, claimed in January to employ a total of 1,100 workers, of whom 600 were casual workers. The workers themselves claimed that the number of casual employees was much higher. The casual workers said they were brought into the company by labour consultant agencies, or brokers. Most “casual” workers had been working on a “permanent basis” for several years but were not receiving any benefits. They were not affiliated to any labour union and the unions were not allowed to intervene in the event of a dispute. The issue of contract labour, or labour brokerage as it is called in South Africa, was under review as part of the government’s consultation process on the proposed new labour laws – the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and the Employment Services Amendment Bill.

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