In today’s Portfolio Committee on Labour, the ANC unanimously rejected the Labour Relations Amendment Bill 2014, which seeks to prevent the high incidence of violent strikes in South Africa. This rejection can only be seen as complete apathy regarding the seriousness of the ever increasing occurrence of strike violence, which continues to affect innocent members of society.
I introduced the Bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly in October last year as an active legislative step to prevent and lower the incidence of strike related violence which has plagued our land.
In a 4 to 2 vote today, with the IFP abstaining, the ANC brushed aside the Bill with indifference and disregard. The chief reason put forward by the ANC was that there is already a provision in law that adequately deals with this matter, namely section 11 of the Regulation of Gatherings Act (ROGA).
However, if the provisions of that Act were truly effective, as the ANC asserts, why is strike related violence on the increase? According to the SAIRR 2013 South African Survey, between 2010 and 2012 strike related fatalities increased from 7 to 60 injuries increased from 31 to 150 and arrests increased from 271 to 643.
The ANC places false hope in the Regulation of Gatherings Act alone. Rather, we require real and effective measures which protect the public from activities that occur outside of gatherings and that empower the labour court to force arbitration in cases of excessive violence. Neither the Gatherings Act, nor the CCMA were able to stop the Marikana violence or the violence that is currently occurring. More needs to be done.
The evidence is clear – strike violence is a serious matter and we need to do more to put an end to it. The ANC clearly do not share this sentiment.
The DA is steadfast in our belief that nothing must compromise the protection and lawful exercise of workers’ Constitutional rights. This must, however, also be balanced with acting in the best interests of all people, and ensure that the right to strike is coupled with a duty to ensure the safety of all South Africans. For trade unions, with privilege comes responsibility.
The DA will continue to explore every avenue possible to put an end to strike related violence in South Africa.
Shadow Minister of Labour
Source : Democratic Alliance