Labour law critics don't make fair comparisons – Zuma

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cape Town – Critics of South Africa’s labour laws fail to compare the country’s laws to those of other similar countries or to consider the country’s history when workers had few rights, President Jacob Zuma said today.   

“We don’t even compare South Africa to those in the continent of Africa. We just always say ‘these labour laws are too rigid’, etc, but related or compared to what?” ask Zuma while answering questions by MPs in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) today.

Zuma said while many workers had few rights under apartheid, democracy in 1994 had helped grant labour rights to workers and had also expanded these rights to a wider range of workers, including farmworkers and domestic workers.

He also stressed that the country’s labour laws had not limited development.  

“It is accepted by everyone that (South Africa) is developed and it is growing,” he said.

He said it was crucial for workers to be aware of the need to adhere to the bargaining council system, as it set out rules and regulations for things such as when strikes can be held.
Responding to a question on whether Nedlac -- the dispute resolution body where labour, business and the government can come together -- was still relevant, Zuma said relations between the government, employers and employees were still working well.

He added that the government -- through a team led by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe -- was able to recently intervene in the mining strife in the North West by engaging with mines and mineworkers.

Responding to another question from an MP on the progress of the Special Presidential Package, Zuma said the Department of Human Settlements had set aside R1.1 billion in the current financial year and a further R1.6 billion in 2014/15 to help improve the living and working conditions of mineworkers.

The project is being targeted at the priority sites of Klerksdorp, Emalahleni, Sekhukhune, Lephalale, West Rand and Welkom.

The Saulspoort housing project in Mogwase was approved in 2010 to build 1 120 fully-subsidised houses with a budget allocation of R73.5 million.

Zuma said the Department of Mineral Resources was also monitoring the mining companies’ conversion of single-sex hostels into housing and family units in line with the Mining Charter’s 2014 target.

He said a technical team led by Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, has been set up to deal with any blockages -- such as the quality of long-term plans to ensure more stable industrial relations in mining.

Replying to a question from an MP on what the progress had been in rural interventions carried out in QwaQwa in the Free State, Zuma detailed a number of developments in the area, which is one of the pilot sites for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s Comprehensive Rural Development Programme.

These interventions include new housing in Diyatalawa, an internet centre and the building of a new boarding school for 200 pupils, the improvement of water supply through the construction of a reservoir in Makgolokoeng and the roll out of several income-generating initiatives including a dairy livestock project, an orchard projects and various other vegetable-growing measures. –

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