No link between labour strikes and attacks on foreign nationals

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pretoria – Government says it has noted with concern media reports insinuating that labour strikes could fuel attacks on foreign nationals.

Acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams on Monday dismissed claims that possible labour strikes may lead to attacks on foreign nationals.

“There is no link between the possible labour strikes and attacks on foreign nationals. Actually, government has been hard at work ensuring that such violent acts don’t happen again.

“To link the labour issues with the attacks is quite frankly unfounded, especially as the continent is celebrating Africa Month,” said Williams.

Williams said government is promoting social cohesion, hence the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration is focusing on Operation Fiela - Reclaim.

She said industrial action and demands made by organised labour should not be confused with the criminal activities that sometimes arise in the midst of a strike.

“[This is the… period] where workers exercise their democratic right against their employers, and strike actions and pickets are allowed in a democratic country. The rights of workers are further supported by the Labour Relations Act, which regulates the right to strike for the South African labour market,” said Williams.

The act empowers workers with the right to strike and employers with the right to lock out – as long as it is within the confines of the law.

However, Williams warned that the act does not protect criminal activities perpetrated under the guise of strikes.

According to the Bill of Rights, everyone has a right to assemble, demonstrate and picket peacefully and unarmed.

Government has put in place mechanisms to deal with strikes or lock-out situations without interfering with these rights.

Williams said in instances where strikes become violent, put peoples’ lives in danger and lead to damage to property, the law must take its course. 

“Criminal activities during strike action - irrespective of whom they are directed at - are not acceptable and perpetrators will have to face the might of the law,” Williams warned. –