20 September 2012

South Africa: Proposed Legislation On Strike Violence Referred to Labour Committee

press release

A Private Member's Bill proposed by the DA to hold unions accountable and financially liable for the misconduct of their members during strikes was yesterday referred to the Labour Committee for consideration.

The Private Members Bill submitted by the DA in October 2010 sought to amend the Labour Relations Act of 1995 and proposed that unions be held accountable for their members' misconduct during strikes. We believe it will go some way to protect non-striking workers and the general public from violence and intimidation, and to protect public and private property from malicious destruction during strike action.

The legislation would make unions liable for, amongst others, penalties and damages for the illegal and undisciplined behaviour of individual members.

The proposal was approved by the Committee for Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions, a rather rare occurrence in the short history of our democratic Parliament.

This Private Members Bill has been strongly opposed by COSATU, with Zwelinzima Vavi stating that he would personally make sure that the bill is kept out of Parliament on the grounds that it would bankrupt the unions. If Mr Vavi is worried about Cosatu's finances, he should do more to control the actions of his members who wantonly destroy public property during strike action.

The DA will continue to ensure that the democratic right to strike is exercised responsibly. All unions must be held accountable for the behaviour of its members.

Ian Ollis

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