The Congress of the People held on 26th June 1955 in Kliptown amongst others declared that “All who work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage agreements with their employers”. This has found an expression in the constitution of our country which says that “Everyone has the right to fair labour practices. (2) Every worker has the right- (a) to form and join a trade union; (b) to participate in the activities and programmes of a trade union; and (c) to strike.”
In recent days we have seen this right being taken away by some companies in our province which work with some unions.
As COSATU we have been shocked by the conduct of Impala platinum when it unilaterally derecognised NUM without verifying the membership that the union has in the company and also without making sure that those who have joined other unions have done so freely without intimidation or force.
Impala is a union-bashing company against the NUM which is the COSATU affiliate. There are unions that do not meet the requirement of the LRA but their agreements are still in good condition with Impala. It is clear that Impala is fighting the NUM and the federation due to their affiliation with the political party in government. This means Impala is being used politically to destroy the ANC government.
We are challenging Impala to convince the workers that our allegations are wrong. They must prove to the public that what they are doing with NUM is in line with any of our country’s laws and constitutional rights.
Impala management is being managed by the political parties that are opposing the transformation of our workplaces and they want weak unions.
It is disappointing that any leader of NUM at Impala is now being told to go, and that the subscriptions of members that belong to the NUM are stopped. This is what we call union-bashing as under the old apartheid regime.
The Charter further states that “There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers; Miners, domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the same rights as all others who work;”
This has been the aspiration of all working men and women of our country but all these seems to have ended in Kliptown on the 26th June 1955 and will remain nothing but a pipe-dream to the workers and the working class in general in this country.
Employers in this country are given freedom to exploit workers and to terminate their employment as it pleases them, without considering their interests.
What is more worrying is that companies and government departments allow fly-by-night unions to be formed without following the Labour Relations Act and the company policies and collective agreements. This for us is one way of undermining our hard-won democracy that we fought for.
The Department of Education in the North West is allowing a union which does not have organisational rights to operate in this province and many other departments are doing so.
While we know the rights, we also know the limitations of those rights which are in the Labour Relations Act and we urge all to abide by the law.
COSATU has observed the current spate of attacks on the workers and their organisations, particularly in the area of Rustenburg in the North West province and will not leave the situation unchallenged.
We are also demanding that all workers who were dismissed during unprotected strikes in the mining sector be reinstated, all of them unconditionally, and that the 1300 workers dismissed at Rainbow Chicken be reinstated unconditional.
COSATU has taken upon itself to march to protect these rights of the workers and the people of South Africa.
We are also calling the Minister of Labour to be decisive in making sure that labour laws and policies are respected by every union, not only unions that are affiliated to COSATU.
Therefore COSATU will be marching to the big employers of this province and government on 9 February 2013 in Rustenburg to demand the end of job losses, the end of union-bashing and that our members must be protected during working hours.
The march will start at the Rustenburg taxi rank at 09h00. Memoranda will be delivered to the employers at 14h00 at the Rustenburg municipality on the same day.
We are calling on all our members and other workers who are being exploited by this capitalist agenda to join our action peacefully.
Media is invited. We are also please requesting media people not to be one-sided. Go to Impala and see for yourselves the union-bashing we are talking about.