25 July 2014

South Africa: Ramaphosa Must Fight for LRA's Return to Parliament

press release

Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, must agitate for the Labour Relations Amendment Bill to be returned to Parliament if he is serious about his support for strike balloting.

This follows reports today that the Deputy President has come out in support of the democratisation of labour relations through requiring secret balloting before a strike - thus curbing the high incidence of prolonged strikes.

The Deputy President is quoted as saying "I would take a strike ballot as a normal type of process in the governance of strikes ... I am hugely in support of that."

"In view of the length of strikes that we've seen ... [it] is a matter that should be debated."

Government's realisation that the existing legal framework does little to prevent protracted and violent strikes that disrupt the economy, though belated, is welcome and should be acted on immediately.

Through the introduction of secret balloting, strike activity would be reduced and remove the possibility of union bosses - particularly at COSATU and its affiliates - from engaging in strike action at whim.

The introduction of secret balloting would also give expression to workers' voices and wishes without fear of reprisal.

The Deputy President must show that he is capable of demonstrating the requisite leadership and publicly commit to lobbying President Jacob Zuma to return the LRA Amendment Bill back to Parliament for reconsideration.

The DA has already, in accordance with section 79 of the Constitution, petitioned President Zuma to return the Bill - a request the President has yet to respond to.

With our economy in the midst of yet another strike, now reaching its third week and having barely recovered from the 5 month long strike in the platinum belt, government must be seized with legislative efforts to ensure the democratisation of our labour relations.

The DA challenges Deputy President Ramaphosa to act in the best interest of workers, job creation and economic growth by fighting for the Bill's return to Parliament.

It is time to walk the talk.

Ian Ollis, Shadow Minister of Labour

South Africa

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