Black Like Me founder responds to boycott threat

2015-07-13 05:25
Herman Mashaba (City Press)

Herman Mashaba (City Press)

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Cape Town - Black Like Me founder Herman Mashaba has spoken out against Cosatu’s call for a possible boycott of his products, saying the federation was perhaps not aware that South Africa was a constitutional democracy.

Mashaba has been leading legal action against a section of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), on behalf of the Free Market Foundation (FMF), since April 2013.

Last month, Cosatu’s Free State executive committee discussed “the attempts of the FMF to push back the gains made by the workers in attempting to secure bargaining rights in the workplaces”, and said appropriate action may include a boycott of Mashaba’s products.

Mashaba said on Sunday that he was deeply concerned.

“Do they really think that bullying tactics like these will help steer our failing economy onto the right track? Will this protect the rights of small businesses facing ruin by this Act?  Will it help the 8.3 million unemployed get employment?” he asked.

“Such threats can only reinforce our determination to ask our judiciary to speed up bringing this matter to an open court of law.” 

The FMF was challenging section 32 of the LRA, which compelled the labour minister to extend bargaining council agreements to all parties, including those who were not at the negotiating table. The FMF believed these automatic extensions had a “devastating” impact on smaller businesses.

It said it wanted to change the word “must” to “may” in the act, to allow the minister some scope to reflect.

In a statement last month, Cosatu’s Free State executive said of Mashaba: “He seems to be comfortable raking in super profits from people who support his business, the meagre wages earned by precariat employee women of our country and seems set to perpetuate the situation”.

Cosatu’s acting national spokesperson Norman Mampane said on Sunday that the federation believed it should continue to strengthen the collective bargaining regime.

“As and when such activities are happening, we may elect to be friends of the court in defence of the collective bargaining. As a practical response, we will consider influencing our members not to buy any products that are produced by any related companies that work with FMF,” he said.

“These companies are undermining all collective bargaining in South Africa”.

Jayne Boccaleone, speaking on behalf of the FMF, said all affidavits and answering affidavits had been filed in the High Court in Pretoria.

“The heads of argument have to be in next month. We are expecting a court hearing as soon as possible after August. We also expect it to go to the Constitutional Court,” she said.

Note: Precariate is a portmanteau obtained by merging precarious with proletariat. It describes someone in the lowest working class who does not enjoy job security.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  herman mashaba  |  labour

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