What the spat between Cosatu, Black Like Me boss is all about

2015-07-13 19:15

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Johannesburg - Cosatu in the Free State has called for a boycott of entrepreneur and Free Market Foundation (FMF) chairperson Herman Mashaba’s hair care products.

This is because the trade union federation in the province believes Mashaba is trying to attack the bargaining council system, and thus undermine workers' rights, with his court challenge to section 32 of the Labour Relations Act, which he began in March 2013.

A bargaining council consists of trade unions and employers who meet to deal with collective agreements, solve labour disputes and make proposals on labour policies and laws.

Here is a brief list of what the law says, and what Cosatu and the FMF are arguing over.

Section 32 of the LRA:

- A bargaining council can ask the labour minister to extend an agreement, for example on wages or working conditions, to those who are not party to it.

- Trade unions and employer organisations in the bargaining council have to vote in favour of the extension for it to apply.

- Within 60 days of receiving the request, the minister must extend the collective agreement by publishing a notice in the Government Gazette, declaring that it will be binding on the non-parties specified in the notice.

- The collective agreement must make provision for an independent body to hear an appeal by a non-party, in cases where the council refused that non-party’s application for exemption from the agreement.

- The terms of the agreement must not discriminate against non-parties. 

The Free Market Foundation:

- Is not challenging the bargaining council system.

- Is taking issue with the fact that the labour minister “must”, according to section 32 (2), extend bargaining council agreements to non-parties.

- It wants “must” to be changed to “may”.

- It wants businesses to be free to decide whether they want to be party to bargaining council agreements, and decide on solutions that work best for them, instead of being forced to do so by law.  

- Argues that extending such agreements eliminates competition and favours bigger players.

- Says these agreements negatively affect smaller firms and discourage entrepreneurs from setting up enterprises.

- Bargaining council agreements remove people’s right to choose those employers that will offer the best working conditions and salaries.

Cosatu’s Free State executive committee:

- Argues that the FMF’s court challenge is an attack on the bargaining council system.

- Says Mashaba, who started a hair care product company in 1985, is exploiting the young black women who buy his products.

- It believes Mashaba wants to ensure these young black women do not have decent jobs or enjoy fundamental workers’ rights.

- Has called for a boycott of Mashaba’s Black Like Me products.

Cosatu’s Free State secretary, Monyatso Mahlatsi, said he would only be able to respond to Mashaba’s latest statement on Tuesday.

Cosatu’s national spokesperson, Norman Mampane, said the chance that Cosatu would adopt a resolution at its ordinary congress in November calling for a boycott of Mashaba’s products “is 100%”.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  herman mashaba  |  bloemfontein

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