Claims over strikes dismissed

2015-05-13 06:00

THE government has noted with concern media reports insinuating that labour strikes could fuel attacks on foreign nationals, Phumla Williams, acting cabinet spokesperson, says.

She dismissed the claims that the possible strikes by organised labour might lead to the attacks.

“There is no link between the possible labour strikes and attacks on foreign nationals. Actually, government has been hard at work ensuring that such violent acts don’t happen again. To link the labour issues with the attacks is quite frankly unfounded, especially as the continent is celebrating Africa Month.

“All that government is doing is to promote social cohesion, hence the inter-ministerial committee is focusing on Operation Fiela. Therefore, the industrial action and demands made by the organised labour should not be confused with criminal activities that sometimes arise in the midst of a strike. The season is a period where workers exercise their democratic right against their employers, and strike actions and pickets are allowed in a democra-tic country.”

The rights of workers are further supported by the Labour Relations Act, which regulates the right to strike for the South African labour market. “The act empowers workers with the right to strike and employers with the right to lock out – as long as it is within the confines of the law. However, it does not protect criminal activities perpetrated under the disguise of strikes,” said Williams.

The Bill of Rights states that everyone has a right to assemble, demonstrate and picket peacefully and unarmed. The government has put in place mechanisms to deal with strikes or lock-out situations without interfering with these rights.

Williams said that in instances where strikes became violent, put people’s lives in danger and lead to damage to property, the law had to take its course.

“Criminal activities during strike action – irrespective of whom they are directed at, are not acceptable and perpetrators will have to face the might of the law.”

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