Numsa calls for a strike to protect right to protest

Johannesburg -  The National Union of Mineworkers (Numsa) on Thursday called on its members to protest against the proposed labour law amendments which they claim would make going on strike impossible.

Numsa, the country’s largest labour union, wants its members to down tools on April 25 “to defend the right to strike”. 

Parliament is currently considering amendments to the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, as well as the new National Minimum Wage Bill.

The union said the new regulations would come into effect on May 1.

“If implemented, it will make it impossible for workers to go on strike,” said Numsa in a statement. Numsa is part of a coalition of 21 pro-labour movements that have rejected the proposed changes.

The proposed amendments would among other things introduce measures that would curb violent protests and would require trade unions to hold secret ballots to decide on strikes. Numsa has rejected the voting process as “complicated, costly and cumbersome”.

They demand that the regulation be scrapped as they undermine workers’ rights and would allow companies to use “scab labour” during protected strikes. 

“These laws will be applied to all workers in South Africa, but the majority of the workers were not consulted,” said Numsa.

The union claimed that only the leadership of the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) were consulted during the drafting of the amendments.

Workers in South African often embark on strikes, demanding higher wages and better working conditions, with some of the strikes turning violent. 

The right to strike is protected by the Constitution.

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