The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is considering organising workers in the cannabis sector, following the Constitutional Court judgment decriminalising the private use of marijuana.
On Tuesday, the union federation said workers’ rights in the burgeoning cannabis industry needed protection.
"Saftu will consider recruiting and organising the new cannabis sector of workers, which is about to take off as a result of change in the milestone Constitutional Court judgment, which will force a rethinking of all legislation and may see government allowing mass production of marijuana for medical purposes.
"Already the local and multinational corporations are working for this eventuality," the federation said in a statement.
Saftu held a press briefing on Tuesday to report on a meeting of its national executive committee, which took place last week.
One of its resolutions taken was that the federation should not be "left behind", and should "position itself" to start organising in the cannabis sector.
At the same time, Saftu said it needed to ensure that workers’ rights to use marijuana, in line with the Constitutional Court’s ruling, were protected.
ConCourt ruling on marijuana
In September, the court ruled that the personal use of marijuana in a private space was not criminal.
"Saftu will work with the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa and the Traditional Healers Associations to ensure that workers in the new industry are protected," Saftu said on Tuesday.
Saftu also said it aimed to recruit the 76% of workers who were not unionised, including casual labourers and those working for labour brokers. The federation said it planned to release all six of its national office bearers to drive the recruitment campaign on the ground, and create a pool of 50 volunteers in every area to drive it.
Pamphlets would also be distributed in both the public and private sector, highlighting the "brutal exploitation" of "workers condemned to more precarious forms of work".
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