Unfair labour practice refers to any unjust conduct or omission between an employer and employee that involves unjust treatment of the employee with respect to promotion, demotion, or benefits in a company or organization, as stated by the Labour Relations of South Africa. Sadly, South Africa is currently experiencing frequent strikes by dissatisfied employees due to the violation of labour laws by employers in the workplace. Every employee in South Africa is entitled to protection against unfair dismissal and discrimination in the workplace, including the right to be provided with adequate resources and equipment to perform their job, safe working conditions, and timely and accurate remuneration. Despite this, some employers choose to ignore these laws.
On June 1st, 2023, in Durban, employees of a cleaning company outsourced by Transnet went on strike. Despite company policies and government policies, the employees marched on the streets to voice their grievances. It is with sadness that they were not paid their salaries for two months straight. It's hard to believe that people can work for over eight weeks without getting paid for their sweat and dedication. The employees were contracted by a company called "Masihloniphaneni Trading," which translates to "Let Us Respect Each Other, Trading." Sadly, the company failed to live up to its name and values by infringing on its workers' rights. When protesting on the streets seems like the only solution, what happens when the employer tries to prevent such a protest?
Workers may face severe consequences from their employers for participating in an unprotected strike, including possible dismissal. During such an event, employees lose the protections of labour laws, rendering them vulnerable to legal action and potential termination. Often, employees demand their agreed-upon remuneration, but this can lead to conflict, as seen in the case of Transnet Company in Durban, where workers blocked the entrance in protest. While the introduction of agents and third-party service providers was well-intentioned, they have been known to violate labour laws- or more specifically, unpaid labour.The farming, cleaning, and security industries are some of the biggest violators of fair labour practices. On July 13th, 2023, the Minister of Employment and Labour, T.W. Nxesi, emphasized the increase in issues related to basic employee registrations being violated.
"We are going to be tough on employers who violate labour laws. We start with corrective measures, but if they continue to violate these laws, we will issue a fine in court. Unfortunately, the fines are often insignificant to these employers, and they continue to break the law. Now, we are working on a new law that will allow us to deal with these employers' profits. If we find an employer in violation of labour laws and have given them warnings to correct their behaviour and they still violate these laws for the third time, we will take a percentage of their profits. This new law will send a clear message to violators," said, Minister Nxesi.
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