MEMBERS of Parliament’s portfolio committee on labour would make sure during deliberations over the next few weeks that amendments to labour laws prevented another tragedy such as last week’s violence at platinum producer’s Lonmin’s Marikana mine, they said yesterday.
They were reacting to widespread accusations that a big factor in the deaths of 44 people at the mine was rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers and the newer Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
MPs will deliberate a number of proposed amendments to the country’s labour laws over the next few weeks.
Yesterday, after a report from the Department of Labour on the amendments following public hearings, MPs said the law needed to be clear about how companies managed the often conflicting requirements between unions with majority rights and those that have minority rights.
"We cannot have a situation again where a union cannot expand its presence at the workplace because of increased levels of intimidation," Buti Manamela an African National Congress (ANC) MP and secretary of the Young Communist League.
Mr Manamela acknowledged that there were a number of other factors that could have led to the violence, and that Lonmin’s management had refused to negotiate wages with Amcu as it was not recognised at the bargaining council. "However, in a company that has 30,000 workers, even a 1% membership is enough to destabilise the entire factory." Mr Manamela said it was interesting that organised business, particularly Business Unity SA, had mentioned the difficulty of recognising more than one union in the workplace.
Democratic Alliance MP Sej Motau said it was the responsibility of the committee to make sure that it passed a good labour law. The party felt strongly that the organisational rights of workers be inclusive, he said.
Prof Paul Benjamin, answering for the labour department, said the commitment to majoritarianism was not absolute, in terms of the Labour Relations Act, and "a lot of the problems that have emerged is in the employer’s practice and not in law."
Loane Sharp, labour econ-omist at Adcorp, said he thought legislation would change to be more favourable to management. "The Marikana massacre has had a profound impact on the ANC’s psyche. The international humiliation the ANC suffered and the huge contradiction that labour relations are more tense than ever in postapartheid SA."
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