PAY TALKS: A group of textile workers in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro area  take to the streets in support of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union’s 2012 wage negotiations. Picture: THE HERALD
PAY TALKS: A group of textile workers in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro area take to the streets in support of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union’s 2012 wage negotiations. Picture: THE HERALD

THE row in this paper about the workers in the Newcastle textile mills boils down to this : Nicoli Nattrass, Jeremy Seekings and Ann Bernstein believe that the workers should be able to choose to work at those mills under those conditions.

Their detractors believe that the workers should not be allowed to choose and should be thrown onto the scrapheap of unemployment. They believe the workers should be forced into jobless hunger and humiliation rather than accept jobs that they do not happen to approve of.

Our labour laws are immoral and violate a most basic human right: the right to work — the right of every adult to seek and accept work without impediments from other parties.

These wicked laws, drawn up by the rich and the powerful, shut the poor and the powerless out of the formal economy.

Drawn up by the unholy triumvirate of government, big business and trade union bosses, these laws make jobs so dangerous and expensive for employers that only the rich can afford to employ.

They are in large part responsible for South Africa’s catastrophic levels of unemployment, mass poverty and inequality. Our greatest gap is that between those with jobs and those without.

The real "race to the bottom" is when our labour laws become more restrictive and expensive. For a poor person to get any job is to get a toehold into the economy from which he or she can begin a career. "No!" say the supporters of the labour laws.

" Go and starve!"

I have never received an answer to this fundamental question: A, B and C are consenting adults. If A offers B a job under certain conditions and B accepts, what right has C got to stop him?

Andrew Kenny

Noordhoek NEWCASTLE AND THE RIGHT TO WORK