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South Africa: Code of Good Practice to Tackle Violent Wage Strikes

Cape Town — A new draft Code of Good Practice has been drawn up to deal with the length and violent nature of protests during industrial action, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

Fielding questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday, the Deputy President said the draft document is part of deliberations that are underway at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) between social partners, including business, labour and government.

He had been asked what measures government is considering to reduce the protracted and violent nature of strikes, as well as the progress that has been made in reaching agreement among the Nedlac social partners.

"The deliberations on labour stability are nearing completion. A meeting of the Committee of Principals on 22 October found common ground on most of the areas negotiated in the task team.

"These include a draft Code of Good Practice on Collective Bargaining, Industrial Action and Picketing. The code aims to strengthen and promote orderly collective bargaining and provide clear guidelines to both employers and employees during industrial action. It includes a code on picketing, which, among other things, provides generic picketing rules," Deputy President Ramaphosa said.

The drafting of the Code of Good Practice comes after President Jacob Zuma called for social partners to deliberate on the violent nature and duration of the strikes, extensive deliberations have been underway in NEDLAC on measures to improve labour market stability and collective bargaining.

The Code of Good Practice was drafted as part of work that has been undertaken by a technical task team that reports to a Committee of Principals, which Deputy President Ramaphosa chairs. The Deputy President said a separate technical task team has been discussing wage inequality and the introduction of a national minimum wage.


He said social partners are also close to finalising an accord in which all parties represented in Nedlac commit themselves to promote the constitutional rights of all, collective bargaining and peaceful industrial action.

"The draft accord contains a declaration that violence, intimidation and damage to property is unacceptable during industrial action.

"It also deals with issues such as the conduct of the South African Police Service and private security during industrial action, the role of the CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] in facilitation and mediation and the training of negotiators through the Department of Higher Education and Training and the SETAs," he said.

The Deputy President said, meanwhile, that Nedlac social partners have also had extensive talks on proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act.

He said the aim of the talks was to strengthen the dispute resolution process and give effect to some of the measures contained in the Code of Good Practice.

"The work done by the technical task team to date is remarkable. It has tackled some of the most challenging and contentious issues in our labour market environment and developed sustainable solutions that have the support of all social partners.

"The Committee of Principals intends to meet before the end of the month to resolve the few areas on which agreement has not yet been reached," the Deputy President said.

Last modified onSunday, 20 November 2016 17:52
Gary Watkins

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