FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Be careful what you wish for…?
Roger Ronnie draws a balance sheet of the position of the trade union movement today. While analysing trade unions as organisations dealing with more than simply wages and employment conditions, the author also considers their political limitations and assesses the gains and losses flowing from the 1995 LRA from a trade union perspective.In particular, the advent and growing entrenchment of “trade union legalism” within South Africa’s capitalist system is highlighted. The article concludes by making recommendations on how trade unions can try to avoid these pitfalls and promote the rights of workers more effectively.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Effects on the employment relationship of the insolvency of the employer: A worker perspective
Peter Carolus, Thierry Galani Tiemeni and Kurt Ziervogel, look critically at the Insolvency Act prior to the amendments of 2002 and the limited protection it gave workers on the insolvency of the employer. The effect of the Act was that workers’ contracts of employment were automatically terminated by their employer’s insolvency, leaving them with a limited preferent claim against the employer’s insolvent estate.The authors discuss how the 2002 amendments to the Insolvency Act and the LRA addressed these problems by providing for the suspension rather than termination of employment contracts in the event that the business can be saved or sold as a going concern. They also discuss the right of workers as creditors to appoint their own liquidator to supervise the liquidation process and conclude with a detailed examination of challenges faced by trade unions on issues arising from the insolvency of employers.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Ten years of the CCMA – An assessment for labour
Ronald Bernikow examines certain key areas of the CCMA’s operations and the challenges it faces within the broader context of our labour laws. The article deals with the current state of CCMA service delivery as well as the debate over what has been termed the “over-proceduralisation” of dispute resolution at the CCMA.It discusses areas where the CCMA can, from the perspective of labour, be said to be performing well, as well as pointing to various shortcomings or gaps in the statutory dispute resolution framework. It concludes that the CCMA is a legitimate and important institution that has promoted a common industrial citizenship and provided a platform for confronting future challenges.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: A summary of some cases on HIV/AIDS
Sam Rugege provides concise commentary on two important recent judgments involving discrimination on the basis of H!V/AIDS. The first is a decision by the South African Constitutional Court in Hoffmann v South AJrican Airways  I I BCLR 121 1 (CC) based on the constitutional equality clause.This case raised important issues relating to the extent to which employers can justify discrimination on the basis of the requirements of a job or the perceived prejudices of the public. In addition. novel questions arose in relation to the appropriate remedy for unfair discrimination in cases where an employer has refused to employ applicants on the basis of their HIV status. The second case is a decision of the Namibian Labour Court in N v Minister of DeJence (2000) 21 ILJ 999 (NmLC). The applicant in this case was refused employment in the Defence Force because he tested HIV positive. The court found that this constituted unfair discrimination as envisaged by the Namibian Labour Act of 1992 and ordered the applicantÆs enlistment subject to a medical test.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: The growing informalisation of work: Challenges for labour
Rudi Dicks discusses the South African phenomenon of “informalisation” of the workforce, which is characterised by workers shifting from permanent employment to casualised and fixed-term contracts, outsourcing and employment through labour brokers.These forms of employment are accompanied by, lack of job security, undermining of basic conditions of employment, erosion of workplace rights and decreasing access to skills and equity at work. The author considers the effects of the process and concludes by suggesting measures to provide legislative protection to vulnerable workers, including the establishment of a tripartite statutory body to regulate labour brokers; the development of a code of good practice for workers engaged in atypical employment contracts and improving monitoring and enforcement mechanisms through tougher penalties.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Get rights right in the interests of security of tenure
Review of Land, Power & Custom: Controversies Generated by South Africa’s Communal Land Rights Act, edited by Aninka Claassens & Ben Cousins; xv and pp 392 with accompanying DVD. Legal Resources Centre & UCT Press, Cape Town, 2008 Ann Pope gives a detailed overview of a book on a topic that has assumed critical importance in South Africa and, at the same time, analyses and comments on difficulties and dilemmas that have been encountered in securing indigenous land rights.The book was collated following the enactment of the Communal Land Rights Act 11 of 2004 and the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act 41 of 2003, in preparation for a challenge to the constitutionality of the former Act by alleging that it “undermines the rights of rural people to make them less secure than before”. Judgment in Tongoane and Others v National Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs and Others (11678/2006)  ZAGPPHC 127 (30 October 2009) has since been delivered, its findings being mostly in favour of the applicants. An analysis of the judgment is followed by further reflection on a number of issues. The discussion shows that, while the applicants in Tongoane can rightly claim victory for succeeding in having several provisions of the CLRA declared unconstitutional, important questions remain unanswered. The author suggests that the implications of such omissions will need careful and thoughtful treatment by the Constitutional Court during the confirmation hearing at the beginning of March 2010. At the time of publication the judgment in this hearing was not yet available.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: A summary of some recent cases of interest to the African continent
Sam Rugege discusses a few recent cases dealing with issues of African continental interest. These include the right of defence force members to join trade unions and to participate in protest action (South Africa); the right of the press to freedom of expression and the duty to inform the public on matters of public interest (Zimbabwe); the right of prisoners to vote in national elections (South Africa); the right of a citizen spouse to have her foreign spouse live permanently with her in her home country (Zimbabwe); the power of the National Assembly to suspend a member of the assembly and the right of a member to freedom of expression (South Africa); and succession rights in African kingdoms in the era of republican democracy (Uganda).Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: The plight of domestic workers: The elusiveness of access to adequate housing
South Africa’s transformative Constitution calls for a holistic approach to realising the right to human dignity. To marginalised groups, such as domestic workers, this right is not confined to achieving better wages and working conditions; it touches every aspect of their lives. Central to this endeavour is the quest for adequate housing. This article discusses the experience of a housing cooperative consisting predominantly of domestic workers in campaigning for adequate housing, especially at local government level, as part of the struggle to achieve a secure and dignified existence. While identifying formidable obstacles, it also shows the interconnectedness of the various challenges and the need for a integrated approach in addressing them.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Towards a more activist parliament more engaged with civil society - F1
This contribution consists of the edited text of a speech delivered by Yunis Carrim at the launch of the Community Law Centre’s Parliamentary Programme in Cape Town on 20 October 2010, and is reproduced here because of the importance of the issues it addresses in the context of South Africa’s evolving democratic practice.The central conclusion is that "neither Parliament nor civil society organisations are sufficiently recognising the value of effective engagement between them. Yet if they worked creatively together they would be able to put the executive under more pressure to deliver more effectively. ... The state alone cannot ensure a significant improvement in service delivery and development. ... So new opportunities are opening up for a more active role for civil society organisations. Let us make creative use of this. It’s over as much to you as it is to Parliament to do so. Are you up to it?"Download full text.