A number of social movements and trade unions met in Germiston at the Casual Workers Advice Office to discuss a campaign opposing the latest amendments to the Labour Relations Act (LRA). The proposed amendments will effectively make it difficult for workers to go on strike, and unions will find it difficult to build support for the strikes. Negotiations at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) led to an agreement between employers and the main trade union federations in the country. The proposed law includes compulsory strike ballots that will be held in secret, new picketing rules, extension of conciliations and other new measures that make going on strike difficult. The meeting was also opposed to the National Minimum Wage set by NEDLAC. [For details on the new laws see article in this edition].
The meeting agreed to mobilise all the affected workers to join the campaign, including sections of the working class. The absence of unions, and the fact that the big unions had agreed to these changes at NEDLAC made many an activist nervous about inviting unions and federations to join the campaign. Debates about whether unions like COSATU should be included followed, with activists citing the fact that COSATU had agreed to the amendments at NEDLAC. Member unions of SAFTU proposed to speak to SAFTU which was absent in the meeting. The absence of official SAFTU representation led to a big debate at the meeting. Member unions of SAFTU, including NUMSA and GIWUSA, argued that they also come representing SAFTU. Other activists expressed opposition to what they said appears to be big unions invited just to take control without mobilising workers on the ground.
The next meeting was scheduled for 10 February 2018, at 20 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.