The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace gazetted by the Department of Employment and Labour. It is the product of extensive and constructive engagements between government, labour and business and in line with the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 190 on Sexual Harassment at the Workplace. When implemented it will help alleviate the plight of millions of workers, in particular women, as well as African, Coloured and Indian, subjected to sexual and racial harassment at the workplace.
It provides a useful guide for how harassment, sexual but also racial and other forms of discrimination, should be handled at workplaces. It provides clarity on what constitutes harassment, what protections employers must put in place to protect workers, what mechanisms exist for workers to lay complaints, how they should be handled and leave for distressed workers where needed. It also provides a protective and inclusive framework to protect workers.
It is critical that all employers and their human resource departments familiarise themselves with the Guide and ensure their policies are in line with it. Unions need to undertake education and training programmes to ensure workers, Shopstewards and Organisers are aware and empowered with regards to its provisions.
Government, and in particular Treasury, needs to ensure that the CCMA and the Labour Courts are adequately resourced to enable them to fulfill their functions. Workers should not have to wait 3 months for hearings to be heard at the CCMA or 2 years for the cases to be processed in the Labour Courts. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Employers, in both the public and private sectors, need to work with trade unions to strengthen collective bargaining to deal with workplace harassment and overcome the toxic cultures where such abuses take place.
Issued by COSATU.
For further information please contact: Matthew Parks- COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687