The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) presented its submission on the Copyright Amendment and Performers Protection Bills to Parliament’s Select Committee: Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour yesterday.
COSATU supports the Copyright Amendment Bill as a necessary modernisation of our existing and woefully outdated Copyright Act. It provides the necessary balance and compromise between recognising and protecting , which is key to attracting investments on the one hand, and on the other hand, to support the state’s developmental objectives of enabling access to educational and other key materials for learners, students and persons with visual disabilities. Critically it also provides key provisions to help protect the rights of musicians and other cultural workers to the royalties from their creative works.
COSATU welcomes the Performers Protection Bill as a progressive intervention to lay a foundation to ensure that actors and other performers can enjoy the labour rights and protections afforded to them by the Constitution. Whilst South Africa’s labour laws are lauded for their progressive provisions, actors and other performers are denied these protections, rights and benefits. This is partly because of drafting and administrative weaknesses in these labour laws and the labour market institutions established to enforce them. It is also due to production houses and other employers, who believe that treating actors and other performers little better than glorified slaves is a sound economic model. The Performers Protection Bill provides a basis for putting in a place a new legal regime to ensure that actors and performers are recognised as workers and afforded the protections due to them.
We have witnessed time and again renowned musicians condemned to a life and retirement in absolute squalor. Countless actors have been forced to choose between undertaking medical treatment for life threatening ailments or going to work for a 6 month job. We have seen actors injured and even dying on site yet not being covered by the Compensation of Occupational Injury and Diseases Fund. Despite the massive amount of relief of R64 billion released from the Unemployment Insurance Fund during the Covid-19 lockdown to more than 5.7 million workers, actors and musicians were not able to receive any given their lack of formal employment and fixed monthly salaries.
Whilst these Bills will not resolve all of these challenges faced by these workers, they will lay a positive transformational foundation to begin addressing them. Engagements on the necessary further amendments to key labour laws are taking place at Nedlac to address these multiple challenges.
The Federation appreciates the extensive engagements and compromises that Parliament has undertaken on these two critical bills over the past 7 years. We believe that these have helped ensure the necessary compromises and safeguards have been put in place. We are confident that the Bills will pass constitutional muster. What we cannot afford to do is to continue to allow musicians to die in poverty or actors to be treated like indentured labour any longer.
Issued by COSATU
For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks-Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687