COSATU welcomes the decision of the International Labour Organisation to refer the right to strike to the International Court of Justice

13 November 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the decision of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation to refer “the right to strike of workers and their organizations protected under the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87)” to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for affirmation. 

This critical right of workers and trade unions to strike is at the heart of the world’s modern industrial relations, labour market stability and democracy.  Yet we shamefully have countless governments and employers who still believe that we live in an era where workers must be treated little better than slaves and their rights need not be respected.

Organised Labour and those progressive governments, including South Africa, supporting our stance believe a court ruling affirming the rights of workers and unions to strike is key to ensuring workers’ hard won labour rights, including to work in a safe environment and to a living wage, are key to improving the lives and working conditions of workers, to boosting economic productivity and entrenching democracy.

We urge the ICJ to prioritise this hearing and to allow for Organised Labour to present its views on this fundamental matter to billions of workers across the globe.  We are confident we will win this prescient case and this will be place further pressure on those governments and employers still found wanting, to accept the principles of decent work and fair labour practises as well as the rights to strike and unionise.

Issued by COSATU

For comment please contact:

Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687