COSATU rejects with contempt the DA’s shocking proposals to cancel women workers’ protections 

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) rejects the Democratic Alliance (DA)’s shocking proposals to cancel the many labour rights women workers have achieved since the dawn of democracy.

The DA seemingly not content to merely deny 6 million plus workers the right to a minimum wage, now has proposed that more than 90% of employers be exempted from our entire labour protections framework.  This approach will spell doom for 8 million women workers amongst others.  It will mean the end of every single gain women have enjoyed under our labour laws.

The DA in its self-declared war on workers, has committed a DA regime to exempting employers from the:

  • National Minimum Wage that has raised the wages of over 6 million farm, domestic, retail, restaurant, hospitality, construction, cleaning and other workers; the majority of whom are women.
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act that guarantees workers the right to work in a safe environment and to have adequate protections from risks to injuries, diseases or death.  Seemingly the DA misses the days when one mine workers died daily at work before 1994.  The tragedy of the George building collapse this week is a reminder that this is not a joke.
  • Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Fund that provides protections and financial relief for workers who have may been injured, disabled or affected by a disease or post-traumatic stress or passed away from workplace incidents.  One would have thought the DA would have celebrated the inclusion of 900 000 domestic workers under the Compensation Fund in 2023, but seemingly no, Black women are good enough to clean up after the entitled DA Members of Parliament and their Bishops’ dinner parties but not good enough to have workplace insurance.
  • Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) that provides relief to workers when they lose their jobs and paid maternity, parental and adoption leave.  Whilst the DA claims it wants to increase maternity and parental leave, these commitments are meaningless if employers are exempted from the Unemployment Insurance Act which provides for these to be paid leave.  The DA claims to be a champion of the unemployed, but it’s the same UIF whose mandate has been extended to provide support for struggling companies and their employees while they implement turnaround plans.
  • Employment Equity Act which requires employers to make progress in addressing the legacies of the past and the still prevalent inequalities of today.  Under a DA regime employers would have no obligation to move from a place where over 56% of senior management posts in the private sector are held by White males.
  • Labour Relations Act which provides a legal framework for how labour relations are to be conducted in pursuit of labour market stability.  In fact, the DA’s proposals to exempt companies from the LRA which governs the right to unionise, collective bargaining and when aggrieved to strike; would fail constitutional muster as these rights are provided for in the Constitution!

The DA’s proposals will collapse every single labour right and protection workers, and in particular women have painstakingly achieved since 1994. 

The message of the DA to women workers is clear.  Under the DA the rights and benefits millions of women have enjoyed from paid maternity leave to equal pay for equal work, from protection from sexual harassment at the workplace to unemployment insurance would be gone.  Whilst the rest of the world is moving forward, the DA wants to take South Africa backwards. 

Whilst these incendiary antics may excite the DA’s youthful but clearly inexperienced MPs, they are deeply offensive to the nurse in Bishop Lavis, the farm worker in De Doorns and the cleaner in Manenberg.

This is precisely why COSATU is visiting workplaces across the country to ensure workers know what is at stake, that we come out in our millions to defend the gains workers have won since 1994 and that the only party that has championed the needs of workers and the unemployed, not only now in the excitement for votes, but where it counts, in passing our progressive labour laws; the African National Congress is returned to office with an absolute majority.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator 
Cell: 082 785 0687