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Organise yourselves - urges Minister

by lloyd last modified 2008-09-30 16:58

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana called on workers in George to organise themselves to fight for their rights.

Released by Department of Labour on 15 April 2008

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana called on workers in George to organise themselves to fight for their rights.  He was addressing hundreds of people gathered at Thembalethu community hall in George today (Tues).  Mdladlana warned the workers, “You have to be careful of making government your union as this may have a backlash in the future.”


“Yours is to come together and speak in one voice.” He said.  But the call was met with cries from the floor that shop stewards were victimised by employers.  The Minister responded with a question, “where is the trade union in that case?”    


The rural town of George has a high unemployment which stood at 20% of its 160,000 population in 2005.  The Minister also heard of gross ill-treatment and exploitation of workers.  A member of the community claimed one worker was “forced to spend the night with a monkey – (the employer’s pet) as punishment for failing to pitch for work.”


The Minister was on the last lap of a two day Imbizo in the Western Cape which also focussed on Occupational Health and Safety inspections in farms, timber and garment factories.  Whereas he was satisfied with the level of compliance at Voorentoe farm, Potterville, the Minister expressed concerns at the high level of incidents at the Sawmill Timber plant.  The forestry concern had 88 non-life threatening incidents at its various plants in one year. 


The Minister also issued a stern warning to Labour brokers that their days are numbered as plans to introduce new legislation are afoot to force them to account for the workers.   Mdladlana also lashed out at employers who continue to employ young children. 


“Children under 15 years of age belong to school not work. We will continue to take harsh action against law-breakers.”


The department has in recent weeks had three successful prosecutions against law flouting employers.  The latest was in Peddie, Eastern Cape last week.

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