LRA PROCESS

The past few weeks have seen a lot of comments on the LRA process, in particular how the parliamentary process should be managed. Organisations such as SACOB and AHI have not only engaged in the process of lobbying, but have gone on to call on the Parliamentary Standing Committee to call for public hearings as well as to give them a chance to raise those issues which were not discussed in NEDLAC. Lobbying is part of democracy and COSATU will not complain about that. We however want to make it clear that these organisations know nothing about democracy. Their new found acceptance of transparency and accountability is based on either wanting to change the NEDLAC Agreement or is a repudiation of Organised Business negotiators. It is also part of their strategy to delay passage of the Bill by Parliament this year.

It is common knowledge that COSATU participated, as part of Organised Labour in the NEDLAC negotiations, leading to the NEDLAC Agreement and resolution adopted by the NEDLAC Executive on 17 July 1995. The NEDLAC resolution, of which we were part and still uphold, resolved, among others, as follows:

1. To recommend the adoption by Cabinet of the draft Labour Relations Bill subject to the necessary revisions and stated reservations of the parties.

2. That the Labour Relations Bill be introduced into Parliament for promulgation into law in the 1995 session of Parliament.

This remains our position to date. We have also stated publicly that Parliament is sovereign and not a rubber stamp body; that it is a legitimate institution that enjoys the confidence of our membership. NEDLAC is a creation of Parliament to advise it on matters relating to the areas of labour law and labour market policies. We remain convinced that in executing their duties, Parliamentarians will be guided by the need for sound relations on the shopfloor, the need to bring South African labour law in line with international standards as well as the NEDLAC Agreement.

The action of Business and those detractors of parliament are aimed at ensuring that we do not have a new labour legislation. We call on Members of Parliament and the ANC, in particular, and Parliament, in general, not to fall for this trap and agenda. The workers of South Africa want a new labour bill this year. They are tired of living in an Apartheid free South Africa, but governed by Apartheid in the workplace. Failure to pass it will be a slap in the face for South African workers and a victory for those who have sought to delay the process. We are taking this position in the best interest of the country and sound labour relations despite our stated reservation, which I repeat, should not impair passage of the Bill this year.