South Africa


Regular violations of rights

Same as last year


Workers' rights violations

Dismissals for participating in strike action

Fourteen shop stewards of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) were fired in January 2021 by Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) for “inciting” workers to stop work on 17 July 2020 after an internal VWSA newsletter revealed that 120 workers had tested positive for the coronavirus and a further 60 were in quarantine while awaiting their COVID-19 test results. Despite mobilisation by the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), Volkswagen South Africa, located in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, refused to reinstate the shop stewards. A complaint was filed with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Right to free speech and assembly

On 30 October 2020, workers from Truda Foods in South Africa gathered to protest the firing of their colleagues for activity on social media. Truda had suspended several workers for “liking” posts made by their union’s general secretary. Olwethu Samente, Vuyiswa Gontsana, Luyanda Qumza, Yolisa Alam, Zethu Sopete and Lungiswa Solundwana received letters suspending them for committing “an action/conduct detrimental to the interest of the employer” and “indecent/inappropriate conduct”. After being suspended, the workers asked to see Truda’s social media policy. Instead, they were fired.

Workers’ rights in law

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