South Africa


Regular violations of rights

Same as last year


Workers' rights violations

Silencing the age of anger

In Johannesburg, workers from the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) were shot by police with rubber bullets during a protest at Makro in Germiston, on 25 November 2022.

The incident happened after the union embarked on a nationwide strike in demand of an across-the-board wage increase. The union’s spokesperson, Sithembile Tshwete, also condemned the violence meted out to at least 20 of its members, who suffered injuries inflicted by police.

Union busting

On 24 November 2022, members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) marched to the offices of South Deep mine which is part of Gold Fields and is based in Westonaria. Union members were protesting the management’s active obstruction of the union being recognised.

Since NUMSA started recruiting members at South Deep, they have witnessed how the management of the mine has consistently resorted to anti-union practices to prevent NUMSA from possessing organisational rights.

The protestors handed over a memorandum of 10 demands, including that the company cease the bullying and intimidation of union members, and that it process union applications efficiently and fairly.

Dismissals for participating in strike action

In a protracted collective dispute over wage increases and cash benefits, ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) tried to thwart workers’ efforts to organise collective action. The company applied to the essential services committee (ESC) to declare the manufacturing, supply and distribution of steel as an essential service, which would qualify strikes as unprotected and would leave workers facing dismissals. Fortunately, the committee ruled otherwise, and in favour of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

Earlier in 2022, AMSA had won an urgent temporary interdiction which sought to ban workers who operated coke batteries or blast furnaces, and those in some sections of steel production, from joining the strike, arguing that they were part of essential services. The Labour Court dismissed the interdiction to stop the strike at AMSA, and the NUMSA resumed the strike.

By applying to the ESC, AMSA hoped to delay the strike for six days to allow the company to shut down its two blast furnaces. The ESC found that although there were safety risks in the operations of blast furnaces and coke batteries if not shut down in a controlled and well-managed manner, the risks were not sufficient to allow such infringement on workers’ rights.

Workers’ rights in law

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