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Fact Check — Does the DA genuinely want to cancel SA workers’ rights?

Fact Check — Does the DA genuinely want to cancel SA workers’ rights?
Cosatu has alleged that a DA government would wage war on workers by scrapping all labour protections. (Photo by Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)

Cosatu claims a DA government would declare 'war on workers' and remove key labour rights but do these claims align with the DA's actual economic policies?

In a statement published in May, trade union federation Cosatu published a statement claiming that a Democratic Alliance (DA) government would declare “war on workers”.

But does this claim match what is in the DA’s actual economic policies?

The Cosatu statement claims that the DA’s proposals around labour laws would “collapse every single labour right and protection workers, and in particular women, have achieved since 1994”.

Let’s look at the specific claims.

Cosatu alleges that the DA says that under a DA government, employers would no longer have to pay a national minimum wage.

This is not true.

The DA’s economic policy document says that the party would “leave the minimum wage in place without increasing it further”. It does, however, propose introducing something called the Youth Employment Opportunity Certificate which would give people aged 18 to 35 who have been unemployed for over a year the option of opting out of the minimum wage.

Cosatu alleges that the DA would do away with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Fund, which is what pays out workers if they get injured or sick on the job.

There is no mention of this in the DA’s economic policy document or its election manifesto.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections hub

We asked the party’s deputy campaign manager Ashor Sarupen: he says the DA has always supported the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Cosatu alleges that the DA wants to scrap the Unemployment Insurance Fund which pays out workers when they lose their jobs or take maternity leave.

This is untrue.

The DA’s manifesto says it wants to ensure a more “reliable and secure” UIF system.

Cosatu alleges that the DA wants to do away with the Employment Equity Act, which requires employers to hire people of colour and women.

This is partially true.

The DA’s economic policy document says the party would remove racial quotas from employers and provide a broader range of ways employers could contribute towards social and economic transformation.

Cosatu alleges that the DA would allow companies to opt out of the Labour Relations Act, which is what permits workers to strike.

This is not strictly true, but the DA would enact some fairly significant changes in labour policy. The DA says it would allow small, medium and micro enterprises to opt out of bargaining council agreements which set labour conditions for a whole industry, for instance.

The DA would also tighten regulations around unions. For example, it proposes that unions should have to make a deposit to an independent body before embarking on strike action. Any damage caused by the strike would then have to be reimbursed out of the deposits.

In summary, Cosatu’s claims that the DA seeks to remove all labour protections from workers if elected are not accurate, although the party does seek to make certain changes to labour law in South Africa. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fact Check Hub


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