Striking Pikitup staff members affiliated to Samwu march through the streets of Joburg demanding salary increases. File picture: Independent Media

Johannesburg - Labour unions have come out hard against suggestions by the labour minister that they could soon be forced to ballot for strikes or face de-registration.

This week the Minister said the law had been agreed upon at Nedlac, a fact unions have disputed vigorously, saying no such agreement was ever reached at the council.

Cosatu and the Plus Nine unions said such a law would impede on workers’ rights and accused her of lying by saying there had been an agreement on the law at Nedlac.

The organisations vowed to fight the law which they said would interfere with how unions conducted their internal business.

“The intransigent approach and the unilateralism from the minister will be met with stiff resistance from the workers. Workers will not allow this anti-worker and anti-union bashing to go unchallenged. The minister should stop trying to start a battle she will not win , there will be no strike balloting imposed unions and that will not change,” said Cosatu spokesman, Sizwe Pamla in a statement.

The Plus Nine unions warned that such a law if ever imposed would give power to employers who would find it easier to declare strikes which are a bargaining power of workers illegal.

“No union wants strikes, which they always strive to avoid by settling disputes through negotiation. Workers only vote to strike as a last resort, when employers’ intransigence leaves them with no alternative. But bosses will be even more intransigent if they know they can go to court to get strikes declared illegal because the unions did not ballot according to government rules,” said Zwelinzima Vavi on behalf of the Plus Nine unions in a statement.

The group if unions has also once more demanded that government take legals steps be taken ensuring that disputed provisions of the now postponed tax laws amendment act never sees the light of day.

This week government postponed the implementation of the law by two years, a move cautiously welcomed by unions which said they’d only be satisfied if the law was scrapped.

Unions are disputing provision in the law which compels workers to annuitise two-thirds of their retirement savings upon retirement, with an allowance to withdraw only one-third.

“We demand that immediate legal steps are taken to ensure that the disputed provisions will not be allowed to come into force either on 1 March 2016 or any other date. The entire act must be repealed,” said Vavi.

Labour Bureau