Cape Town - Parliament paid tribute to workers on Monday for the gallant struggles they had waged against oppressive labour laws under colonial and apartheid systems of government.
Spokesperson Moloto Mothapo, said: “On this International Workers' Day, Parliament's presiding officers join millions of workers around the world in celebrating the victories gained in the fight for better working conditions.”
Mothapo said National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Ngqakula and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo acknowledged that workers were the backbone of the economy.
He said Parliament had over the years consolidated the rights of workers through a wide range of labour-related laws which promoted, strengthened, and protected workers' rights. These include the National Minimum Wage Bill, the Labour Laws Amendment Bill, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.
Mothapo said the legislations had contributed to building a socially just labour system.
“These laws have ensured acceptable daily wage rates, the extension of bargaining agreements to non-parties, and overall improvements in workers' conditions in South Africa.
“Parliament recognizes that much more needs to be done to address existing disparities and respond positively to calls for "equal pay for equal work" across all sectors.”
Mothapo said Parliament continued to sharpen policy and law-making mechanisms to improve the living and working conditions of the working class.
He noted that the agriculture, land reform and rural development portfolio committee as well as employment and labour portfolio committee assessed the implementation and impact of relevant pieces of legislation and the work done by various state agencies, government departments, and social partners in the farming sector.
“Oversight visits have revealed that despite numerous legislative policy formulations and interventions, workers and farm dwellers continue to face challenges such as tenure insecurity, threatened livelihoods, and violations of their human and labour rights.”
Mothapo said Parliament acknowledged the collaborative work within the farming sector that involved various social partners, farm owners, farmworkers, and farm dwellers in seeking solutions to the challenges faced by farming communities.
He said both portfolio committees will work jointly to conduct comprehensive oversight work on the living and working conditions of farmworkers, monitor progress made by the government's commitments towards improved living and working conditions in these communities, and assess the impact of legislation affecting farmworkers.
Mothapo said Parliament remained committed to building a truly democratic and prosperous society where workers and all individuals enjoyed a better quality of life.
“As part of this commitment, Parliament will continue to strengthen and protect workers' rights, fight against inequality, poverty, and unemployment, and promote legislative improvements across all sectors.”
However, despite progress in protecting workers' rights and improving working conditions, South Africa's unemployment rate remained high, particularly among the youth.
“It is crucial that as many South Africans as possible are included in the labour market through efforts to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and invest in education and training.
“Parliament acknowledges the urgency of addressing unemployment and is committed to strengthening oversight over programmes and strategies for sustainable employment opportunities.”