South African farm workers in the Cape region had raised, Wednesday, January 9, a strike began in November for an increase in their daily wage of 70 to 150 rand (6 euros to 13 euros). South African police fired rubber bullets at the protesters, who were between 3000 and 3500 in the morning. These incidents Best Meat Grinder occurred when demonstrators wanted to take a barrage of police blocked access to the city center of Cape Town. South Africa looks with concern the industrial dispute, reminiscent in some ways the wildcat miners in august and September. These strikes had resulted in some sixty people, including 34 strikers killed by the police in Marikana.
Piers Pigou, director of South Africa Project at the International Crisis Group in Johannesburg, talks about the issues of the right to strike in South Africa and the response by the police strikes of agricultural workers and miners.
What is the law on the right to strike in South Africa? The strike of agricultural workers was illegal?
Labor legislation and the South African Constitution recognizes the right to strike. However, there are procedures to follow to legally use this right. Farm workers are not, in their vast majority union. They would be only 10% to be. It is therefore difficult for them to comply with these procedures, which require initially that negotiations take place with the bosses. It was only after the recognized failure of this attempt conflict resolution a vote can take place in the representative trade union and be accepted by a majority of the representatives. Thus, in case of destruction of property, the union is held responsible.
Here, the trade union confederation of the South (Cosatu) Africa plays an r? The representative but she said not to be able to do much, most farm workers are not members. This strike is not illegal but there were actions that were as intimidation, damage to property, …
The issue of union representation was also raised in the case of the miners’ strike, but in other words. Some of the minors had disconnected unions affiliated to Cosatu to reach new and more radical groups in their language. These formations have accused the miners’ unions have made too many compromises with the bosses.
Does not react the riot police fa? Disproportionately on these strikes?
The history of South Africa is marked by the violence with which police forces and institutions respond to social, economic and political turmoil. It must still say that in many situations, the police faced violent and lethal on the part of strikers and protesters actions. But history is full of cases where police responded fa? We disproportionate. That was clearly the case last year at the Marikana miners’ strike which resulted in deaths.
The police are not properly trained to handle this kind of social events. There are too many examples where police used lethal force when alternative means are possible.
What measures have been taken as a result of police violence at Marikana?
A criminal investigation was opened parallel to the judicial commission of inquiry Farlam. I do not think anyone will be surprised if nothing comes out of these lawsuits. In South Africa, every year, the police responsible for the death of thousands of people in detention following police actions. Police commonly use lethal means but the responsibility is almost never challenged. South Africa has a marked police repression history, dating back to apartheid. This will not change after Marikana. We can already see the police argued before the commission of inquiry they did so because they were threatened. Yes, there was a threat, but the question remains whether, despite this, the police response was appropriate.
The problem of the irresponsibility of the police to justice is an important challenge to develop a professional police force. A long way to go.