FORUM CONTRIBUTION: The plight of domestic workers: The elusiveness of access to adequate housing
South Africa’s transformative Constitution calls for a holistic approach to realising the right to human dignity. To marginalised groups, such as domestic workers, this right is not confined to achieving better wages and working conditions; it touches every aspect of their lives. Central to this endeavour is the quest for adequate housing. This article discusses the experience of a housing cooperative consisting predominantly of domestic workers in campaigning for adequate housing, especially at local government level, as part of the struggle to achieve a secure and dignified existence. While identifying formidable obstacles, it also shows the interconnectedness of the various challenges and the need for a integrated approach in addressing them.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Commentary on communications decided by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2004
Waruguru Kaguongo reports on issues arising from decisions handed down by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2004. A total of 12 communications were considered in that year, with seven communications being decided on the merits. .The article is divided into two main sections: issues implicit in the determination of admissibility, and those arising from consideration of the merits. On admissibility, the most often considered criterion was the requirement to exhaust local remedies. In determining compliance with this criterion, it is argued, the Commission displayed consistency with its previous jurisprudence. The exhaustion of local remedies, however, tended to take precedence over the other criteria and, it is suggested, the Commission failed to take the opportunity to further elaborate on the application of other criteria. In the relation to the merits, the author argues that the communications raised issue relating to evidence and the lack of consistency in how it affects decisions; the limitation of rights; the role of the Commission versus national jurisdictions; fair trial guarantees; interpretation of international treaties and the administrative capacity of the Commission and its effect on decisionsDownload full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: A summary of some cases on HIV/AIDS
Sam Rugege provides concise commentary on two important recent judgments involving discrimination on the basis of H!V/AIDS. The first is a decision by the South African Constitutional Court in Hoffmann v South AJrican Airways  I I BCLR 121 1 (CC) based on the constitutional equality clause.This case raised important issues relating to the extent to which employers can justify discrimination on the basis of the requirements of a job or the perceived prejudices of the public. In addition. novel questions arose in relation to the appropriate remedy for unfair discrimination in cases where an employer has refused to employ applicants on the basis of their HIV status. The second case is a decision of the Namibian Labour Court in N v Minister of DeJence (2000) 21 ILJ 999 (NmLC). The applicant in this case was refused employment in the Defence Force because he tested HIV positive. The court found that this constituted unfair discrimination as envisaged by the Namibian Labour Act of 1992 and ordered the applicantÆs enlistment subject to a medical test.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Be careful what you wish for…?
Roger Ronnie draws a balance sheet of the position of the trade union movement today. While analysing trade unions as organisations dealing with more than simply wages and employment conditions, the author also considers their political limitations and assesses the gains and losses flowing from the 1995 LRA from a trade union perspective.In particular, the advent and growing entrenchment of “trade union legalism” within South Africa’s capitalist system is highlighted. The article concludes by making recommendations on how trade unions can try to avoid these pitfalls and promote the rights of workers more effectively.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: African case law review
Sam Rugege's report on recent cases of interest to the African continent focuses on one of the recent Zimbabwean land invasion cases, highlighting the tension between a court system seeking to maintain the rule of law and an executive resistant to it. It also discusses a case relating to the customary law of succession in South Africa.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: The growing informalisation of work: Challenges for labour
Rudi Dicks discusses the South African phenomenon of “informalisation” of the workforce, which is characterised by workers shifting from permanent employment to casualised and fixed-term contracts, outsourcing and employment through labour brokers.These forms of employment are accompanied by, lack of job security, undermining of basic conditions of employment, erosion of workplace rights and decreasing access to skills and equity at work. The author considers the effects of the process and concludes by suggesting measures to provide legislative protection to vulnerable workers, including the establishment of a tripartite statutory body to regulate labour brokers; the development of a code of good practice for workers engaged in atypical employment contracts and improving monitoring and enforcement mechanisms through tougher penalties.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Dismissals for operational requirements
Tapiwa Gandidze discusses dismissals for operational requirements in terms of the LRA with reference to the code of good practice on dismissals for operational requirements.The author also analyses the 2002 amendments to the LRA which allow workers either to strike about the reason for dismissals or refer such a dispute to the Labour Court. The author concludes by providing a detailed discussion of the legal requirements that employers need to comply with in order to ensure that dismissal is procedurally and substantively fair.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: The need for a human rights culture
In celebration of Human Rights Day, Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel delivered the 4th Dullah Omar Memorial Lecture on 20 March 2007. The lecture examines the notions of “continuity” and “change” in the human rights context in South Africa’s recent history.Dealing with specific challenges against the backdrop of our Constitution, he criticises problems such as corruption and concludes that more must be done to address them. Minister Manuel also discusses the importance of a culture of human rights as well as the challenges faced by South Africa in its struggle to build such a culture, and advances recommendations on how to achieve these objectives.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: The principle of legality in constitutional matters with reference to Masiya v Director of Public Prosecutions and Others 2007 (5) SA 30 (CC)
This article, co-authored by LLB student Lesega Mnguni and Justin Muller as part of our ALAD programme (see Who We Are) deals with the principle of legality as enunciated in Masiya v Director of Public Prosecutions and Others 2007 (5) SA 30 (CC). In this matter an accused person was charged with rape after committing a grossly indecent sexual assault on a nine-year-old girl.Although the act in question did not fall within the common law definition of rape, the Regional Court felt justified in developing the common law definition in terms of section 39 of the Constitution to include the act in question and duly convicted the accused. The High Court upheld this decision. The article examines the reasoning of the Constitutional Court in determining the meaning of the principle of legality and applying the right to non-retrospective punishment, as entrenched in section 35(3)(l) and (n) of the Constitution, under extremely sensitive and challenging circumstances.Download full text.
FORUM CONTRIBUTION: Ten years of the CCMA – An assessment for labour
Ronald Bernikow examines certain key areas of the CCMA’s operations and the challenges it faces within the broader context of our labour laws. The article deals with the current state of CCMA service delivery as well as the debate over what has been termed the “over-proceduralisation” of dispute resolution at the CCMA.It discusses areas where the CCMA can, from the perspective of labour, be said to be performing well, as well as pointing to various shortcomings or gaps in the statutory dispute resolution framework. It concludes that the CCMA is a legitimate and important institution that has promoted a common industrial citizenship and provided a platform for confronting future challenges.Download full text.