Professor Okharedia presented his research findings on the legal implications of the Implementation of International Labour Standard (ILO) and the harmonisation of Labour Laws in the SADC. The research focused on the employees’ freedom of association, collective bargaining, forced labour and discrimination.
“The findings of the research show that there is no uniformity in the implementation of ILO standards in the SADC region and, therefore, it is recommended that labour law should be harmonised in terms of ILO standards. Labour has become a key issue as the SADC moves towards the establishment of a common labour market.
The non-harmonisation of labour laws has affected migrant workers in terms of industrial relations practices. Currently, the plurality of labour laws in the Southern region has contributed greatly to unfair competition in the demand for labour.
In respect of the benefits to be derived from the harmonisation process, an empirical investigation was conducted in the region and the following is recommended: the harmonisation of labour law in the SADC region will help with the implementation of ILO standards, protection of workers against the economic power of employers in the workplace and maintaining similar benefits for migrants in the region,” he said.
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
Professor Okharedia further discussed the core of the differences in the implementation of the ILO labour standards in the region.
“South Africa is greatly influenced by union activities while Botswana and Namibia are not influenced by union activities. In Lesotho, the rules and procedures are not strictly followed, and public servants are prohibited from joining trade unions.
Swaziland rules and procedures are not strictly followed on freedom of association especially in the informal sector. In Zambia, the government placed many limits on freedom of association in practice and in Tanzania in the private sectors employers have adopted anti-union policies that hinder freedom of association.”
ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION
He further added that empirical investigation on the benefits of the Harmonisation of Labour Laws in the SADC Region. “In South Africa, the elimination of discrimination is pursued vigorously through the constitution of 1996, the LRA of 1995 and the Employment Equity Act of 1998. In Botswana discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS continues to be a problem in the workplace and the law prohibits homosexuality,” adds Professor Okharedia.
“Discrimination is still a common phenomenon in both civil society and workplace and women are still discriminated against in Lesotho and Zambia as well as the people living with disabilities and homosexuals are still discriminated against."
According to Professor Okharedia Swaziland is still discriminatory against people living with disability and non-ethnic Swazis such as white people and mixed race.
“While in Namibia people living with disabilities are still discriminated against by employers in both the public and private sectors. Other people who are still discriminated against in Namibia are the San tribe as well as women,” explained Professor Okharadia.
From the left: Director: Research Management, Professor Phindile Lukhele-Olorunju, Guest speaker, Professor Akhubue Okharedia, and
Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso.
He added that in South Africa and Botswana forced labour is strictly prohibited. “However, there are still few cases of forced labour in the rural traditional areas by local chiefs and traditional leaders in Lesotho, while in Swaziland there is still forced labour, especially with the enactment of the administrative order, which reinforced the tradition of residents working for chiefs without payment.”
Professor Okharadia further explained that in Namibia, farmworkers, including some children on commercial farms still experience forced labour, while in Zambia forced labour is still used. Tanzanian prisoners are still used for forced labour on a project outside the prisons and children are also used.
“The non-harmonisation of labour laws in the SADC region has affected migrant workers in terms of Industrial Relations practices. Currently, the plurality of labour laws in the SADC region has contributed greatly to unfair competition in the demand for labour.”
He suggested that the harmonisation of labour laws in the region will help to maintain similar benefits for the migrants’ labour, it will help with the implementation of ILO standards, will assist in the protection of workers against the greater economic power of employers in the workplace.
“This finding further reflects how current migrant workers, especially those from Zimbabwe, are suffering at the hands of unscrupulous employers in the region because of the current plurality of labour laws in the SADC region. The harmonisation of labour laws will minimise the exploitation and poor conditions of service offered to migrant workers.”
Professor Okharedia further said the research confirms the fact that the implementation of ILO standards will be made easier through the harmonisation of labour laws since the different countries in the SADC region implement the core areas of ILO labour standards differently.
“In conclusion, the harmonisation of labour laws in the SADC region will help in the protection of workers against the greater economic power of employers in the workplace.”
*Professor Akhubue Okharedia, a full Professor at UMP. His areas of specialization include: Law, Business Administration, Industrial Sociology and Development Economics.
@ Pictures by ChrisplPhoto.