In Major Breakthrough, Domestic Workers Win Coverage For Injuries On Duty

Close to a million domestic workers in South Africa will be able to claim for injuries sustained on duty after passage of a bill supported by the nation’s major labor unions.

Under the bill, approved by the South African Cabinet, employers would be held liable for any negligence.

According to domestic services union Western Cape organizer Gloria Kente, action on the bill had been pending since 1993 so this recent vote to send the bill to parliament was a major breakthrough.

Kente, a former victim of abuse who was spat on and called the k-word by her former employer’s boyfriend, said many domestic workers had been abused by employers.

“There are about 800,000 domestic workers in South Africa. They are among the most exploited and abused workers. To date, they have not been allowed to claim for injuries on duty,” said Matthew Parks, parliamentary coordinator of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, or Cosatu.

Cosatu and the South African Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union welcomed Cabinet’s approval of the bill but insisted it should be introduced in parliament within 30 days.

“Despite repeated commitments to do so, government has still not introduced the bill in parliament,” complained Parks. “This has resulted in thousands of injured domestic workers being left unprotected and uninsured.”

Parks said that matter was won at the Supreme Court last year and was now before the Constitutional Court.

Meanwhile, in a show of militancy by a key ANC ally, Cosatu pledged to defy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ban on mass gatherings of more than 100 people in order to support a planned national strike by its public sector affiliate over cuts to the public sector wage bill, described as an “attack on collective bargaining” and “worse than apartheid.”

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said the federation will support the government and public entities union should they walk off their jobs and take to the street on March 30.

SOURCE: Global Information Network

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