submission with LHROn 27 May 2022 SERI and LHR made a submission to the national Department of Employment and Labour on the draft National Labour Migration Policy and the Employment Services Amendment Bill that was released for public comment on 28 February 2022. 

Although SERI and LHR acknowledge that there is some merit to bringing clarity to issues in the formal employment relationship, and although we agree with government on the need to address the high rate of unemployment in the country, our critique of the policy and Bill relates largely to the following, which we set out in greater detail in the submission:

  • The contemplated restrictions to the right to work go against South Africa’s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) that protects the right to work regardless of nationality, legal status and documentation. The proposed measures are also inconsistent with various rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. 
  • The policy and Bill aim to regulate a broad spectrum of sectors and skills-levels (from critical skills to low-skilled work) under the same umbrella legislation, therefore not considering sector-specific challenges and nuances, as well as potentially varied outcomes.
  • The policy and Bill are premised on a false assumption that the solution to the high unemployment facing the country lies in the restriction of migrant work and the reservation of opportunities for South African workers. This assumption has been repeatedly debunked through research and is also not supported in consultations that SERI and LHR have done with client groups in preparing this submission. It is a proposal that misses the complexity of the problem as well as its structural underpinnings. 
  • Pitting local workers against migrant workers, whether in public discourse or proposed legislation, has the potential to further fuel xenophobic tensions. This does not imply a lack of sympathy for South Africans who are struggling under the weight of unemployment, but this narrative shifts the full blame for unemployment onto migrants, while the reality is more complex and structural. 

This submission is informed by consultations with partners and clients from three sectors or interest groups: domestic workers, farm workers, and refugees and asylum seekers. As set out in the submission, in all three groups we found large-scale opposition to restrictions placed on the right to work of foreign nationals. 

SERI and LHR therefore argue for a substantial reconceptualisation of the NLMP and Bill in relation to how its provisions affect the right to work of migrants, particularly in low-skilled work. 

The submission is endorsed by ten organisations and networks. 

  • Download the full submission here

Petronella PresserIn the early hours of Wednesday, 25 May 2022, Petronella Baloyi, a community leader, was shot and killed in her home at the Rugby Club informal settlement located in Florida, in the Westrand region of Gauteng. According to reports, Baloyi was at home with her husband and extended family when (an) armed person(s) made their way into the property, fired shots, and fled. Petronella and her husband were fatally wounded and succumbed to their injuries in the early hours of Wednesday, 25 May 2022. It is reported that two further fatalities were sustained among her extended family. Petronella leaves behind her two children and extended family.

Baloyi was a community leader for the former residents of the Marie Louise Squatter Camp (“Marie Louise”) who secured judgment by consent for their relocation to the area known as “Rugby Club” following their eviction from Marie Louise. Baloyi was an integral part of the concerted efforts to ensure the effective resettlement of the residents after their relocation in 2015. Recently, Baloyi had taken on administrative and community mobilisation duties as a member of the Marie Louise Residents Committee to give effect to its desire for effective integration into the Rugby Club Community as well as the upgrading of the informal settlement into organised permanent housing for residents.

SERI is devastated to learn of her passing and conveys its sincere condolences to Petronella Baloyi’s family, friends, and loved ones. SERI strongly condemns the heinous killing of the community mobiliser, and others like her, who strive to realise the vision of decent housing and access to municipal services for all. SERI urgently calls for justice to run its course through the intervention of the South African Police Services and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Petronella Baloyi is remembered as a determined, outspoken, and committed community leader for the Rugby Club community. She has played an invaluable role in ensuring the community has an active voice in the participative processes leading up to their relocation, integration as well as the upgrading of the informal settlement by the City of Johannesburg.

Contact details:

  • Khululiwe Bhengu, SERI Attorney: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ 079 816 8076.
  • Muano Nemavhidi, SERI Candidate Attorney: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ 079 988 5046.

Download the full press statement here.

Rental Housing Submission 2022Last week, SERI made a submission to the Department of Human Settlements on the Rental Housing Tribunal Regulations, 2021. Prior to this submission, SERI engaged with the previous version of the Rental Housing Tribunal Regulations and made a submission in May 2021. SERI stands by its original submission and wish to supplement it with additional emphases on some key aspects in this submission. SERI acknowledges that several of its previous suggestions appear to have been taken into consideration and relevant changes are reflected in the current version of the Regulations.

SERI welcomes the Regulations and seek to make submissions on six components we believe will be important in fulfilling the ambitions of the Regulations and the Rental Housing Act to promote a stable and growing market that progressively meets the latent demand for affordable rental housing among previously disadvantaged, poor and low-income persons.  These are: 

  • Affordable rental; 
  • Remission or abatement of rent;
  • Legal aid representation for tenants; 
  • Defined terms; 
  • Formalistic and inaccessible Regulations;
  • Comments on lease agreements;
  • Comments on norms and standards.

The submission provides specific recommendations for each concern. 

  • Read SERI’s 2022 submission here
  • Read SERI’s 2021 submission here

Fin24 Tekie Khunou 10MayOn 10 May 2022, Fin24 published and opinion editorial written by Izwi's Amy Tekie and SERI researcher Kelebogile Khunou entitled, 'Labour law for domestic workers explained'. The op-ed explains the recent changes in labour laws affecting domestic workers. As of 1 March 2022, employers of domestic workers are required to pay their employees a minimum wage of R23.19 per hour, as announced by Minister for Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi. 

Tekie and Khunou write that: "This translates to approximately R4 019.57 per month for a 40-hour work-week and R4 522.02 for 45 hours per week. Overtime must be paid for any hours worked beyond 45 hours, and should be paid at 1.5 times the employee’s normal wage. Overtime pay for domestic workers is R34.79 per hour at minimum."

They add, however, that "For sole income providers, the national minimum wage is usually not sufficient to meet a family’s basic needs. According to Statistics South Africa, the food poverty line, also known as the "extreme" poverty line, is R624 per person per month. A domestic worker earning the minimum wage, just over R4 000 per month, supporting a family of four, would have to spend more than 50% of her salary on meeting the family’s basic needs; less than R2 500 would have to cover non-food household costs like rent, water, electricity, transport, education and others. In situations like these, food needs often must be sacrificed in order to meet other requirements, which are still not adequately met."

Read the full op-ed here.

 

Newsletter May2022

 

This is SERI’s first newsletter for 2022. In it we present a few highlights from our work since our last newsletter in December 2021. In this period, we launched our first report in the Evictions Research Series and produced a new series of factsheets for employers of domestic workers. We successfully appealed Rhodes University’s conviction and sanction of permanent exclusion against Ms Dyantyi and attained two orders affirming the right to protest. We also advanced our advocacy work in this period, including two respective popular education workshops on evictions and claiming for workplace injury compensation. 

 

Access the full newsletter here

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