Home away from home, migrant workers have rights too!
DO we know our rights as migrants? Where do we go if we have bread and butter issues to discuss? Who is the voice of the migrant’s labour rights in South Africa? Can a migrant join a local Trade Union? Do local Trade Unions have the know-how, the capacity and enthusiasm to represent the locals? Who is a migrant? These are the issues that will be unpacked in the long run, but for starters, we need to get a few things straight.
There is a lack of class consciousness within the migrant community and this need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The migrant community in South Africa has been fragmented and everyone has been speaking in small pockets hence their song for equality and protection of the rights for migrants has been in discord.
The plight of the migrant worker is one that never ends. There are many migrant workers who have been suffering the brunt of heartless employers in South Africa and the world at large.
But fear and desperate circumstances have led to the vulnerable migrants living as second class working citizens even where there is enough protection
A migrant worker is granted protection in South Africa. The laws in South Africa do not discriminate on workers based on nationality. The law only talks about the worker and it doesn’t speak about a migrant worker. This means that everyone who works in South Africa is equally protected by the law irrespective of the fact that they are a migrant or not.
The South African Constitution, the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act make reference to workers and they do not speak of migrant workers or local workers. There is legal protection to all the workers in South Africa.
The migrant worker is defined as a worker and enjoys the same rights as a local worker in South Africa. All things fair and square, this entails that the local and migrant workers ought to have the same working conditions, same pay and benefits as long as they are here.
Such however doesn’t happen in most cases. The migrant worker finds herself working longer hours and getting less pay than the locals. The skilled and unskilled migrants, the documented and undocumented migrants all have their fair share of work place troubles. Could this be rectified? Indeed. Such issues will be unpacked in the follow up articles.
There is a general misconception that a illegal immigrant does not have rights at the work place. A number of undocumented employees have been hired and fired without proper procedure.
Day in day out the illegal immigrants are threatened with deportations and arrests once they question the administration of justice by the employer. Employers have been physically, emotionally and sexually abusing the migrant workers and using threats to get away with murder figuratively and in reality. This has to come to a stop, and that is why MIWUSA Trade Union was solely formed.
Do we know our rights as migrants? Do we know where to seek protection when and if our rights are abused? Do we have a voice for the migrant worker? Can I join a union as a migrant worker?
These and other issues in the work place can be addressed by joining MIWUSA Trade Union. MIWUSA is a Migrant Workers Union of South Africa and it is there to represent the migrants who are working in South Africa in their bread and butter issues. The Trade Union is for all migrant nationalities all over the world. Let us know our rights and be protected.
MIWUSA is there to fight for equal opportunities for all. There is always victory in numbers and join the union. An injury to one worker is an injury to all.
So if you are a migrant worker and want HELP, more information about MIWUSA and your rights as a migrant worker, comments, queries opinions in the discussion box herein-under. Or call 27 (0)84 566 2756 or 27 (0)81 518 5880 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org,
Twitter @mantronieqscie or LIKE Tapiwa Diamond Chadya on Facebook.
Diamond Tapiwa is a Legal Specialist at MIWUSA and legal practitioner.
DISCLAIMER: He writes in his own personal capacity and ZimsInSA.com is not liable for the contents in this article.