Press Statement, 20 April 2021
NUM WOMEN STRUCTURE NATIONAL COMMITTEE MEETING PRESS STATEMENT
The National Union of Mineworkers National Women Structure convened its Women Structure National Committee Meeting from the 15th – 16th April 2021 at the NUM College Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Centre (EBMTC) in Midrand. The structure convened women from the 11 Regions celebrating and commemorating the great work done by one of the great heroines Mme Charlotte Maxeke under the theme “Women leading change in current political state”.
The meeting deliberated on key matters as follows:
Gender wage gap
The NUM National Women Structure is disappointed with continuing and increasing the gender wage gap and taking into consideration that trade union’s commitment is to close the pay gap between women and men performing the same work or a work of equal value. One important political achievement has to be the adoption of the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation, which was due to be transposed by 2011. We should also encourage social partners to shoulder their responsibility in terms of creating a more gender-equal wage structure; to provide training courses on negotiation skills, including wage negotiation by taking into account the effects of the economic downturn.
A strong and favourable regulatory framework on gender equality, requiring bargaining to tackle pay inequalities, is important as it stimulates a climate of equality awareness within the social dialogue, and it facilitates persuading reluctant employers to take gender equality issues seriously. However, legislation alone is not enough. A multi-faceted approach also enshrined in trade unions and collective bargaining is strongly needed.
Women and Collective Bargaining
Trade unions play a key role in eradicating deep-seated and structural gender inequalities, although in the context of the crisis this requires new thinking about how gender can be more effectively integrated into union strategies, policies and representation. Some unions have reviewed their strategies and put in place negotiating positions to increase pay in female-dominated sectors in an attempt to level out pay differences across sectors and/or to address how structural inequalities and women’s unpaid care roles can be factored into new bargaining strategies.
Collective bargaining is trade unions’ key instrument to fight discrimination against women, not least as regards access to employment, pay, working conditions, career advancement and vocational training. It can impact and shape job classification systems and performance-related wages, pay and grading systems as well as bonuses or benefits.
The following list of possible actions and strategic decisions to be taken should be perceived as a set of recommendations to the NUM to strengthen their efforts and capacities in reducing the gender pay gap mainly through collective bargaining but also political actions and commitments:
- The role of collective bargaining in reducing pay inequalities between women and men should be promoted at all levels (national, sectoral, local and company);
- Priority should be given to sectoral level bargaining and to avoid fragmentation of bargaining systems. Sectoral agreements have to show and provide an important framework for gender equality across a sector based on a common understanding;
- Gender mainstreaming tools and gender impact assessments to test whether bargaining is gender-neutral and whether the outcomes of agreements have unintended gender impacts should be developed;
- In integrating a gender perspective in all negotiations and collective agreements, consideration must:- be given to:
- occupational segregation and the undervaluing of women’s work;
- time is taken out of the workplace for parents taking family leave entitlements (maternity, paternity, parental, adoption, etc.) in the award of pay increases or pension entitlements;
- the rights of part-time workers and women working in precarious jobs;
- training and career development opportunities for women, particularly for part-time workers and workers with flexible working time arrangements;
- how women’s low pay can be addressed in female dominates sectors and through sector-specific minimum wages;
- how the situation of young women could be better addressed;
- gender-based violence, sexual and moral harassment in the workplace.
GBV & COVID-19
The impact of COVID-19 on women since the inception of national lockdowns has affected millions of vulnerable workers that are not only engaged in precarious work or survivalist activities in the informal and formal economy. Lockdowns have led to women being hit hard by both these global pandemics.
We strongly believe that GBV is the 1st pandemic then followed by Covid-19 as the second global pandemic with workers both men and women losing their incomes and livelihoods women find themselves being more exposed to GBV due to the reasons that their partners release their frustrations and anger on them when they are home with less to do, instead of facing the global challenges with new innovative ways of survival men resort to gender-based violence. We have witnessed the alarming high increase of GBV during the Covid-19 lockdown. Instead of women and children enjoying spending more quality time with their families they resort to exposing themselves to contracting the virus by going back to work as a way of running away from their partners.
We strongly believe that women and children globally do not enjoy the protection provided by labour legislation or the benefits of social security. The struggle for a universal social security net to protect the millions of workers who find their livelihoods threatened is one of the most urgent tasks of the class-oriented trade union.
In most countries, women make up the majority of the frontline workers in all sectors. Many of these women endure poor pay and poor working conditions and come back home to endless abuse. Equally, it is women who dominate in the informal & formal sectors and occupy the bottom place in production and thus endure the worst impact of the COVID-19 crisis without any social relieve, studies prove that the COVID-19 lockdowns have led to an increase in the cases of domestic violence and abuse against women.
The pandemic has not only increased the crisis of rising unemployment, growing inequality and poverty, and women, youth and immigrants are among the worst affected workers.
We call upon the government to increase the safety measures that are in place by changing how GBV and rape cases are being reported, handled and actioned in the police stations, that GBV and or rape reported cases are concluded in the same SAPS premises and not for the victim to be sent back and forth to hospital and police stations. We then resolve that One-stop service be provided at one servicing point being at a Police Station, hospital or clinic that a case be reported, opened and actioned, a specimen was taken, trauma counselling provided then the victim be taken to a place of safety if need be.
Blyvoor Workers Union
The National Women Structure is disgusted by the behaviour and attitude of Blyvoor management by forcing workers to join Blyvoor Workers Union that its objective will only be to continuously colonise and abuse the working class. We have passed through the years where our parents were dictated to by their employers. We are now living in a world where individuals have democratic rights to choose a union of choice. We want to send a strong message to Blyvoor management that they should refrain from such behaviour and let the workers join a union of their choice and we view this as a personal attack towards NUM.
Bullying in schools
The NUM National Women Structure is saddened by the ongoing bullying at schools that has recently led a 15-year old girl Lufuno Mavhunga taking her own life because she could not stand being bullied. As the structure we want to strongly condemn such behaviour and for firmer and yet supportive measures to be put in place in schools for easier identification and monitoring of bullying. We further extend to parents to also play a role to monitor their children’s behaviour and equally finding ways of monitoring their social media participation. As parents let us open and practice an open-door policy to our kids to try and curb these bullying tendencies and for our kids to be able to confide in us when troubled. Some behaviour of bullying is an underlying cry from kids that need attention from home and or crying out for help.
# Women Rights are Human Rights
Mathapelo Khanye, NUM National Women's Structure National Secretary, 064 051 3904/082 561 2010
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111