In response to the statement referred to in Cosatu: Misconstruing collective bargaining the Free Market Foundation (FMF) has issued the following statement which includes responses from Herman Mashaba himself.

The Free Market Foundation is dismayed and alarmed by the statement issued by the Cosatu Free State Provincial Executive Committee on 17 June 2015, as below. 

That such intimidating and threatening remarks should come from a senior member of the governing alliance is disturbing and menacing.  Such comment has no place in a free democracy where citizens are entitled to challenge laws under the Constitution and is an ominous sign of the unholy alliance between the unions and big business.  Cosatu continues to show callous contempt for the rule of law and the plight of millions of unemployed South Africans thrown aside by this unconstitutional piece of legislation.

The FMF understand that this refers to its High Court challenge to S 32 of the Labour Relations Act launched in April 2013.   Subject to limited criteria, S 32 compels the Minister of Labour to extend Bargaining Council agreements to all parties, including those who have not been at the negotiating table, without applying her mind to the greater social-economic landscape in struggling South Africa. 

These automatic extensions have a devastating impact on smaller businesses: thousands of jobs are lost and new opportunities are not created.

The FMF seeks to change one word in the Act, from “must” to “may” to allow the Minister scope to reflect on what is best for the 8.3 million unemployed, mainly black, poor and young people. 

Entrepreneur and founder of ‘Black Like Me’ Herman Mashaba, who is personally leading the legal action on behalf of the FMF, said:

“Cosatu is calling for a possible boycott of Black Like Me products because I am the face of this challenge.  I am deeply concerned about the rule of law.   Do they really think that bullying tactics like these will help steer our failing economy onto the right track?  Will this protect the rights of small businesses facing ruin by this Act?  Will it help the 8.3 million unemployed get employment?  Perhaps these Cosatu officials are not aware that we live in a constitutional democracy.   Such threats can only reinforce our determination to ask our judiciary to speed up bringing this matter to an open court of law.   If Cosatu believes they have a case and are acting in the interest of South Africa, I challenge them to speed up the process to get this case to our courts”.

Since bringing the challenge, the FMF has faced intimidation and threats from unions and delaying tactics from key respondents including the Department of Labour.   Yet, in an effort to expedite a hearing, we have agreed to allow interventions from Cosatu, NUMSA and SACTWU despite none being named as respondents.

Mr Mashaba said:

“It is beyond belief that Cosatu, as part of government, should want laws that cause so much unemployment.   Together with the Department of Labour, they should be backing our challenge to arrest this spiral of high unemployment in the country.  With 8 million more people in the labour force, Cosatu could double its membership and increase their influence and relevance”