Reports indicate that 18 out of 20 Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU’s) affiliates have not submitted their audited financial statements and membership numbers to the Registrar of Labour. This is in violation of sections 98, 99 and 100 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA). The minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, must demonstrate the political will to maintain accountable governance by labour unions by either insisting that unions comply with the law or deregistering them to protect the 1.7 million workers belonging to non-compliant unions.
The LRA requires unions to submit their audited financial statements, membership figures and a list of office bearers to the Registrar of Labour. The majority of COSATU affiliates (90%) have reportedly not complied this year. A number of them have not complied since 2009 and the SA Medical Association has not complied in any shape or form since 2002. Only two unions have been de-registered.
The regulations are in place for good reason. Audited financial statements ensure that unions and the department can keep track of fixed assets, membership fees and expenditure. Without the checks and balances outlined in the LRA, unions will have carte blanche with regard to the management of income generated by membership fees. The result is that 1.7 million South African workers could be paying substantial membership fees in exchange for nothing but misrepresentation and empty promises.
The minister must demonstrate the political will to apply the law consistently to all illegal unions. It is simply unacceptable that unions, which are meant to represent the interests of South African workers, should be allowed to disregard labour regulations.
I will be writing a letter to the minster in this regard.