CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION TRIPARTITE CONFERENCE ON SOUTHERN AFRICA HELD IN HARARE, ZIMBABWE, 5-8 MAY 1992

1. Good relations should prevail between all states in the sub-region, founded on the principle of mutual respect between sovereign states. The Conference calls on the South African
Government to refrain from any actions which harm stability in the Southern African sub-region.

2. In Southern Africa, priority should be given to supporting efforts aimed at balanced policies for economic and social growth, social justice, and basic human and trade union rights in all the countries, to the benefit of the whole region.

3. The Conference expresses the hope that – in the line with further positive developments in South Africa – the integration of South Africa in SADCC, PT A, and SALC will be favourably considered by governments of the countries in the sub-region, in co-operation with Employers’ and Workers’ organisations.

4. The Conference notes with appreciation the work of the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council and calls on governments of the sub-region to implement fully the social charter of workers1 rights adopted recently by the SALC in Lusaka, Zambia.

5. The following areas should be covered by the ILO programme of action in Southern Africa:

(1) Job creation; (ii) promotion of small business and co-operatives; (iii) vocational education, Training and retraining; (IV) improvement of labour laws and upgrading of labour standards; (v) promotion of equality of opportunity; (VI) improving working and living conditions and Organisation of rural workers; (vii) occupational health and safety; (viii) migration of labour.

6. The ILO should continue to support assistance to migrant workers in Southern Africa and Provide more resources to technical and vocational training and the creation of employment
Opportunities for returning migrant workers. Such programmes should be conducted in Conjunction with trade union organisations of the sub-region and particularly through the coordination and co-operation of the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council. The government in the sub-region should also give immediate priority to the initiation of specific programmes providing job opportunities for migrant workers and provide for regular Consultations and collaboration with workers’ and employers’ organisations in the formulation and implementation of policies affecting migrant workers.

7. The ILO should effectively assist the countries in the sub-region in setting up adequate Mechanisms for social and economic dialogue; for constructive industrial relations, and for
Tripartite consultation and co-operation. They are essential pillars in the building up of national infrastructure, which is indispensable for the preparation and implementation of economic and social programmes.

8. The ILO should play its full role with the international financial institutions as well as with the national governments in the sub-region, to make sure that the concerns of workers and
Employers are effectively taken into account and that their organisations arc involved when programmes and policies for structural adjustment arc planned and implemented.

9. The Conference urges governments employers’ and workers’ organisations and multinational and national enterprises operating in Southern Africa to observe the principles embodied in the
ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy. In this respect, particular attention is drawn to the provisions in the Declaration on employment,
Training, equality of opportunity and treatment, training, conditions of work and life, safety and health, freedom of association and the right to organise and collective bargaining. Recent Developments Concerning Apartheid in South Africa

10. The Conference considers that it is premature to repeal or revise the ILO Declaration Concerning Action against Apartheid in South Africa. It expresses the hope that future Developments in South Africa will, in due time, make the content of the Declaration obsolete.

11. Sanctions should be maintained on South Africa to speed up the process of change, in line With the decisions of the United Nations.

12. The ILO should continue to support the democratic trade unions’ struggle to extend basic Trade union rights to all workers in South Africa. Particular attention should be given to farm,
Domestic, public sector workers and those in Bantustans who continue to be denied basic trade Union rights.

13. The ILO should continue to support the efforts of the democratic trade unions to ensure that basic human and trade union rights such as the right of workers to belong to trade unions, trade
union independence from government, employers and political parties, the right to resort to strike action, freedom of association and expression, are entrenched in a new South Africa constitution
and should urge the government of South Africa and all political groups to respond positively to this demand.

14. The Conference strongly urges full implementation in South Africa of the principles laid down in the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111). The
removal of all discrimination and the promotion of equality are of particular interest to the further development of a non-racial South Africa.

15. The Conference notes with appreciation that the IOE, PEC and their members have undertaken the effort – in line with the conclusions of the 78th Session of the ILO annual
conference – to convene a meeting with the South African employers’ organisations, i.e. FABCOS, SACCOlA. At a meeting which took place in Harare in January 1992, FABCOS,
NAFCOC and SACCOlA “expressed their agreement on the principle of the creation of a unified and representative non-racial umbrella employers’ organisation in South Africa able to
represent and defend the common interests of its constituents while preserving their specificity and identity”. The Conference expresses the hope that the creation of such an organisation will
pave the way for the inclusion of South Africa employers into the ILO, once South Africa becomes a member State of the ILO.

16. The Conference stresses the importance of education and training so that the transition process can lead to improved working and living conditions, equality and social stability. In
particular, the black population should be able to occupy positions crucial to the building of non-racial democratic institutions throughout society. They must be equipped with the skills needed
for an expanding economy, which should include basic literacy education, technical and vocational training and retraining.

17. Employers and employers’ organisations are requested to provide adequate in-house training in order to up-grade the skills of workers.

18. The democratic trade unions have an important role to play in this area and have to be involved at the planning and implementation stages.

19. Assistance programmes on workers’ education should be expanded and adapted to the needs of the transition and post-apartheid period. Maximum support should be given to the non-racial
democratic trade union movement through ILO workers’ Education Activities. Assistance programmes should also be developed for non-racial, democratic employers’ organisations.

20. The Conference strongly urges that measures should be taken to ensure that domestic and farm workers and workers in the public sector are covered by labour legislation. This legislation
should be in accordance with the principles laid down in ILO instruments.

21. The Conference regrets that the National Manpower Commission is at present not able to function in a proper way.

22. The Conference recommends that the creation in South Africa of a tripartite economic and social body should be seriously and expeditiously considered.

23. The Conference recommends that in this tripartite body negotiations be held on an investment code for South Africa, which is part of an economic and social programme.

24. The Conference deplores the practice whereby the South African government recruits skilled and semi-skilled workers, particularly from Eastern Europe and Hong Kong, as well as the
preferential treatment and job opportunities given by employers to white immigrant workers even in circumstances where local workers are qualified and available or could be readily
trained; in addition, immigrant workers are paid more than local workers, the latter being subjected to strict tests when applying for jobs. The Conference recalls the conclusion adopted
in this regard by the International Labour Conference at its 78th Session (1991) (paragraph 64 i) of the report of the Conference Committee on Action Against Apartheid.

25. The Conference recommends that the 79th Session of the International Labour Conference (June 1992) take the following decision:

The ILO should – in line with other UN agencies – prepare projects for technical assistance to South African employers and workers organisations, on the understanding that these
organisations are non-racial, democratic and are willing to accept international labour standards. For this purpose the ILO should, in accordance with the usual procedure for consultation with
workers’ and employers’, respectively, meet with representatives of these organisations and consult with them on the nature content of proposed projects in South Africa. Such projects
could then be implemented after the creation of an interim government.
(Unofficial transcript, retyped by SARDC from conference notes, F. Ncube)


Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985.      Email sanf[at]sardc.net     

Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa     www.sardc.net  Knowledge for Development