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Why creating human rights rules in the workplace is important, but sensitive

Human rights violations in the workplace have become a growing issue over the past year, according to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

(Also read our article: Mining silicosis - How SA's medical compensation system is failing mineworkers)

The SAHRC is concerned about the increase in complaints it has received and wants to engage with the private sector around what their obligations are towards employees.

In the second quarter of 2015, the SAHRC received the following complaints, some concerning more than one category:

  • 20% related to equality issues.

  • 11% under the freedom of expression category.

  • 10% for socio-economic rights.

  • 8% for housing issues.

  • 7% related to administrative action.

Danny Bradlow, Professor at the University of Pretoria’s Economic and Management Sciences faculty, says South Africa must tread carefully when drawing up human rights rules for businesses in the country.

According to Bradlow, worker's rights need to be balanced with community needs, consumer demands and other environmental factors such as legal, economic and political activities.

Bradlow says that those who want to merge human rights practices into business must first develop their knowledge of how to incorporate human rights considerations into their planning and operations.

There is definitely a place for human rights in the workplace and other aspects of business activities. But what is important is how we managed and handle those rights and regulations.

Danny Bradlow, University of Pretoria’s Economic and Management Sciences professor

Bradlow says labour-intensive industries, such as mining and construction, need to redress human rights violations from the past and further provide preventative solutions to uphold human rights in the future.

He believes the country may not be prepared for a business and human rights treaty and the efforts to create one are misdirected.

Listen to the full conversation from The Redi Tlhabi Show:


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