The protest marches planned for this week by Zwelihle Renewal (ZR) were postponed late on Monday evening after intense negotiations during the weekend and Monday evening.
The decision by ZR to postpone the march was taken after a Hermanus Stakeholders Group meeting earlier in the evening. The stakeholders’ meeting was also attended by representatives of the provincial departments of Labour and Home Affairs.
Members of Zwelihle Renewal were set to march to various businesses in town to hand over memoranda addressing the issue of more foreign nationals reportedly being employed than South Africans.
At the stakeholders’ meeting, it was decided that a task team would be set up to facilitate compliance with the labour laws in the Overstrand. This task team would be required to report back to the Stakeholder’s Group within the next month.
A representative from the Department of Labour said that the official legislative guideline provides for a ratio of 60% locals to 40% foreigners. “No company may employ more than 40% foreign employees and those who do so are breaking the law and will be arrested alongside the worker,” he said.
It was stated that the onus rests on the employer to ensure that the guidelines are followed and that the working permits of all employed foreign nationals are in order. Asylum seekers, on the other hand, do not need work permits as they are allowed to work in the country and have the same access to government services as locals.
According to the Department of Home Affairs, there are regular inspections at businesses in the Overstrand and a total of nine businesses in the area have been charged since March 2019 for not complying with the law.
In anticipation of the marches that were set to take place from Tuesday to Friday, the Whale Coast Business and Community Forum (WCBCF) on Monday applied to the Cape High Court for an interdict to stop protesters from visiting their premises. The interdict was granted by Judge Monde Samela and stipulated that no protester would be allowed to come closer than 50 metres to the premises of any of the 18 applicants.
According to the WCBCF, they will do everything within the confines of the law to protect their businesses, staff and reputations. “The threats of mass protest action from a self-appointed group in town against legitimate businesses will not be taken lightly. This group’s assumption that labour issues, unfair business practices and other related matters are in existence here is based on false information,” WCBCF said in a statement.
The Hermanus Business Chamber said it welcomed the postponement of the protest marches and is committed to working with the authorities and stakeholders on the newly formed task team to facilitate an appropriate outcome that will be conducive to the protection of existing employment opportunities and the creation of new ones.