Worker rights occupy centre stage at BRICS Meeting

Worker rights are the cornerstone of a fair, just and prosperous society as they ensure that employees have access to safe working conditions, a BRICS meeting was told in Muldersdrift, west of Johannesburg on Tuesday.


Ms Boitumelo Moloi, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour, was addressing the inaugural meeting organised by the Department under the theme “Ensuring decent work, dignity and respect for all”. The BRICS meeting is being attended by 5 member states namely; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa along with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), African Union as well as Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia and Malawi as invitees.


The meeting will look into issues of human dignity as the world tries to recover from COVID-19, energy crisis and stagflation.


The Deputy Minister told 140 delegates in attendance that worker rights are essential for individual workers as well as the health and stability of the broader economy.


“Therefore, worker rights, productivity and decent work are intrinsically linked- a happy worker is a productive worker”, she said. She urged BRICS countries to lead the way in promoting and protecting worker rights by implementing ILO conventions. So doing, she said, the members’ states should demonstrate their commitment to a fairer, more equitable society and create sustainable and inclusive growth conditions.


She further encouraged member states to optimise the relationship between productivity and decent work, promoting and protecting workers’ rights to improve poor working conditions, fair wages and protection against health and safety hazards.


In a message of support from the ILO, Ms Claire Harasty, said labour rights at work are indispensable in seeking to achieve equality and justice. “Sustainable enterprise promote good working conditions for employees, and my organisation is ready to accompany BRICS in achieving its goals”.


African Regional Labour and Administration Centre (ARLAC) representative Dr Locary Hlabanu said “decent work sums up the totality of the mandate of my organisation and by extension the ILO. There is need for governments and social partners to create an enabling environment for social protection”.


The Director General of the Department of Employment and Labour; Mr Thobile Lamati said the Muldersdrift session paves the way towards the upcoming technical meetings to be held in May, June and September this year. The final outcome of these processes will give birth to the declaration to be adopted by the Ministers and Heads of States.


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