This is a collection of my press releases and where the media has reported on my involvement in Parliament or in my constituency - Sandton.  Click on the article title if you would like to post a comment.

Trash 'n pay - new bill will put squeeze on unions

November 28, 2011

There’s nothing the DA likes better than to find one of its own proposals being debated seriously by government and the ANC. And yes, it’s finally happened. DA MP Ian Ollis (full disclosure: Ollis is an occasional columnist for the Daily Maverick) was cock a hoop on Wednesday. He says that Nedlac (that forum where business, government and labour get together to thrash out complex issues… usually without the prying guise of the media. Probably the reason why it gets some stuff done!) is now considering a proposal that he’s submitted as a Private Members Bill. It would see unions being held legally liable for goods damaged by their members during a strike. Ollis says this submission now has the backing of the Labour department. The department refused to comment, no doubt for very sound political reasons.

This is a bill that has Cosatu apoplectic. Its argument has always been that this would be a restriction on the right of a union to strike. And the fact that it is even being considered is a massive step back for the federation.

Then we have a judgment, handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal at the end of September. It relates to a violent protest held by our good friends Satawu (the transport and allied workers union. They were famous a while ago for the number of people its members allegedly threw out of trains during a big strike in 2006) in Cape Town in 2006. During the protest, union members ran amok. At issue was who should pay for the damage caused. There were several applicants, including the City of Cape Town, several hawkers whose goods were stolen and damaged, and a couple of motorists whose cars were attacked. The Western Cape High Court ruled in favour of the applicants and against the union (do you wanna know who the judge was…in the Western Cape, big political case, ruled in a case that matters to the DA? It was Judge John Hlophe. Really.) The case is going to Constitution Hill.

The union movement has argued that to make unions liable for damage caused during a strike or a protest amounts to a denial of the right to free assembly. The court has really ruled that it is not a denial of the right to assembly, but a limitation of it. There is a big difference here. All rights are balanced, and thus are limited. But they cannot be denied. You don’t have the right to say anything you like, there is a hate speech limitation. The same principle is involved here, and this must be one of the more important limitations on the right to assembly that has been established since 1994. As the court puts it, “In the past the majority of the population was subjected to the tyranny of the state. We cannot now be subjected to the tyranny of the mob.”

The key element of whether unions can in the end be held responsible for damage caused by strikes or protests is the element of foreseeability. If the damage or violence can be foreseen, then the union can be held responsible. This is a key legal point, and a key political point. It will be easy for the DA to say you can foresee the damage, thus the protest cannot happen. But it will also be politically palatable for the ANC to say in public that it’s acting against violent protests, because of concerns for the safety of citizens. Certainly the hawkers who lost money as a result of the Satawu protest will back them. And of course, anyone with any experience of our strikes will be able to foresee the violence and damage that planned action will cause.

So the question now is how will the unions respond. Cosatu has the usual two avenues, the political road and the legal road. In court, it seems it will have to argue hard around this. No right is supposed to be absolute; surely the right to assemble and the right to strike can be no greater than any other right. Politically though, it’s going to be quite tough. Cosatu can either decide to back President Jacob Zuma or not. If it does, fine and well. If it doesn’t, it’ll be playing into the hands of that right wing demagogue it doesn’t like particularly much. And give him some oxygen when he is most desperately running out of it. So in the end, it will probably have to stay with Zuma. And this gives him a free hand in dealing with the politics of how to control the violence of unions.

As I’ve said before, South African politics still sees the pendulum swing from side to side. Nothing stays fixed for too long. It seems sometimes that we are forever condemned to the tyranny of union power, “rule by the mob”; when someone feels there are too many upstanding rubbish bins in the Joburg CBD, we all know they will be upstanding no longer. This would appear to be the start of a much broader process. Unions will say their rights and the rights of their workers are being eroded. But the broader citizenry is unlikely to agree. And the person who controls the middle ground of our politics will make plenty of hay with that. 


Labour Department ‘takes leaf out of DA book’

November 28, 2011

The Department of Labour supported a private members’ bill submitted by the DA that would make unions legally liable when their members looted and damaged property during a strike, Ian Ollis, the party’s spokesman on labour, said yesterday.

He said that during a briefing to the portfolio committee on labour about the passage of the four controversial labour amendment bills through Nedlac, the negotiating chamber for the government, labour and business, the department revealed that it had i...

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COSATU needs violence to get its own way - Ian Ollis

November 8, 2011

COSATU opposes DA bill because it needs violence to get its own way

Yesterday, COSATU rubbished the DA's legislative proposal to make unions responsible for the misconduct of its members during strikes. It claimed that it already "puts measures in place to prevent strike violence" and that any legislation to hold unions accountable for such violence is therefore "out of order".

Actually, the contrary is true. COSATU has never attempted to prevent its members from wreaking havoc during strikes. ...

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Labour bill deadline passes as clashes slow progress

November 8, 2011

Business Day - 04/11/2011 

THE Department of Labour’s October deadline for finalisation of amendments bills to SA’s labour legislation has passed with no discernible progress.

The bills were the first proposed amendments to SA’s labour laws in years and the parties involved — the government, business and labour — have described them as delicate due to their far-reaching implications for the labour market.

Last month Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said she wanted the bills to be final...

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Compensation cover for domestic workers

September 30, 2011

The Daily News
Domestic workers are among the few South Africans who cannot claim from the Compensation Fund if they are injured on duty, the DA has said.

And the party plans to do something about it. DA MP and labour spokesman Ian Ollis announced yesterday that his party had prepared a “comprehensive action plan” to allow domestic workers the same compensation benefits enjoyed by most other categories of workers.

He noted that, aside from soldiers and police officers, who have their own com...

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What happened to 'the year of the job?': DA

September 22, 2011


12 September, 2011 

 In February, President Jacob Zuma declared 2011 "the year of the job" but it has turned out to be the opposite, the opposition Democratic Alliance said on Monday.

This followed the release of the latest Adcorp Employment Index indicating that employment declined by 2.1% during August.

"At a time when we should be turning the jobs crisis around, we are sliding further backwards," said Ian Ollis, DA Spokesperson on labour.

Ollis said the government needed to act no...

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Let's agree on one goal: creating jobs

September 22, 2011
The Daily Maverick

22 September, 2011  

 If we want to end unemployment, we are going to have to focus relentlessly on job creation and all agree that that is our most important target. We cannot aim the economy at achieving all things to all men.

Making an economy grow and creating jobs will take specific changes to the economy. Wanting to create jobs will do nothing. Setting the goal of job creation will create nothing, and even developing a document with the words “New Growth” or “Jobs...

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Ministers in R2.5m 'Travelgate'

August 22, 2011

26 July, 2011

The government has been hit by another hired car scandal, this time involving the Department of Public Service and Administration. 

The department spent R1.4-million on hiring luxury cars for its deputy ministers for a year because there were "no funds available" to buy an official vehicle.

This was revealed yesterday in parliament by Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi.

Baloyi admitted that it had taken his department a year to buy an official vehicl...

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DA welcomes Gordhan’s view on labour

August 22, 2011

Business Report
August 15, 2011

 The time is ripe for a debate on current labour laws, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday in response to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's admission that South Africa might have to change its views on the labour dispensation.

“Minister Gordhan's words are a step in the right direction,” said DA MP Ian Ollis in a statement.

“The latest Stats SA quarterly labour force survey indicates that official unemployment has surged to 25.7 percent, with 174,000 more ...

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Lessons from Geneva

August 7, 2011
The Daily Maverick - 28th July 2011

 A founder member of the United Nations’ biggest division, the centenarian International Labour Organisation, South Africa once again showed leadership, discipline and diplomacy in what is arguably the world’s most demanding tripartite gathering.

I have now twice attended the International Labour Organisation’s conference in Geneva. The ILO is the largest division within the United Nations. It’s 100 years old this year and South Africa was a founder m...

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