Human Rights

Human Rights: A Step In The Right Direction

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The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which was adopted in Nairobi circa 1981, June 27 and subsequently entered into force circa 1986, October 21. Provides and recognizes that: ‘’ the fundamental rights stem from the attributes of human beings, which justifies their national and international protection.’’

Our #Constitution has similar values embedded in the preamble, and has ameliorated and entrenched these values into the Bill of Rights: ‘’ The South African legal system is beginning to mirror the protection of rights as provided for in the Charter, thereby ensuring the protection of human rights through incorporation of the African Charter norms, into the South African legal system.’’

When we initially wrote on human rights, we did so in a manner that reported on the celebrations of the particular day, what we have observed since – there isn’t a day that goes by without the subject of human rights in our lives. We read newspapers daily on gross violations, yet we also read of stories where lives are touched. We watch and exchange legal material and texts surrounding litigation on human rights. There isn’t an avenue and or arena of life and commerce that isn’t affected by human rights.

A Good Story To Tell:

  • South Africa has a South African Human Rights Commission Act, which guides the Commission on the exercise of its duties
  • The Ten Top South African human rights achievements
  • Our Independent Judiciary (see @whyjudgesmatter on Twitter)
  • Amazing South Africans, doing amazing things: Abahlali baseMjondolo Shack Dwellers Movement
  • The Office of the Public Protector (which acts as a watchdog for the citizens of the republic)

On a daily basis we head out to our respective workplaces, we stop on traffic lights and see a country that is moving, a country that is working – alive with possibility. And it is with this pioneering spirit of the people, we will together strive for the promotion, awareness and exercise of human rights. A step in the right direction, indeed.

Additional Reading:

The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
Abahlali Basemjondolo Movement SA and Another v Premier of the Province of Kwazulu-Natal and Others (CCT12/09) [2009] ZACC 31; 2010 (2) BCLR 99 (CC) (14 October 2009)

Equal pay for equal work

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Gender Equity

According to the principle set out in: Louw v Golden Arrow Bus Services – December 1999

fairness requires that persons doing equal work should receive equal pay

Thus equal pay is a concept based on fairness. In recent times, around the world there has been huge dialogue and various movements on equal pay – for equal work. Largely due to females being remunerated lower pay rates, than their male counterparts, for the same work.

It sounds simple enough, all parties should earn the same amount, for the objectively same type of work Defrenne v Sabena – then why is that females still earn less and not in South Africa alone, but the UK and Germany amongst others with 20 – 22% difference in pay between males and females?

The answer is slightly complex. Let us briefly unpack a few factors contributing towards the wage gap based on gender, and the positive strides governments around the world – especially ours are taking in reducing the gap:

Where a woman lives can make a big difference in how much she earns comparatively

( Additionally, the race and ethnicity of the woman may also contribute to how she is remunerated for her services – this is obviously arbitrary treatment, which goes against not only South Africa’s constitutional values, but also international norms and standards. Article 23(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) provides:

everyone without any discrimination has the right to equal pay, for equal work


To show their commitment towards equal pay – for all, the South African government ratified the ILO 100 Convention, Article 2(1) which provides:

each member state shall promote and ensure the application to all workers of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers, for work of equal value

South Africa ratified article 2(1) in Parliament, on the 30th of March 2000.

What then is our current status quo? We have these brilliant, equitable laws and provisions championing equal remuneration based on objective standards. The precedent set in Louw and the amendments to the Employment Equity Act. Sections 6(4) and 6(5) make provision for equal pay for the same work, similar work in addition to work of equal value.

With the above mentioned safety nets provided for by the law, the journey to equal remuneration for all looks feasible and this is promising. (We have provided links Louw and the amendments to EE Act below)

*EE ACT: Click here.

*Louw v Golden Arrow Bus Service (Pty) Ltd (C 37/97) [1999] ZALC 166 (23 November 1999) : Click here.