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Die resepsie van arbeidsreg in Suid-Afrika

KB Calitz

Abstract


In hierdie artikel word die resepsie en vroee ontwikkeling van arbeidsreg in Suid- Afrika ondersoek. Die arbeidsregstelsels van beide Nederland en Engeland is hier aangepas by die plaaslike sosio-ekonomiese en politieke omstandighede. 'n Unieke dualistiese arbeidsregstelsel het ontstaan. Hierdie stelsel het afsonderlike voorsiening vir swart en wit werkers gemaak. Navorsing oor die resepsie van arbeidsreg in Suid- Afrika word gekompliseer deur die feit dat die 17de-eeuse koloniste geen instruksies gehad het m.b.t. welke regstelsel hier toegepas moes word nie. Die eerste hof, die Raad van Justisie het boonop geen redes vir beslissings verstrek nie. Plakkaaten van die Politieke Raad, die vroegste wetgewende liggaam, het ook geen materiele reg bevat nie. Die enigste wyse om vas te stel welke regstelsel en dus welke arbeidsregstelsel op die Kaap van toepassing was, is om die destydse arbeidsregpraktyke saam met die arbeidsregtelike erfenis van die koloniste te ondersoek. Die arbeidsverhouding tussen wit werkgewers en wit werknemers was gebaseer op die Romeinsregtelike locatio conductio operarum, 'n kontrak wat vrylik gesluit is en nie die persoonlike vryheid van die werknemer geraak het nie. In teenstelling hiermee was feodalisme wat aan die taan was in Nederland, waar die meeste koloniste vandaan gekom het, van toepassing op die arbeidsverhouding tussen wit werkgewers en swart werknemers. Die rede hiervoor blyk te wees dat die ongesofistikeerde inheemse werkers wat geen besittings gehad het nie (die Khoikhoi) werk en beskerming gesoek het by diegene wat grond besit het (die wit mense). Hierdie feodale verhouding het die vryheid van die werknemer beperk en sodoende ook 'n verlaging in die status van die werknemer (dienskneg/vassal) meegebring. Die posisie van die inheemse bevolking het gedegenereer van 'n posisie waar hulle vrylik tot 'n arbeidsverhouding kon toetree, tot een waar hulle gedwing was om werk by wit persone te soek. Dit is meegebring deur metodes wat deur die koloniste gebruik is en regsmaatreels wat deur die verskillende regerings ingestel is ten einde 'n stabiele arbeidsmag te verseker. Alhoewel beide die Britse en Nederlandse regerings in Suid-Afrika gepoog het om inheemse arbeiders te beskerm teen verslawende praktyke, het beide hierdie regerings ook sekere onderdrukkende praktyke van die koloniste gewettig. Slawerny het 'n besliste invloed op arbeidsverhoudings aan die Kaap gehad. Wit persone het die Khoikhoi en slawe (donkerkleurige persone) met mekaar geassosieer. Die resultaat was dat wit persone wat arbeidstekorte ondervind het, van mening was dat hulle ook geregtig is op die arbeid van die inheemse bevolking. Sekere maatreels soos die inboekstelsel, die paswette en die dopstelsel is geimplementeer om arbeidstekorte die hoof te bied en het die effek gehad dat inheemse inwoners in 'n posisie gelyk aan die van slawe gehou is.

The reception of labour law in South Africa


This article investigates the reception and early development of labour law in South Africa. The labour law systems of both the Netherlands and England were adapted to local socio-economic and political circumstances. A unique dual labour law system came about. This system made provision for black and white workers separately. Research into the reception of labour law in South Africa is complicated by the fact that the 17th-century colonists had no instructions as to which legal system to apply. Moreover, the first court, the Court of Justice, furnished no reasons for its decisions. Legislation in the form of plakkaaten of the earliest legislative body, the Political Council, did not contain any material law either. The only possible way of establishing which legal system and thus which labour law system applied to the Cape, is by investigating the labour law practices in place, together with the labour law heritage of the colonists. The labour relationship between white employers and white employees was based on the Roman locatio conductio operarum, a contract entered into freely and which did not affect the personal freedom of the employee. However, feudalism which was being phased out in the Netherlands where most of the early colonists came from, applied in respect of the labour relationship between white employers and black employees. The reason for this appears to be that the unsophisticated indigenous habitants who had no possessions (the Khoikhoi), sought work and protection from those who possessed land (the whites). This feudal relationship curtailed the freedom and thus brought about a change in the status of the employee (servant/ vassal). The position of the indigenous people degenerated from one of being able to enter freely into a labour relationship to one of being forced to seek employment by white persons. This was brought about by methods used by the colonists and legal measures implemented by the different governments to ensure a stable labour force. Although the Netherlands and British governments in South Africa endeavoured to protect indigenous labourers from the practices 'enslaving' them, both governments legalised some of the oppressing measures practised by the colonists. Slavery had a definite influence on the labour relations in the Cape. White people associated Khoikhoi and slaves (dark-skinned people) with each other. The result was that white people who experienced labour shortages, regarded themselves as being entitled to the labour of indigenous people as well. Certain measures, such as the apprenticeship system, pass laws and the tot system were implemented to combat labour shortages and had the effect that indigenous people were kept in a slave-like position.

Journal for Juridicial Science Vol.28(2) 2003: 33-57



http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/jjs.v28i2.27138

Journal for Juridical Science.   ISSN: 0258-252X