ULEMASA – Preserve and protect members and trade union rights

  • Preserve and protect members and trade union rights
  • Promote wellbeing of members
  • Build alliances social partners
  • Ensure members working conditions are fair

As a locally recruited employee working for a mission, you are most likely aware that some diplomatic missions and consular posts stationed in South Africa (“missions”) are currently applying and utilising employment practices and policies that are prima facie in breach of South African labour legislation, such as the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act No. 66 of 1995) (“LRA”) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act No. 75 of 1997) (“BCEA”). We have also received various complaints from locally recruited personnel (“LRP”) that they are being exploited by their diplomatic employers and that their rights are trampled on. These LRP are then at a severe disadvantage, since their employers are relying on diplomatic immunity as a tool to circumvent accountability and/or to avoid legal scrutiny and to undermine or violate their human rights and human dignity

It was due to these unfortunate events that ULEMASA was established. It was formally registered as a trade union by the Registrar of Labour Relations at the Department of Labour on 18 July 2018 and obtained its certificate of registration pursuant to section 96(7)(a) of the LRA. It was originally formed by LRP to ensure that the rights to freedoms of association and fair labour practices of fellow LRP, as enshrined in sections 18 and 23 respectively of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, are respected and upheld and to make sure that their employers comply with and respect the provisions of the LRA and the BCEA. This duty is based on the provisions of Art 41.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, the provisions of which have the force of law in South Africa pursuant to section 2(1) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 2001 (Act No. 37 of2001). Missions, as the official representatives of their sending states, must therefore respect the laws and regulations of the Republic of South Africa, as the receiving state. It is the duty of ULEMASA to make sure that this happens, and we will use whatever tools necessary within the law to achieve this goal.