Jackson Mthembu. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Jackson Mthembu. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has strongly condemned the storming of a parliamentary committee meeting on the minimum wage law.

South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) members stormed a meeting of Parliament’s labour committee on Wednesday to protest against the adoption of the National Minimum Wage Bill.

The committee meeting was scheduled to have clause-by-clause deliberations on the National Minimum Wage Bill, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill.

The Saftu delegation demanded to participate in the deliberations on the bills.

When acting committee chairperson Sharome van Schalkwyk refused the request, on the grounds that the meeting was not a public hearing, the group started chanting and banging on tables, resulting in damage to property.

"The despicable conduct of these protesters was also abusive as they threatened members of Parliament with violence. The committee had to call parliamentary protection services to remove the protesters from the venue. This incident left members of the committee distraught," Mthembu said.

"The thuggish behaviour of these protesters was deplorable and must be treated with the disdain it deserves. Their behaviour was meant to bully members of Parliament to toe the Saftu line on these bills."

Mthembu said Saftu had been granted an opportunity to make oral presentations on the three bills.

He said he would call on National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete to urgently look into this incident and evoke the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act to ensure that those found guilty of having disrupted and vandalised parliamentary property were held accountable, and possibly blacklisted from Parliament.

"As a consequence of these actions, we urge the committee to request that their deliberations on these bills be held in closed meetings in order to protect members of parliament from possible future intimidation," Mthembu said.