SOLIDARITY TO GO TO INTERNATIONAL UNION ON XENOPHOBIA

ANC Daily News Briefing/Sapa, 9 July 2008

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Trade union Solidarity is to ask the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to help it resolve xenophobia in South Africa. It would also approach the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for assistance, said spokesman Jaco Kleynhans in Pretoria on Wednesday. The ITUC represented over 168 million workers in 155 countries. This followed the release of Solidarity's report comparing xenophobic attacks in South Africa to that of other countries. The union said xenophobia was not a problem limited to SA. The study found similar incidents in South America, other African countries and Europe. "In most cases, the xenophobic attacks were caused by people migrating to other countries for job opportunities," said Kleynhans. He said in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica migrants came from poorer countries. This led to citizens of both countries hating them because they "deprive the citizens of job opportunities and service delivery". "The situation is exactly the same in South Africa. Unregulated immigration causes South Africans to feel as if people from other countries deprive them of job opportunities and service delivery," said Kleynhans. The report was compiled after more than 60 people were killed in attacks on foreigners and South African citizens around the country. The report took two months to compile. It blamed poor border control on the influx of immigrants from neighbouring countries. Another contributing factor was the inability of the country's education system to produce enough skilled workers. Unemployment and the situation in Zimbabwe were also identified as causes. According to the union, had SA been firmer on the happenings in Zimbabwe, the crisis could have been avoided. "Solidarity also expresses its disappointment with the reaction of government and other institutions to the xenophobic attacks. To deny the occurrence of xenophobia in South Africa, is simply to deny an international reality. "We would like the government to admit there is a problem and, by ratifying the ILO's Convention 143 of 1975, start to look for solutions," said Kleynhans. The union said it had already contacted the ILO requesting it to undertake a study into xenophobia. "Solidarity also requested the ILO to adapt Convention 143 to make provision for the current challenges caused by migration. "We believe that an updated convention of the ILO, ratified by South Africa, can stop xenophobia in its tracks." According to the report, the ILO should re-evaluate the migrant labour situation globally. "By including provisions for the protection of migrant workers against xenophobic violence, whether physical or psychological, the ILO could help to combat this problem," read the report.