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The Interdependence of Labour and Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Labour and environmental rights in South Africa both originated in reaction to particular and important societal problems. Labour law has traditionally been concerned with inequalities of bargaining powers, whilst environmental law was historically concerned with protection of the biophysical environment. At first glance the two rights therefore appear to be unrelated. In view of arguments that fundamental human rights cannot be achieved in isolation. This article explores the potential relationship between the two rights. It begins by providing an overview of the intersection between labour and environmentalists during the struggle against Apartheid as a basis for identifying the priorities of both sectors in advocating for the two rights and how the divide between the two narrowed. That overview provides a backdrop for the discussion which follows regarding how the intersection between the rights has played out both within the traditional and expanded conceptualisations of labour law. The study finds that the two rights do have a dependence and that the environmental arena has provided the basis for the continuation of the fight to ensure social justice for both the traditional and extended reconceptualized approach to labour law.

About the Authors

J. Hall
University of Johannesburg

Jenny Hall - Senior Lecturer, Department of Procedural Law, Faculty of Law

A Ring 701A Kingsway Campus, PO Box 524, Auckland Park, Johannesburg

M. van Staden
University of Johannesburg
Russian Federation

Marius van Staden - Associate Professor, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law

A Ring 701A Kingsway Campus, PO Box 524, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, 2006


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For citations:

Hall J., van Staden M. The Interdependence of Labour and Environmental Rights in South Africa. BRICS Law Journal. 2021;8(2):120-151.

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ISSN 2409-9058 (Print)
ISSN 2412-2343 (Online)