SA labour laws up for review 3

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana is now in his eleventh year heading his department and shows no sign of slowing down. Speaking ahead of his budget speech to parliament Mdladlana explained that nearly all of the country’s labour laws will be amended in the coming months.

The Labour Relations Act will be address more clearly the issue of labour broking and define exactly who is the employer in such working arrangements. The Unemployment Insurance Fund will also be amended so that benefits can be increased. Employment Equity is likely to see increased fines for transgression and streamlined processes to allow the Labour Department to act more quickly.

Another big change underway is the movement of the entire skills development function to the new Department of Higher Education and Training. A task team is working on how best to do this and the Labour Minister explained that his department will continue to enfore this law during the transition period.

The shake up of SA’s labour laws comes against the backdrop of an economy in recession and rising job losses. Are these the right moves to make at this time? Would it be better to focus on job creation in this period – or is that impossible in a recession?

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3 thoughts on “SA labour laws up for review

  • Des Squire

    Change is a fact of life and inevitable. The revision of the LRA is long overdue and perhaps the minister should consider some other issues also. One in particulatr is the powers of the trade unions who curently appear to be a law unto themselves. Their excessive demands are of no benefit to the country as a whole and are actually contributing to job losses.
    The issue of labour Brokers is also vital at this point in time. They have a role to play but the exploitation of workers by some must be controlled and/or curtailed.
    The issue of skils devlopment has now become a farce and is laughable. Between the minister of labour and the minister of education I trust they can somehow between them arrive at consensus and decide on a final direction once and for all. My biggest concern here is – what will happen to the levies paid by employers?
    Regarding EE isssues, the EE Act was introduced in 1998 to foster and promote sound and fair workplace practices. In order to address the inequalities in employment patterns and practices it was deemed necessary to address the issue of inequality in the workplace. The act is specific in terms of minimum requirements, the completion of EE reports while at the same time making it possible for employees to question employers on issues related to Employment Equity. Designated employers are required to establish a consultative forum in order to give effect to the process. In this regard I have developed a training course aimed at empoweering EE forum members and it is quite frightening how few members have no knowledge of the EE efforts of their companies. (A requirement of the act) It is more frightening how many companies fail to comply regarding the introduction of such a forum. (A requirement of the act) So yes, something needs to be done.
    Job creation can happen, particularly if we take a step backwards and look outside of some of the existing minimum wage agreements that have been reached. I state emphaticlly that I am not agains minimum wages so please do not read this and attack me for this statement. What I am saying is that an income of some description is better than no income at all. Work of some form or another is better than no work. If the unemployed were offered employment with some form of subsistance income they would be greatful and would regain their feeling of self worth. From such employment the individuals would have an opportunity of displaying their abilities and could create their own opportunities. They would gain experience and some practical know how. When the recession ends and companies no longer feel the pinch then the salaries of such individuals could be reviewed. Problem of course is the trade unions will not permit this to happen.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    I agree with Rahman there’s never a good time for change.
    From experience, when employers complain about “labour legislation” I find that when questioned they can never explain or define, or quote a specific clause covering exactly what it is they are complaining about. To me:
    increasing UIF makes sense;
    if employers are not inclined to implement employment equity in the spirit and manner required, then fines seem to be the only way to focus executives minds;
    “labour brokers” covers a wide span of operations some good, some in need of change, especially those specifically set up with the intention of avoiding labour legislation; that all seems fine to me.
    One section of the Labour Relations Act that I do find problematic for small employers going through difficult financial times, s 189A of the Labour Relations Act. The consultation requirements for a small to medium-sized, privately-owned, business that can quite easily have more than 50 employees, and which does not have access to the financial protection of a multi-national parent, are onerous in the extreme – if there has been a decline in the business, the time constraints could easily mean that the business has collapsed during the process of consultation – certainly of no assistance to the employees its meant to protect. I’d suggest that that section needs to be reconsidered, particularly for the type of business I describe – differentiate between businesses yes, and set more onerous conditions by business size yes, but not solely on the number of employees.

  • Rahman Murtuza

    There will never be a good time for change as it will always affect one party or the other. It is time to address the issue of skill development and the changes that are needed have to made now. Unemployment will be a continuous challenge as long as the Government does not address the core issues of skills development and Entrepreneurships. Tourism has been instrumental in many countries in job creation as it is labour intensive and also bring in the foreign exchange that we need desperately. Government Ministries should also talk to each other instead of being on their own island and living in a cluster. If we communicate better we will find the solution right at our doors as we have the best facilities and tourist attraction in the World.We should stop re-inventing the wheels and learn from our neighbours. 11 years gone and one should take note of what has been achieved through Mr Mdladlana terms and what his vison is for his next term. Obviously everyone is free for his opinion, but I think that he must be doing something right in order to stay in that position, we cannot blame him for high unemployment but we can certainly holdhim responsible for not implementing better project to see an improvement. It is a subject that can be debated at length but we should be more positive and look at what is best for our country. Thanks