We gather with deep concern from the media that the ANC Members of the Labour Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, are swinging strongly in favour of removing provisions for strike ballots, picketing rules and effectively banning Temporary Employment Service Providers, otherwise known as labour brokers. If these reports are accurate, we are deeply perturbed as business because not only does this create further destabilisation in the current fragile economy but also makes a mockery of the NEDLAC process.
These Bills have been subject to negotiations between government, labour, business and the community constituencies for over 3 years at NEDLAC, and were presented to the Labour Portfolio committee in March 2012. While it is understood that the process of public hearings plays a role in law making, care should be taken not to undermine a thourough social dialogue process backed up by comprehensive supporting studies.
Additionally, business went to great lengths to get a Regulatory Impact Assessment study on amendments contained in the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, which indicated that hundreds of thousands of job losses would occur if such amendments were introduced. In Government’s own Regulatory Impact Assessment study of the 2010 proposed amendment Bill, the study indicated significant job losses if labour brokers were to be banned. As a result of this very same study, it was recommended that regulation was a more sensible option that an outright ban, taking into consideration the impact on employment, in particular.
Labour market announcements and inconsistent messages such as these add further damage to business confidence and will impact negatively on South Africa’s already weak economic growth projections for this year.
These pronouncements and the manner in which this is being handled, including the line by line negotiation that is taking place in the Labour Portfolio committee right now, do not do any justice to the structures that have been put in place to deal with these matters in South Africa, like NEDLAC.