DA calls for four labour bills to be haltedJanuary 17th, 2011 by H&R | Categories: government, hotels, legal, restaurants, tourism
The four labour bills that were gazetted by the government over the holiday season should be halted in their tracks.
This is the view of the Democratic Alliance, which said today that the bills contain many problematic provisions.
The DA said in a statement today: “Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force survey for the third quarter of 2010 records the fact that one in four South Africans (25.3%) are currently unemployed, using government’s official definition. Including discouraged job seekers, the figure rises to one in three (33.1%). This amounts to 6.4 million South Africans who are unable to find work, support their families, and build towards their hopes and aspirations.
“Any measures that affect the labour market therefore need to be carefully contemplated. Measures that can assist in building an environment conducive to greater job creation, such as a national wage subsidies programme, should be given urgent consideration. Likewise, measures that may exacerbate the unemployment crisis need to be avoided at all costs. The Democratic Alliance strongly supports measures that safeguard the rights of employees; exploitative labour practices have no place in our democracy. We believe, however, that legitimate calls for fair labour laws have been hijacked by a self-serving interest group, which is now using claims of exploitation as a ruse to boost its own membership numbers.
“We believe, in short, that the four labour bills that were gazetted over the holiday period are designed partly to address legitimate problems, and partly to appease Cosatu, and boost the number of unionised workers. To the extent that they do the latter, we believe they are misguided, and do not serve the interests of the majority of South Africans.
“The DA certainly has no objection in principle to employees being unionised, nor do we object in principle to an interest group acting to defend its own interests. The problem is with the cabinet, and the Department of Labour, who are acceding to Cosatu’s demands with little regard to those who stand to lose jobs, or indeed to the plight of South Africa’s unemployed – who will find it harder than ever to find work, should these measures be promulgated.
“As the Department of Labour’s own impact assessment has demonstrated, the cost of creating relatively few new permanent (and therefore potentially unionised) posts will be the destruction of hundreds of thousands, and quite possibly millions, of jobs in the South African economy.
“The equation is simple: we can either have a few more permanent jobs, and a lot more unemployment, or we can have many more temporary jobs, and a lot less unemployment. Cosatu would prefer the former option, because it provides them the opportunity to boost their membership numbers. But the vast majority of South Africans would prefer lower unemployment. This, ultimately, is why we believe these proposed measures are wrong-headed, and need to be reconsidered.
“The impact assessment commissioned on this matter by the Department of Labour says that the jobs of 2.13 million South Africans classified as fixed-term, temporary or seasonal workers will be placed in jeopardy by these legislative measures. Not all will lose their jobs – some temporary workers might successfully be rehired in a permanent capacity. The majority, however, in all probability will be made redundant; with the impact assessment going as far as to conclude that the end result would be ‘serious destabilising effects in the labour market’ – a quite unprecedented level of condemnation for a government-commissioned report.
The DA believes that creating a vibrant, growing economy must be at the heart of efforts to address unemployment and alleviate poverty in South Africa. This is essentially the standard by which these proposed amendments must be judged. Simply put, will they help to create quality jobs, and enhance skills development? Will they help to alleviate poverty? The DA’s answer to these questions, based on the studies available to us, and our careful assessment of the provisions set out in these legislative proposals, is an emphatic ‘no’.
“The four bills that have been announced by the Zuma administration need to be halted in their tracks, until the array of problematic provisions contained therein are removed. Broad consultation needs to take place, and we urge members of the public, stakeholders and all affected parties to submit their comments on the proposed bills by the deadline of 17 February.”