Cosatu to march as govt deliberates
Cosatu, which has consistently stated that it would only accept a widespread ban of the practice, will stage protest action in the Northern Cape on Friday 26 May.
“We will march to the regional office of the Dept. of Labour where we will hand over a memorandum with our demands for the banning of labour brokers. It is our considered view that labour brokers compromise the decent work agenda in that they recruit workers for a short period of time and pay them starvation wages. The regional manager of the Department of Labour is expected to accept the memorandum on behalf of the minister,” says the trade federation.
However, Labour minister, Mildred Oliphant, remained cautious on government’s position – saying the policies would focus on balancing workers rights with employment rights.
“As government, through the department of labour, we will continue to work constructively with our social partners and will further endeavour to find appropriate labour framework that gives sufficient protection to workers that have been rendered vulnerable through certain abuses. We will do so, mindful that our policies should not have negative consequences for employment,” she stated.
The DOL has introduced amendments to several pieces of labour legislation, including the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Services Bill.
The department will during the 2011/12 financial year consult with stakeholders and on conclusion, present the bills to Parliament.
Amendments to the Labour Relations Act, aim to regulate contract work through a proposed amendment which aims to stop the practice of repeated contracting for short-term periods. According to the Bill, the onus will be on employers to justify the use of short-term or fixed term contracts in place of contracting employees on a permanent basis.
The proposed changes also aim to address the problem of labour broking through clauses in the Labour Relations Amendment Bill which propose to repeal section 198 that deals with Temporary Employment Services (TES) in the Labour Relations Act. The DOL wants to introduce a new Employment Services Bill which will address both private and public employment services.
While Oliphant acknowledged the conflicting views on labour broking, she reassured that the final amendments would be beneficial to all.
Cosatu, along with youth political organisations have called on government to introduce a widespread ban on labour broking, business organisations and the ICT sector have called for increasing regulation – saying a widespread ban could effectively destroy certain business sectors.
“…One of our key aims in amending labour legislation is to address the phenomenon of labour broking and its associated abusive tendencies. We do this well aware, that amending this legislation will have important consequences for the operation of the labour market system. The debates on these bills have attracted a variety of responses which illustrate clearly the articulation of different interests that could be affected by the proposed amendments,” she stated.