Govt calls for labour broking debate
In a statement, the DOL notes that the first round of public consultations on its proposed amendments will be held in Cape Town on Tuesday, 18 January 2011.
“The amendments to our labour legislation seek to address critical issues in the South African labour market that have important implications for stakeholders. We therefore call on social partners to constructively engage in the process in the interests of all parties,” said the DOL.
This follows the publishing of long-awaited amendments to the Labour Relations Ac(LRA), the Employment Equity Act (EEA), the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) as well as the new Employment Services Bill – which were published on 17 December 2010, with the closing date for public comments set for 17 February 2011.
After several delays and heated public hearings, the Department of Labour (DOL) 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 DOL states that the amendments have their origins in the growing casualisation of work that has become a feature of the South African Labour market over the past decade and are aimed at improving workers rights.
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.
The amendments also propose a definition of the employer and employee in an attempt to give greater certainty to the employment relationship. As a result of the new definition of employer, no temporary employment service will be able to be the employer of workers that it places in work.
Changes will also address the Comission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and propose a range of amendments to the provisions that deal with the commission to facilitate dispute resolution and enhance the efficiency of its operations.
While trade federation, 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.
Cosatu previously stated that it would participate in the public hearings, while business organisations are expected to also take part in the consultations.