Labour changes aimed at job creation
The final labour law amendments will not have a negative effect on job creation, says the Department of Labour.
Speaking during the annual Labour Policy Conference in Pretoria recently, Labour minister, Nelisiwe Oliphant, said that the focus of changes to labour legislation will focus on ensuring better protection for workers.
“The key test of our policies will have to be their ability to contribute to job creation. To put it another way, we have to ensure that our policies do not have negative consequences for employment,” said Oliphant.
Oliphant was referring to the controversial amendment bills published on 17 December 2010, which are aimed at regulating labour broking in the market and increasing permanent jobs for workers. Public hearings are currently being held across the country as the bills prepare to be passed in Parliament.
Bills amended include the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act – which were all the subject of discussion in a Nedlac process during 2009 and early 2010.
The amendments which have divided government, business and labour unions – aim to regulate contract work, define the employer and employee and address issues with labour broking. While government has said the legislation is rooted in the growing casualisation of the workforce, trade federation Cosatu has clashed with political parties and business with its call for a widespread ban of labour broking.
The department is also looking to introduce the Employment Services Bill – which would monitor and regulate service providers.
“We want both jobs and we must strive for decent work… It is therefore important that we engage in social dialogue on the amendments in an effective and focused way. I am sure that we would all want the amendments to be passed into law as soon as possible so that the legal reforms can begin to change labour relations and the operation of the labour market for the better,” she said.
Oliphant noted that the first policy challenge is the review of labour legislation that started at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) a few days ago at the meeting of the task team on 20 January 2011.
“What has changed since the Nedlac discussions in 2009 is the labour market context. Due to the economic recession we lost a further one million jobs, bringing the numbers of unemployed in South Africa to roughly 4.4 million in September 2010. Job creation is now an overriding priority for government and hopefully for our social partners as well,” says Oliphant.