DA says voice of organised labour and business has been silenced through this side-lining of Nedlac
Fatally flawed labour bills promise jobs bloodbath
30 May 2018
The DA today voted against the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, the National Minimum Wage Bill, and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill in the National Assembly.
The DA has been very clear during deliberations on these bills in the Portfolio Committee of Labour that the bills have not been subjected to proper public consultation and will push hundreds of thousands of people into unemployment.
Indeed, many provisions contained in the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, specifically, are a significant departure from what had been agreed to at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), an objection raised by many labour unions during committee deliberations.
Nedlac was created as the “vehicle by which Government, labour, business and community organisations will seek to cooperate, through problem-solving and negotiation, on economic, labour and development issues”, but the ANC has reduced this important forum to just another talk shop in its unseemly haste to deliver on the unachievable promises made by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
The voice of organised labour and business has been silenced through this side-lining of Nedlac. This is to say nothing of the voices of South Africa’s 9.5 million unemployed which have never been heard in the discussion over national minimum wage.
As a consequence, the labour bills will take away labour unions’ right to collective bargaining, replacing it with Ministerial discretion on recalling sectoral minimum wages that have been meticulously negotiated over years. Furthermore, the labour bills will give the Department of Labour extensive enforcement powers to deal with transgressions and non-compliance, but without any concomitant plans to capacitate an already under-resourced Department and its entities.
There is little point in passing legislation knowing full well that implementation is impossible. It is inexcusable that the proposed bills have not been subjected to a thorough social-economic impact assessment. National Treasury concluded, in 2016, that the bills will result in some 715,000 job losses and a 2.1% economic contraction. The real number of job losses is certain to be even higher.
The labour bills currently before Parliament are the most important changes to South Africa’s labour regime in more than two decades. The process cannot be rushed and should be subjected to proper public participation, feasibility studies and detailed modelling on the anticipated job losses. The DA will continue to fight for those who have been excluded. These bills in their current form do little to improve the labour market, instead will contribute to massive job losses.
Issued by Michael Bagraim, DA Shadow Minister of Labour, 28 May 2018