COUN­CIL

In­dus­try, the largest em­ployer in the for­mal sec­tor, to de­fend 12-hour shift sys­tem

CityPress - - Business & Tenders - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG de­wald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za Pro­tec­tion ser­vices work­ers ac­cord­ing to the

The pri­vate se­cu­rity in­dus­try has asked for its own bar­gain­ing coun­cil, which would pos­si­bly bring one of South Africa’s largest sources of em­ploy­ment into the statu­tory cen­tral bar­gain­ing sys­tem. While this new coun­cil might help root out the se­cu­rity in­dus­try’s in­fa­mous “com­pli­ance prob­lems” around wages and ben­e­fits, the pri­mary mo­tive is to main­tain the ex­tra­or­di­nary “nor­mal” hours of work in the sec­tor, said Tony Botes, na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Se­cu­rity As­so­ci­a­tion of SA (Sasa).

Sasa is an em­ployer group rep­re­sent­ing 75 com­pa­nies with 140 000 guards. It made the ap­pli­ca­tion for a bar­gain­ing coun­cil, which was pub­lished in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette last week, and is sup­ported by another em­ployer group, the SA Na­tional Se­cu­rity Em­ploy­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, as well as 18 unions.

Pri­vate se­cu­rity has adopted 12-hour shifts as its ba­sic or­gan­is­ing prin­ci­ple, which means the sec­tor’s nor­mal work­ing hours are 48 hours a week di­vided into four shifts.

The Ba­sic Con­di­tions of Em­ploy­ment Act makes the 45hour week (nine hours a day) the stan­dard work­ing ar­range­ment in South Africa.

Le­gally speak­ing, the se­cu­rity in­dus­try has to con­tin­u­ally ask for and get an an­nual de­vi­a­tion from that to main­tain its busi­ness model.

If the se­cu­rity in­dus­try did not get its vari­a­tion, it would fun­da­men­tally al­ter the cost struc­ture of pri­vate guard­ing, said Botes.

If shifts were limited to nine hours, a com­pany would need to hire 13% more guards to pro­vide the same ser­vice. By cut­ting hours, all work­ers’ earn­ings would drop, he said.

The in­dus­try has a bar­gain­ing fo­rum with­out statu­tory pow­ers that pro­duces wage deals that have tended to be wholly ac­cepted by gov­ern­ment and im­posed on the whole sec­tor in the form of a sec­toral de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Im­mi­nent changes to labour law will end this ar­range­ment, said Botes.

“Within three months, we will see a new Labour Re­la­tions Act, Ba­sic Con­di­tions of Em­ploy­ment Act and na­tional min­i­mum wage leg­is­la­tion,” said Botes.

“Over the years, we have ne­go­ti­ated vari­ances from the Ba­sic Con­di­tions of Em­ploy­ment Act on hours and shifts. We have had no guar­an­tee that we can main­tain the 48 hours un­der the new act.”

In­stead, ac­cord­ing to Botes, the depart­ment has rel­a­tively con­cretely in­di­cated that it would no longer per­mit the vari­ance.

“We don’t know what it will con­tain,” he said of wage sched­ules that will be pro­duced next year.

How­ever, the labour law amend­ments give the in­dus­try an op­por­tu­nity to guar­an­tee its agree­ments by low­er­ing the bar for bar­gain­ing coun­cils to get the power to set sec­toral wages.

“The big deal for us is the ex­ten­sion of bar­gain­ing agree­ments. They are drop­ping the re­quire­ment that both sides are rep­re­sen­ta­tive,” said Botes.

The unions that have signed up for the bar­gain­ing coun­cil only rep­re­sent 92 613 work­ers – nowhere near enough to demon­strate “rep­re­sen­tiv­ity”.

The em­ploy­ers at the ta­ble, how­ever, em­ploy 211 000 peo­ple – the­o­ret­i­cally enough to qual­ify as rep­re­sent­ing the guard­ing in­dus­try.

It is, how­ever, hard to know how large the in­dus­try re­ally is. The em­ployer groups driv­ing the new coun­cil put the rel­e­vant num­ber at 250 000, which is de­rived from the mem­ber­ship of the in­dus­try’s prov­i­dent fund.

This mea­sure clearly ex­cludes thou­sands of work­ers, but Botes jus­ti­fies it as the only num­ber that “at least has some back­ing”.

If you ask the Pri­vate Se­cu­rity In­dus­try Reg­u­la­tory

Quar­terly Labour Force Sur­vey

Pro­tec­tion ser­vices work­ers in the

for­mal sec­tor se­cu­rity of­fi­cers

Ac­tive reg­u­la­tor To­tal em­ploy­ees ac­cord­ing to the in­dus­try em­ployer groups, ased on mem er­ship Se­cu­rity work­ers em­ployed y the em­ploy­ers

coun­cil

ac­cord­ing to the

prov­i­dent fund bar­gain­ing

Se­cu­rity work­ers elong­ing to the unions that are part of the ar­gain­ing coun­cil ap­pli­ca­tion

Taken at face value, this makes se­cu­rity the third largest oc­cu­pa­tion in South Africa after farm labour and do­mes­tic work.

In the for­mal sec­tor, it is the largest oc­cu­pa­tion, mak­ing the pro­posed bar­gain­ing coun­cil po­ten­tially an im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tion within the labour mar­ket.

“I can’t see any le­git­i­mate com­pa­nies chal­leng­ing the ex­ten­sion of our agree­ments,” said Botes.

Large bar­gain­ing coun­cils have been un­der at­tack in the past few years from mi­nor­ity em­ployer groups and lib­eral think-tanks, which blame them for squeez­ing small em­ploy­ers out of busi­ness by set­ting high wage rates.

The se­cu­rity in­dus­try could be the pro­to­typ­i­cal two-layer sec­tor, with much of it cur­rently fly­ing un­der the radar with­out pay­ing con­tri­bu­tions into the prov­i­dent fund or reg­is­ter­ing em­ploy­ees with Psira.

“The need to min­imise costs and com­pe­ti­tion within the se­cu­rity ser­vices mar­ket en­cour­ages pri­vate se­cu­rity ser­vice providers to ex­ploit work­ers in many ways,” said Mofikoe.

She said that prob­a­bly 20% to 30% of se­cu­rity work­ers were not de­clared to the reg­u­la­tor.

Botes said: “We are deal­ing with se­ri­ous com­pli­ance prob­lems. I see gross un­der­pay­ment ev­ery day.”

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