Po­lit­i­cal slant to raft of labour law amend­ments

Changes will weaken em­ploy­ers and re­sult in even more job losses

The Star Early Edition - - WORKPLACE -

HE GOV­ERN­MENT’S un­sat­is­fac­tory ser­vice de­liv­ery record, cou­pled with the pub­lic­ity the Nkandla scan­dal has caused, threat­ens the ANC’s prospects in the im­pend­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

This is ex­ac­er­bated by the decision of Numsa, Cosatu’s erst­while big­gest af­fil­i­ate, not to support the ANC in the next elec­tions.

There­fore, the re­cent sig­na­ture by Pres­i­dent Zuma of nu­mer­ous fright­en­ing labour law amend­ments ap­pears to be an at­tempt by the gov­ern­ment at ap­peas­ing Cosatu in the hope of re­tain­ing its support at the polls.

The pos­i­tive as­pects of the new laws are out­num­bered by pro­vi­sions that will in­flict the fol­low­ing se­vere dam­age on em­ploy­ers:

Fixed-term em­ploy­ment con­tracts will be il­le­gal if the em­ployer can­not jus­tify them on the grounds that the work it­self is gen­uinely limited in du­ra­tion.

Em­ploy­ers will have to con­vert all un­jus­ti­fied fixed-term con­tracts to per­ma­nent con­tracts and give the em­ploy­ees the rel­e­vant ben­e­fits.

Em­ploy­ers will have to give some ben­e­fits to fixed-term em­ploy­ees that are en­joyed by their per­ma­nent col­leagues.

Fixed-term em­ploy­ees and those em­ployed via place­ment agen­cies

Tin­ten­tion of ad­ver­tis­ing the posts.

Bro­kers/agen­cies deal­ing with tem­po­rary and per­ma­nent jobs will not be able to op­er­ate with­out a li­cence, and such li­cences could be with­held or re­voked if th­ese agen­cies fail to com­ply with statu­tory re­quire­ments. Lo­cal busi­nesses are step­ping up their plans for mech­a­ni­sa­tion and for mov­ing their work­places to our north­ern neigh­bours or to the Far East.

Over­seas busi­nesses will be more de­terred than ever from in­vest­ing here in labour-in­ten­sive projects. The min­ing and mo­tor in­dus­tries are in the front­line of this “strike” by business.

The ANC’s stated pol­icy of cre­at­ing “de­cent em­ploy­ment” will be con­tam­i­nated by fast ac­cel­er­at­ing “in­de­cent un­em­ploy­ment”.

The key ques­tion be­ing asked is: Even if the ANC does not hold back on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan, will there be any­thing sal­vage­able of our econ­omy by the time such im­ple­men­ta­tion is ad­vanced enough to take ef­fect?

I will go more deeply into the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of th­ese sui­ci­dal labour law amend­ments dur­ing my next ar­ti­cles.

Ivan Is­rael­stam is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Labour Law Man­age­ment Con­sult­ing. He can be con­tacted at 011 888 7944 or via e-mail at ivan@labourlawad­vice.co.za. Visit www.labourlawad­vice.co.za.

To buy the e-book Walk­ing the New Labour Law Tightrope, go to www.labourlawad­vice.co.za.

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