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Update on NEDLAC negotiations in respect of TES/labour brokers

Tuesday, 06 December 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Natalie Singer
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5 December 2011


Following two articles that appeared in today's newspapers, namely "NEDLAC agrees on labour law amendments” in the Business Report and "Millions worse off than before 1994 – Vavi”, please find hereunder an update from Johnny Goldberg, CAPES Chief Operating Officer and one of the lead negotiators (for business) at NEDLAC.

In respect of the accuracy of the first article on the Minister's announcements on NEDLAC, there are only two conclusions that can be drawn, either the Minister is entirely uninformed of what is going on at NEDLAC or she has been completely misquoted.

There has never been a suggestion of having to justify before the courts the use of temporary employment services and there has been no suggestion of an increase in overtime pay or the criminalization thereof.

The question of criminalization was proposed in the original Bills published on 17 December 2010 but this has not been proposed again during the NEDLAC negotiations.

It appears from the article that the Minister is shifting to try and appease COSATU who have single-mindedly called for a ban on labour brokers, no matter what the circumstances are.

The second article sees the COSATU General Secretary again having a stab at the temporary employment services industry. It is rather ironic to see that he puts all of the ills of casualisation on the labour broking industry. The a-typical industry is estimated to be about 4 million people of which TES only comprises about 30%. To lump it all together and blame us for everything, including home work in the textile industry for example, is ridiculous.

There is ample research available including the Regulatory Impact Assessment (commissioned by the Department of Labour), Professor Bhorat's Labour Demand Trends (UCT), local TES research (commissioned by the Services SETA) and the internal research conducted by Boston Consulting Group (commissioned by CIETT) that all report and support the temporary employment services sector in a well-functioning labour market.

In fact, even the recently released National Development Plan acknowledges that the private employment (PrEA) sector, including TES, have significantly contributed to labour market matching in the past two decades, and the NDP recommends therefore that Government needs to efficiently regulate the PrEA and TES sectors to ensure mass access to employment opportunities.

Just last week, an article entitled "Laws needs to limber up” highlighted the findings of Professor Bhorat that indicate that as much as 20% of all job creation since 1994 can be attributed to the TES sector. He was quoted as saying: "Any change in regulation that reduced labour broking activity would be bad for job creation,” says Bhorat. He fears a "double whammy” on SA employment, should the world enter a double- dip recession simultaneously.

CAPES would like to reassure its members representing temporary employment services (TES) and their clients that the notion of a ban on the industry is moot. The current negotiations have been reported on repeatedly and the communication is that for the first six months the status quo would remain. Thereafter Government's proposal is that "deemed employment” should kick in insofar as the Labour Relations Act. These proposals are still under discussion and debate at NEDLAC and it would be irresponsible to speculate before the conclusion of the formal negotiation process.

Due to the tentative status of the negotiations, the NEDLAC sessions around the labour law review have been extended with the anticipated final meeting of the year, taking place on 13 December 2011. Feedback in relation to the status of the negotiations and way forward will be communicated as soon as more concrete information is available.

Way Forward

CAPES would like to stress the importance for TES organisations and their clients to remain calm and to continue with business as usual. The current speculation within the media should be read in context given that 2012 is a year for political electioneering and historically the labour broker debate has been used by various individuals and stakeholders to canvas support.

The team heading up the negotiations on behalf of business is committed to the social dialogue process and will continue to represent the interests of both the TES sector and the broader business environment so that any amendments made to labour legislation is conducive to economic growth and job creation.

CAPES will be driving a proactive media campaign, as agreed to at a recent strategy workshop, to ensure all stakeholders are kept abreast of developments.

Questions can be addressed to the writer via the APSO National Office.

Johnny Goldberg

Chief Operating Officer


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