• 10 tips to find bargains

    Susan Erasmus gives advice on how bargain hunters can get the most bang for their buck.

  • Inside Labour

    Labour's bitter breaches need to be seen in historical context, says Terry Bell.

  • Rich getting richer

    Economists differ on how to tackle the chasm between rich and poor, says Leopold Scholtz.

See More

Criminalise wage thieves - Mdladlana

Oct 12 2010 16:45

Related Articles

Wage bills affect investments: Spicer

Unions, govt in crunch wage talks

Wage hikes threaten SA's credit rating

Cape Town - Employers who do not meet minimum wage levels are no better than thieves and should face criminal sanctions, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said on Tuesday.

"What I am proposing, and I know that many people are going to fight with me... we want to criminalise people who do not comply with the law," he told the annual meeting of the clothing industry bargaining council in Cape Town.

"I'm ready for the battle."

He said some clothing manufacturers appeared to regard non-compliance with wage levels set by the council as "the norm".

However, even in the apartheid era, non-compliance with labour law had been a criminal offence.

"I'm very simplistic about this matter. I don't know the difference between a person who steals somebody's television and a person who steals somebody's fundamental human right," Mdladlana said.

He said the council had done all it could in terms of "accommodating, massaging, soothing" non-compliant firms.

"So what do you do in a situation where you are even begging people to comply?" he asked.

The council should not be quick to put up a white flag of surrender in its battle against offenders.

"The war is not over. It's probably just the beginning," he said.

The minister's remarks follow controversy over pay at some clothing factories in the Newcastle area, where the statutory minimum wage is R324 a week.

Business statement

The council says, though this is disputed by the Newcastle employers, that some workers are getting as little as R90 a week.

Some of the factories shut down briefly in August saying they could not afford the minimum.

However Mdladlana told the council on Tuesday that those employers were making a "political statement.

"Because that's not a business statement: that's a political statement," he said.

Employer spokesperson on the council Johan Baard told Sapa employers fully supported re-criminalising the Labour Relations Act.

Before 1995, any employer in breach of a bargaining council agreement would appear before a magistrate, who would either ask them to remedy the breach, or impose a punishment such as jail.

"It just seems to us that in the absence of an effective deterrent, the current civil remedy is certainly proving to be ineffective and is being abused by many employers," Baard said.

He said the most severe sanction under the current system was a high court writ of execution to attach the assets of a company against its indebtedness to its workers in respect of underpayment of wages.

membathisi mdladlana  |  cape town  |  economy  |  politics



Company Snapshot

Brought to you by BizNews

More from BizNews

We're talking about:


Johannesburg has been selected to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in 2017. "[The congress] will ensure that small business development remains firmly on the national agenda and the radar screen of all stakeholders, the Small Business Development minister said.

Top 10 richest musicians of all time

Check out the gallery to find out who they are!


Luxury living

Seven of the most expensive children's toys ever made
5 millionaires turned murderers
The youngest billionaires in the world and how they made it
Watch: Flying first class has never been this luxurious!

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...

Voting Booth

How do you see your boss? He/sheis:

Previous results · Suggest a vote