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DA warns on labour law changes

Jul 23 2012 16:16 Sapa

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Parliament - Jobs will be lost and the cost of doing business will increase if proposed changes to South Africa's employment and labour relations acts are passed in their current form, the DA said on Monday.

"If passed in their current form, the labour amendment bills will exacerbate the unemployment crisis," Democratic Alliance MP Andricus van der Westhuizen told reporters at parliament.

He was referring to the basic conditions of employment amendment bill and the labour relations amendment bill, both the subject of public hearings before parliament's labour portfolio committee on Tuesday.

His colleague, DA MP Sej Motau, said a new regulatory impact assessment (RIA) is needed before any decision ias taken on the draft legislation.

"We cannot gamble with the future of South African workers. The DA therefore calls for a new RIA to be completed to determine the effect of the current proposals on economic growth and job creation before any decision is taken on this draft legislation," he said.

Motau said South Africa "has the highest unemployment rate among developed and developing countries, with 3.2 million people between the ages of 15 and 34 currently unemployed".

He said if the bills were passed as is, they would "increase the cost of doing business, reduce South Africa's attractiveness as an investment destination and, ultimately, destroy jobs".

According to a document tabled at the media briefing, the DA opposes, among others, sections of the labour relations amendment bill that seek to limit certain contracted employment to six months.

Responding to a question on this, Motau said six months was too restrictive.

"Twelve months is held as good practice globally... and where we should be aiming."

He said the labour inspectorate would have difficulty policing a six-month cap.

According to the document, the DA also opposed section 55 of the basic conditions of employment amendment bill.

The DA said the current version gave the labour minister too much power to act unilaterally, without proper consultation or accountability, including conferring the power to determine minimum salary increases for so-called uncovered workers in certain sectors.

The DA also had a problem with sections of the same draft legislation dealing with the power of employers to object to compliance orders issued by labour inspectors, which the bill seeks to remove.

da  |  labour law  |  labour relations act  |  employment
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