Cape Town - Cosatu is not denouncing government's new draft labour
legislation but bracing for a fight with labour brokers and employers
intent on resisting regulation, trade federation leader Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday.
"We know the employers are going to resist with everything they
have," Vavi told Sapa, following earlier comments that 2011 would see
"the mother of all battles" against labour brokers.
He said his call for a ban on broking should not be seen as a
challenge to the labour department and proposed new labour legislation
published for public comment last week that stops short of an outright
"No, not at all. We have not said that the amendments don't
adequately protect workers. We have not rejected it. We must still study
"We must make sure that there are no loopholes," Vavi said.
The labour relations amendment bill recalls Section 198 of the
original act, which the department said created confusion that was
exploited by labour brokers.
The public employment service bill takes the matter further by
banning temporary employment agencies from being the employers of the
workers they recruit and place with third party companies.
Thembinkosi Mkalipi, the labour department's chief director of labour
relations, said the new legislation stated clearly that the company was
the primary employer and bore the normal obligations regarding wages
and other conditions of employment.
He said it was "not really", as some commentators have suggested, a
ban on labour broking but rather a concerted bid to regulate recruitment
"It creates a new definition of employer. The definition restricts
labour brokers to placement. There is really not a difference (between
broking and placement) at all. Some brokers only do placement. It is one
and the same thing."
Illustrating how the bill intends to regulate the three-way
relationship created by placement, he said: "The SABC (for example) can
have workers from a placement agency, they cannot have the placement
agency be the employer of those workers."
Vavi set out a position similar to that of the department, saying he
had no objection to properly regulated temporary employment placement.
"Temporary employment will always be part of the economy. We are not
fighting against employers who for their own organisational reasons need
temporary labour, those on farms, in the manufacturing industry.
"Even in the unions, if somebody is on maternity leave, we need to
find a replacement. So we are not opposed to placement agencies, but we
are saying that is where it should end.
Changes may hamper job creation
"What we have a problem with is where somebody is in temporary
employment for 20 years and we have not regulated the relationship
between the worker and the person who has employed him from the boot of a
car," Vavi said.
The new labour bills - four in total - are widely expected to
encounter strong opposition and Mkalipi conceded that it would likely be
many months before they are tabled in parliament.
Analysts have said a provision creating the presumption that any job
is permanent unless the employer can motivate why it should not be,
bucked international labour trends and would hamper job creation.
And the Confederation of Associations in the Private Employment
Sector is reportedly ready to challenge the law all the way to the
Mkalipi said: "We don't think it is true that we are discouraging
people from hiring workers. They create jobs because there is a need for
labour. It is not as though people create jobs to do labour a favour."
He said the department expected the first negotiations at the
National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) around the
bills to take place on January 20.