Labour broking bill on hold

2010-03-09 16:57

Cape Town - Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana on Tuesday said a draft bill on labour broking would be delayed until Parliament had made recommendations on whether it wanted to ban or regulate the practice.

Labour spokesperson Mzobanzi Jikazana said the bill must be informed by the recommendations of Parliament's portfolio committee on labour which will meet again later this month.

"I don't know whether they want to ban or regulate it. They have to come out and adopt a position."

The bill would have had to be tabled last week in order to be passed by spring. To become law before year's end, it would have to be tabled by mid July.

Mdladlana had hoped to introduce amendments to current labour legislation by April.

But the minister said on Tuesday that drafting a bill before the end of the parliamentary process on the subject, which included extensive pubic hearings, would make a mockery of the legislature's involvement.

"No bill could be drafted or tabled before parliamentary processes on the matter are finalised" he said.

Unions call for ban

"Parliament has yet to finalise its decision on the matter. Drafting the bill before the finalisation of this process would be tantamount to making a fuss of the public hearings or making a mockery of our Parliament."

The minister said another reason for the delay was the need to deal with the fact that "labour is not defined in any of our labour laws, and therefore it is a problem that has to be addressed".

Mdladlana's statement came after the director general of labour Jimmy Manyi angered the committee last month by saying he had signed off on a new draft of the Labour Relations Act.

MPs protested that this undermined the parliamentary process. Jikazana said a recommendation could emerge from the committee at its next full sitting on March 23.

On Tuesday, a subcommittee was formed to draft recommendations to the labour department on amending the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act to deal with the issue.

Democratic Alliance MP Ian Ollis said it was striking that in Tuesday's meeting ANC members of the committee had completely dropped references to a total ban on labour broking, and were instead talking about regulation.

"There is a coming together of the warring parties."

Trade unions called for a total ban of labour broking, which generates temporary work for some half-a-million people every year, but is seen as leading to wide-scale exploitation. Business and the opposition have called for greater regulation of the practice instead to curb abuses.

- Sapa