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ILO: SA labour laws aren't fuelling unemployment

Sapa

The International Labour Organisation believes labour market regulations are not too rigid in South Africa and cannot be blamed for high unemployment.

ILO South African director Vic van Vuuren attributed unemployment to fragile economic conditions, skills mismatches and problems with education. (Gallo)

According to Business Day, in an interview last week, ILO South African director Vic van Vuuren attributed unemployment to fragile economic conditions, skills mismatches and problems with education.

He was speaking after the African Development Bank claimed that labour regulations were "excessively rigid" and contributed to youth unemployment.

South Africa's unemployment rate is almost 25%, which equated to almost 4.5-million people out of work.

Van Vuuren said: "When we look at our labour laws and we analyse them and compare them to other best-practice countries, I don't think we have a rigid labour market that is preventing youth employment or employment in general".

The newspaper reported that Adcorp labour analyst Loane Sharp disagreed, and said the World Economic Forum rated South Africa's labour regulation as one of the world's worst.

Amendment Bills to the Labour Relations and the Basic Conditions of Employment Acts are being considered by Parliament's portfolio committee on labour. Deliberations are expected to end later this month.

Contested proposals
"They're adding more regulation and what we need is less regulation ... [The amendments] are even more restrictive than the Labour Relations Act of the mid-1990s," Sharp said.

The most contested proposals include the equal treatment of temporary and permanent workers, the extension of picketing rights to unrelated third parties and that temporary workers might be able to sue for unfair dismissal due to an expectation of contract renewal or permanent employment.

Should the amendments go through, the labour minister would have more power in the determination of workers' salaries and even be able to regulate the use of sub-contracting, labour brokering and outsourcing.

The committee heard last month that some of the proposed amendments could impose further costs on business to employ workers and increase the rigidity in the market for temporary employment services.

According to Business Day, Business Unity South Africa claimed the amendments, which could grant temporary workers equal rights to permanent staff, could lead to 215 150 job losses. – Sapa

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