Labour laws should be reworked, says DA

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has welcomed the National Planning Commission’s acknowledgement of the “unintended negative consequences” that South Africa’s strict labour laws have had on the country’s levels of unemployment.

The official apposition party issued a statement on Friday, a day after National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel unveiled the National Planning Commission’s first report, entitled “Diagnostic Overview”, giving an update on the state of the country since the first democratic elections in 1994.

DA shadow deputy labour minister George Boinamo said his party had, for several years, been suggesting that the implications of strict labour regulation were contributing to the country’s serious unemployment problem.

“While the DA recognises the importance of protecting worker’s basic rights, it also believes that our country’s labour legislation needs to undergo certain reforms to stimulate economic growth and job creation, thereby helping to tackle high levels of unemployment,” he said.

Boinamo said that as a first step, the National Planning Commission should advise President Jacob Zuma’s administration to scrap the labour laws currently being considered by Parliament.

He said these laws sought to further tighten regulations, and in the process exacerbated the “unintended negative consequences” to which the National Planning Commission referred.

Secondly, the National Planning Commission should seriously consider the labour reforms proposed by the DA, which included cutting red tape, and making the hiring of employees easier and more cost-effective.

“Coupled with the appropriate interventions to stimulate employment—such as the DA’s wage subsidy proposal or Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s jobs grant—significant employment growth becomes much more achievable,” Boinamo said.

The DA will be advocating for these reforms during the period of public consultation that will follow the presentation made to Parliament yesterday by Manuel.

“Having identified the ‘unintended negative consequences’ of existing labour legislation, the DA hopes that the commission will now consider in earnest ways to address this state of affairs,” Boinamo said.

He went on to say that, given the political influence wielded by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), who oppose such reforms despite the negative implications for employment creation, this will be an important litmus test of the commission’s power, and Zuma’s administration’s commitment to placing the needs of SA’s people above internal alliance politics.—I-Net Bridge

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