/ 27 March 2012

Busa disapproves of amendments to employment Bills

The amended Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment Bills could damage business in South Africa, Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said on Tuesday.

“The areas of disagreement currently contained in the Bills … compromise existing jobs and pose considerable risks to further job creation, business and the economy,” Busa social policy executive director Vanessa Phala told reporters in Johannesburg.

“Business believes that in their current format, the bills are onerous and punitive and will have a negative impact on business … We are also concerned that these amendments will limit the employer’s ability to adjust and adapt consistently to changing market conditions.”

Busa negotiator Tanya Cohen said businesses were concerned about the “equal treatment” provision in the Labour Relations Bill.

“It essentially says that all workers, be they temporary or permanent, have to be paid at the same rate of pay. This is something that is not found worldwide — it is often regarded as discriminatory.”

Other concerns
Cohen said Busa was also concerned that the temporary employment threshold was “too short”.

In the amended Bills, temporary employment cannot exceed six months.

Cohen said this timeframe was not reasonable, considering that construction workers needed more than six months to complete a project.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant submitted the amendment Bills to Cabinet on March 14. The submission was approved on March 20.

“We would like government to first conduct a regulatory impact assessment in order to understand the potential impact of these changes on the economy, as well as alignment to national development goals,” said Cohen. — Sapa