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Cosatu admits ANC won labour brokers battle

"In relation to labour broking we were not successful in getting an agreement," the labour federation's parliamentary representative Prakashnee Govender told MPs on Tuesday.

The comment came in public hearings on the Labour Relations Amendment Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill hosted by Parliament's portfolio committee on labour, which saw Cosatu call for a raft of further changes to the Bills.

The Bills are widely seen by business as a disincentive to investment and job creation. Govender said they failed to go far enough towards addressing the exploitative labour market trends and social inequalities spawned by apartheid.

She called for the scrapping of the six-month period mentioned in section 198C of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, after which temporary workers must be given the same benefits as permanent staff.

It would "effectively allow employers to hire and fire employees during the first six months of employment", and in that time the worker will have no recourse to a claim of unfair dismissal.

Cosatu also tackled clauses it said would limit the right to strike and to support labour action, and said here it had (initially) reached an agreement with the ANC, but the party then reneged on it.

Section 64 notably imposes a restriction by forcing unions to ballot members on strikes and obtain a certificate from them to show that they had complied.

Govender termed it "a fundamental attack" on the right to strike and on collective bargaining, as well as a throw-back to the labour regime of the apartheid era.

Cosatu also complained about the way the Bill seeks to deal with determining essential services through a panel, and said it should allow parties to appoint their own members to the panel.

It is concerned essential services are too widely defined in practice and that this has severely limited workers' rights to strike, she said.

The federation furthermore called for the scrapping of section 26 of the Bill, which allows mediation in a labour dispute in the public interest where neither the employers nor the workers had invited it. – Sapa

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