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LETTER: Jobs report not taken up by department


The labour department seems to have ignored a report on policy drawn up by a high-level panel

As we all know, SA has one of the worst unemployment rates in the world. The fourth democratic parliament resolved that the fifth democratic parliament would assess the impact of legislation passed since 1994.This has been done, and one of the areas looked into was unemployment.

One of the factors assessed was the possible unintended consequences and unanticipated problems with post-apartheid legislation. The high-level panel based its assessment on the statistics of 2016, yet today we have 15.5-million economically inactive adults in SA. We also note that in the first quarter of 2018 only 12% of the population aged 15 to 24 years was employed.

Interestingly and alarmingly, the report asserts that the unemployment problem is compounded by the government’s labour policy choices. These choices include wage-setting policies such as the national minimum wage, which has been processed by parliament. To quote: “the report cautions that while these policies were espoused with good intentions, in the long run they tend to push employers to economise on the use of labour, especially unskilled labour”.

The panel made recommendations that will probably never be implemented. These include:

  • That the time to register a new business should be reduced, including getting appropriate permits;

  • Enterprises below a certain size in terms of employees be exempted from certain regulations, including the obligation to pay the minimum wage and specific components of BEE legislation;

  • That people below a certain age who are unemployed should be treated separately. The panel recommended the setting of a separate wage for the vulnerable in the labour market;

  • That Section 32 of the Labour Relations Act be removed. This deals with the extension of collective agreements and bargaining councils to non-parties. It also recommended that these extensions not be applicable to small and medium enterprises.

The labour department received the recommendations, and although they had answers to many of the questions raised, none was in agreement with the panel. In essence, the department merely referred to the exemption procedure in the regulations for the national minimum wage, which is a sham.

Michael Bagraim - DA shadow labour minister



Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER

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