Government looking at new ‘job protection’ policies for South Africa
BUSINESS TECH / 12 MAY 2020 - 17.33 / STAFF REPORTER
As South Africa’s economy continues to feel the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdown, there have been growing calls for the introduction of government policies which help protect jobs.
A recent survey by McKinsey & Company found that 60% of South Africans said they have experienced a loss of income during the crisis and expect to cut back aggressively on spending in all categories except groceries and home entertainment.
Responding in a recent parliamentary Q&A, Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi said that government currently has no plans to introduce specific legislation to protect jobs impacted by the coronavirus – but would instead introduce a broader policy which will address the issue.
“There is currently no intention to introduce a jobs protection bill. The department is however in the process of developing a national employment policy that would, amongst others, address the notion of protection of jobs.
“This policy will have to be presented to parliament when it is done,” Nxesi said.
While government has not provided a time frame for the introduction of this new policy, it has indicated that it will introduce new legislation changes around issues such as foreign workers and BEE within the coming year.
Presenting the department’s annual strategic plan to parliament on Thursday (7 May), employment and labour director-general Thobile Lamati said government will now push for at least a 2% annual increase in the representation of black Africans in senior and middle-manager levels.
He added that the Department of Labour plans to set sector targets to bring this to at least 50% within the next five years (2024).
Lamati said that the department also plans to amend the existing Employment Equity Act to help it meet these transformation targets within the same time frame.
In the same meeting, Nxesi said that the department is looking to formalise a new employment policy which will restrict the number of foreign nationals working in specific sectors of the economy.
“For some reason, employers have preferred foreign nationals over South Africans. Some of the reasons in other sectors has to do with skills but even that is regulated,” he said.
“Sometimes it is because it is cheap labour that they can easily exploit. You can’t sit with millions of unemployed South Africans and in certain sectors employ foreign without regulations.
“We must introduce those quotas and (stick to them) ‘very hard’. In doing that we must not be seen to be xenophobic or violating international conventions, but at the same time protect our national interests. So it is going to be a balancing act.”
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER