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are suffering the enormous consequences of a harsh and bitterly cold labour environment
in South Africa. Already
9.3 million people who are looking for jobs can’t find any. Over 60% of our
youth are unemployed. And our government is in the process of making conditions
even more unbearable.
I were the Labour Minister, I would carefully rethink the entire labour policy,
especially on small businesses. A good start would be to encourage
businesses in townships to start employing neighbours, friends and
colleagues. The easiest way to do this would be to create economic zones
within each township and to have a deregulated environment, effectively
absolving small black business in the townships from the Labour Relations
Act. Obviously, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act would still apply
as safety and security is a vital right of each employee.
politics could be a major boon for the economy, as most of the business
community are not interested in politics, but are looking for a stable atmosphere
that is conducive to development.
there are some businesses who do well in a shaky economy and who thrive on
economic risk, the majority of small businesses merely want a situation where
there is no interference and very little regulation.
Yet the Minister of Labour insists on stricter and
harsher regulations for almost every sphere of the employment
relationship. These regulations not only act as a handbrake to job
creation, but also lead to enormous expense when an employee decides to
challenge a dismissal or any other type of industrial relations action.
very fact that we are discussing a national minimum wage shows the recklessness
of the system. Our Treasury has said, conservatively, that a national
minimum wage would create a further loss of 700,000 jobs. We also know
that the business community has gone on an investment strike and that the
majority of their profits are being invested elsewhere.
are voting with their feet. They are refusing to invest monies into their own
businesses, which would in turn create more jobs. The only businesses that
are investing in South
Africa today are those that are mechanising,
resulting in jobless growth.
Obviously, the fewer labour laws and the less
regulatory authority, the better the system will be. We all know and
understand that we want to avoid the environment that was created by the
apartheid system. We also want to avoid “sweat shops” and unhealthy situations
in the workplace. The bottom line should be the proper implementation of
the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, but a complete deregulation of many of
the systems contained in the Labour Relations Act.
The hiring and firing mechanisms should be completely
loosened. We should enable businesses to dismiss more freely when it comes
to productivity and issues like non-performance, theft and absenteeism etc.
We all understand that small businesses are the engine
room of jobs growth. However, small businesses can’t access the expertise and
knowledge that their larger counterparts do.
businesses do not have the resources, time and funds to develop human resource
departments or to access industrial relations practitioners and lawyers. In
my experience, a small business would rather not employ if it meant having to
adhere to the plethora of labour laws and regulations that exist in the wintery
climate created by the legislature.
themselves obviously are aware of the urgent need to create
jobs. If the sentiment from government indicated in any way that
it wanted to support businesses, and in particular small businesses, there
would be a radical swing around.
markets at the moment are fickle and each piece of bad news merely reinforces
the negative business sentiment. We have recently seen how the Chinese
economy has been able to create 10 million new jobs in just 10 months. Business
sentiment in China
is robust, active and forward-looking. Exactly the opposite of what we
have experienced in South
-By Michael Bagraim, DA MP and Shadow Minister of Labour.
This article does not necessarily reflect the views of TMTV. Image credits: africanbusinessreview.co.za, parliament.gov.za