Mdladlana slams labour brokers

2009-05-23 11:08
Johannesburg - New draft laws on labour brokers would probably be tabled within this financial year, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said in Johannesburg yesterday.

"I am almost certain we may have to amend the legislation soon," he said after addressing a meeting of the Motor Transport Workers' Union (MTWU).

"By 2010 we should have a draft at least."

Cosatu wants labour broking banned. The Federation of Trade Unions of SA, to which the MTWU is aligned, wants it regulated.

On its website, the law firm Webber Wentzel said the R26bn labour broking industry has more than 6 000 recruitment centers throughout the country and employs more than 500 000 people a year.

It said Mdladlana voiced his support for the banning of labour broking after it was banned in Namibia last November.

'Value a myth'

It was a "myth" that labour broking added value to economic growth and created jobs, Mdladlana told the MTWU yesterday.

He reiterated his oft-stated contention that "the reality is: labour broking is a form of human trafficking".

Companies sold workers' labour to the highest bidders, while paying them minimum wages and pocketing the difference without making essential deductions for, among other things, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, pensions and tax.

"Is this not criminal activity?" Mdladlana asked.

Brokers and the companies they supplied each tried to dodge their responsibilities, blaming each other for wrongdoings.

"The agenda of labour brokers is? pro-employer and anti-trade union," he said, adding that they were frequently "scab brokers and strike breakers".

"I see labour brokers as a problem, and it's a problem we must work at. We must address this problem and it's a battle that we must fight, and it's a battle that we must win, and now is the time - now or never."

Regarding the legislation, Mdladlana said the only place he had found a definition of "employer" was in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

The act defines an employer as anyone who employs someone, anyone controlling the business of an employer, anyone a worker is "temporarily made available to" by their employer, and the labour broker who pays a worker and provides that worker to a client.

He said the National Economic Development and Labour Council had been reviewing labour legislation - which has been widely criticised as unduly harsh - for the past five years. "Now it is time to announce the results."

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