Business owners should prepare for increased labour disputes from their temporary, contract and part-time workers as the biggest changes with South African labour laws since the late nineties head for Parliament.
Adapted from an article in the Mail&Guardian:
THE South African workplace, already one of the most litigious in the world, is about to become more so as the new set of labour-broker rules, pregnant with unintended consequences, emerges from Nedlac and heads for parliament.
Labour law experts and practitioners agree that while the trade-union federation Cosatu may have lost its fiery bid for an outright ban on labour brokers in South Africa, the battle will disperse to the workplace, where thousands of temporary, contract and part-time workers will latch on to concessions made in the new rules to push employers for permanence and better pay.
Even before it reaches Parliament, the bill containing amendments to the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act will almost certainly be strengthened in favour of Cosatu – and to the further detriment of employers. Cosatu is now politically so powerful that it has ditched negotiations at Nedlac (where government, business and labour give input) in favour of wringing concessions directly from its governing alliance partner the ANC.
So the exact impact of the bill cannot be predicted at this stage, but experts are certain of two results: first, more employers will mechanise as they perceive employment becoming even more inflexible and costly, and second, workplace litigation at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and bargaining councils will increase.
This will bring even more pressure to bear on the CCMA, already creaking under an eye-popping caseload of close to 160 000 per year, as one of the quietest sectors of the workforce turns to the tribunal with expectations raised by the new amendments.