No labour broking ban for April

Audra Mahlong
By Audra Mahlong, senior journalist
Johannesburg, 03 Mar 2010

The labour minister's hopes of introducing changes to either regulate or ban labour broking by April will be derailed, as discussions on the possible amendments drag on.

Labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana previously stated he would push to have the amendments introduced by April 2010.

However, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Labour is still discussing submissions it received during heated public hearings held last year.

While the committee had only planned two hearings in August, the hearings were extended, with Parliament saying more views on the proposed changes were needed.

According to Parliament's programme, the deadline for the submission of legislation for introduction in 2010 is 5 March for Bills that have to be passed by 27 August. For Bills that have to be passed by Parliament by 26 November, the deadline is 19 July.

The Department of Labour (DOL) is proposing amendments to several Acts, which all fall under the Labour Relations Act. The new amendments would either effectively abolish labour broking, or increase regulation of all temporary employment services.

While the DOL previously stated it welcomed input from stakeholders, it also noted that changes would no longer be delayed and amendments would be passed on time.

Mass action

Submissions by the department point to increased regulation; a change in the flexible nature of temporary employment services; and concrete definitions of employer, employee and temporary employment services, as some changes to the legislation are expected when the amendments are introduced.

The department has also indicated that some sectors could either be exempt from legislation, or only be subject to specific clauses in the labour legislation. Outsourcing was one sector which has been identified and is expected to benefit from specialised clauses - but this can only be confirmed when final changes are introduced.

Meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it is eagerly awaiting the amendment Bill. The union federation previously condemned temporary employment service providers, saying they flouted workers' rights.

Cosatu previously threatened mass strikes in 2010 if labour broking wasn't banned and helped smaller protests to promote its call for a widespread ban last year.