In Business Unity South Africa’s (Busa), submission today to the Portfolio Committee on Labour on amendments to introduce provisions to enhance labour relations stability and the implementation of National Minimum Wage (NMW), Busa has added its support to the laws, but said that the risks to employment and business, particularly smaller and emerging businesses must be carefully managed.
Labour Relations Amendments
Busa stood behind the provisions contained in the Labour Relations Amendment Bill that reflected a delicate package of compromises arising out of the NEDLAC negotiations.
Key provisions in this regard include: compulsory default picketing rules for all industrial action; making the requirement for a secret ballot explicit; and the introduction of advisory arbitration aimed at resolving prolonged or violent strikes. Busa stated that the advisory arbitration provisions provided the opportunity for the CCMA to engage with parties with the aim of securing agreed resolution to industrial action that undermined Constitutional rights or created an acute local or national crisis.
“The labour relations stability amendments include provisions that have the potential to change fundamentally the tone of labour relations and build a mutually respectful, job rich, productive and competitive economy, thereby enhancing the Constitutional right to fair labour practices and putting us on the path of social and economic prosperity”, stated Busa CEO Tanya Cohen, who was also lead technical negotiator for business in the NEDLAC negotiations on labour relations stability and wage inequality.
National Minimum Wage
In relation to the NMW amendments, Busa stated that while the level was considerably higher than an economically efficient level, it recognised the need for South Africa to address wage inequality and for the most vulnerable workers to be protected. Busa highlighted that the hourly rate of R20/hour had to be implemented with the agreed phase in periods for domestic workers and agricultural workers; as well as a fully functional exemption system without limitations for those employers that could not afford the NMW.
Busa expressed particular concern that the exemption system should operate efficiently and be accessible for businesses regardless of size. It also emphasised the importance of ensuring that adjustments to the NMW were affordable and did not inadvertently act as a deterrent to employment, growth and transformation of the economy. Busa stated that the NMW Commission would need to mitigate the risks of job loss, closures or technological substitution through ongoing evaluation of the impact of the NMW in a changing world of work.
“We want to encourage all businesses, regardless of size to comply with the NMW and to do that, requires confidence in the setting and administration of the NMW. An efficient and accessible exemption system, with quick turnaround times, supported by strong institutional capacity in the Department of Labour and the CCMA is crucial,” stated Cohen.
Notwithstanding the concerns, Busa stated that it remains committed to the NEDLAC agreements having been a party thereto and contends that it is important to maintain the delicate and interrelated package of compromises that have been reached by the NEDLAC constituencies.
Issued by Busa