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DA: Statement by Ian Ollis, Democratic Alliance Shadow Deputy Minister of Labour, on Cosatu and labour broking (04/03/2010)

4th March 2010

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The threat by Cosatu to "take to the streets" in support of its demand to ban labour brokers is a clear sign that the trade union has no interest in the real concerns of workers and the unemployed - if this had been the case, then Cosatu would have engaged on the topic of labour brokers and how avert abuse at the fringes of the industry. Rather, they continue to demand an outright ban on the industry, which their own research before Parliament has shown would only serve to drive the abuse further underground.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will stand by its assertion that the Director General of the Department of Labour (DoL), Jimmy Manyi, said on 15 February in the Labour Committee that the draft Labour Relations Act, which will affect labour broking, has already been signed by him the previous day and given to the Minister for tabling in Parliament. This is contrary to the statement by the spokesperson for the Department of Labour, Mzobanzi Jikazana that the DoL is still waiting for the parliamentary labour committee to respond to the public hearings. If this was in fact the case, then there would be no Bill to speak of. The reality is that the DoL has instead drafted the Bill without reference to the public hearings.

It is clear that Cosatu is only interested in one thing: increasing their influence in the labour market and securing monthly membership fees. The real concerns of the unemployed and those who do suffer at the hands of rogue labour brokers are not a priority at all to Cosatu.

It is now clear that the Minister of Labour, Membathisi Mdladlana, has been forced by the weight of evidence to do an about-turn on his promise to ban labour brokers. In response to a series of parliamentary questions posed by the DA, nine government departments have admitted to making use of labour brokers, at a cost of R 123 million. This is no surprise, but the reasons given supply overwhelming evidence as to the necessity of labour brokers. The figures also show that they are necessary for the efficient running of government - which poses further questions as to why certain government departments flatly deny making use of their services.

It seems as if the appeasement of Cosatu does have its logical limits - one cannot blindly reject the solid facts and reasonable arguments that show that labour brokers do have a role to play in the labour market.

The DA has put concrete alternative plans on the table for this sector, and will continue to support regulation and reform over an outright ban, regardless of the rabid threats from Cosatu. A clear and considered policy response to the very real problem of abuse is what will improve the lives of those at the fringes, and not a hysterical threat to go on a march somewhere. Threatening to disrupt the economy when one's ignorant demands are not met is not what democracy is about, and it does not serve anything other than the inflated egos of the Cosatu management.

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