Labour brokers here to stay

The constant debate surrounding labour brokers is starting to find shape. The immense size of the industry as well as the integration into the workforce of South Africa makes it to complex to just be dismissed. Here is a article from IOL news recently on the subject. This emerged during public submissions to the portfolio committee on labour on proposed amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour.




Labour brokers are here to stay, but face far tougher regulations. This emerged during public submissions to the portfolio committee on labour on proposed amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.

During Cosatu’s highly anticipated submission to the committee yesterday, its parliamentary co-ordinator, Prakashnee Govender, told MPs the union federation had failed to convince the ANC that labour brokers should be banned.

Despite the main roleplayers – government, labour and business – having participated in protracted negotiations on the amendments at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), the ANC and Cosatu have continued to hold bilateral discussions on the matter – a move criticised by business and opposition parties alike.

Govender conceded yesterday that Cosatu had failed to secure a promise of an “outright ban” from the governing party.

“In relation to labour broking, we were not successful in getting an agreement for a complete and full ban,” she said.

But the ANC had agreed to “address residual contractual issues between the broker and the true employer”.

Cosatu distinguishes between temporary employment services, which provide companies with temporary workers to fill in for absent employees, and labour brokers, who provide a pool of full-time workers for companies – a practice the federation has branded “modern-day slavery”.

The union federation has argued that labour broking has allowed the brokers and the companies they serve – or clients – to escape their labour relations responsibilities, particularly with respect to provisions in the law for equal treatment.

Having failed to achieve a ban on labour brokers, Cosatu argued yesterday that the amendment bills should ensure that the “real employer” – the client company – assumed “full employer responsibility for a worker where this involves work which is not temporary in nature”.

Cosatu raised strong objections to a proposal that unions be required to ballot their members – and obtain majority support – before embarking on industrial action.

“It should be noted that balloting requirements were a distinct feature of the apartheid labour legislative regime. Its absence in the current Labour Relations Act was no oversight, but rather an acknowledgement of the extensive abuse of technicalities by employers around balloting to prevent industrial action,” said Govender.

The Cosatu submission argues that such an amendment would constitute a “fundamental attack not only on the right to strike but also on collective bargaining” and that, in practice, it would amount to a “notional restriction” on industrial action.

Cosatu also opposed proposals that unions be held liable for damage caused during strikes, arguing it was impossible to prove that such damage was caused by union members and not by “agents provocateurs” sent in by employers to discredit the union. Govender argued this was purely a “law and order” issue and should not be included in labour legislation.

Another proposed amendment would limit participation in pickets and strikes to members of the affected union and would empower the Labour Court to suspend a picket or strike if the agreed picketing rules were breached by union members.

Cosatu welcomed a provision that would allow pickets to be held on third party property.

Earlier, trade union Solidarity – one of only a few recognised unions not affiliated to Cosatu – expressed support for the government’s stated intention of preventing employee abuse, but warned that the “cumulative effect” of proposed legislative changes was unclear.

The union joined many other presenters over the past two weeks in calling for a fresh assessment of the potential effects of the draft amendments, particularly on job creation.

Commenting on proposed changes to picketing and strike rules, Solidarity’s head of research, Johan Kruger, said the union recognised a “careful balance needs to be struck between the constitutionally enshrined right to strike and the adverse effect that strikes have had on the country’s economy in the recent past”. – Deon de Lange

via ‘Labour brokers here to stay’ – IOL News |


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