Stupidity of labour laws is behind the recent unrest

The laws pertaining to empowerment remains in place, yet it is clearly a form of reverse discrimination. The inability to review these laws is going to cost the economy dearly over the long & short term as highly skilled and qualified whites seeks a living somewhere else. Read further…

The cases of apparent reverse discrimination at Woolworths and SAA, which are not appointing whites, particularly white men, to jobs like tellers and pilots, have heated up the middle-class climate. While Marikana and the platinum mining sector continue to burn, this only affects the working class and the mine owners directly, but the other two issues cut to the core of middle-class values.

These political troubles in the economy, first in mining, then retail and transport, are tied to our stupidly rigid laws. They relate directly to the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act and its associated silly codes of “good” practice and a labour relations regime that gives majority unions too much power and shuts out smaller – and in Marikana’s case – more violent and undisciplined unions, like the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). Effectively the mine owners were obliged to marginalise Amcu.

The law thus forces these emergent unions to throw their proverbial toys out of their cots. On top of that, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu claimed never to have heard of the troublesome union until the Marikana woes started. This is way too late for someone in political charge of our mineral resources. Trade union competition in the mines between “kosher” Cosatu unions – allied to the ruling party – and politically un-kosher ones like Amcu, adds a dimension to our politics.

Julius Malema is now tapping into worker resentment, building up a power base outside the ANC. He is successfully turning Marikana and Grootvlei – where Mandela and Zuma family members impoverished the miners – into political minefields. They have already become no-go areas for the ANC, like many parts of KwaZulu-Natal were when the Inkatha Freedom Party held sway 20 years ago.

The national government has fumbled its way for weeks, dithering over what ameliorating steps to take to prevent spillovers across the platinum sector and beyond. They stopped dithering only when ministers were chased away from memorial services for the Marikana dead. They rapidly found their wobbly legs, and fled.

Now there are calls for President Jacob Zuma to directly negotiate with the Marikana workers. It seems the only option now, but he will not do it as it will lose face not only for him, but his entire government.

In the wake of the employment equity commission report this week, headlines screamed: “Western Cape fails equity test”. One journalist reported the seemingly paltry transformation figures, noting that the opposition-ruled province was supposedly proud of its good governance record.

The stories failed to contextualise the job equity provisions.

Companies must comply with the national demographics of black, white, coloured and Indian in a province where coloureds are the majority and whites number about the same as black Africans.

It is no surprise that whites still dominate top management, in the province and beyond. If one is trained as an accountant or an engineer, it is not likely that one is going to grovel at the lower end of the feeding chain. But our law makes it a sin to be white and male.

Former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni, the architect of the equity regime as labour minister, says it was never the law’s intention to shut out white talent. If only the government would listen before we drive desperate whites who can’t get jobs out of the country.

Woolworths is correct that it was only trying to comply with the law.

More at … Stupidity of labour laws is behind the recent unrest – Business News | IOL Business |

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