Quantify effect of labour amendments on jobs – Agri SA

Agri SA has requested that parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Labour carry out a regulatory impact assessment to determine the unintended consequences of amendments to labour legislation on job creation.

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Speaking during public submissions on proposed amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act, Agri SA said the new legislation could negatively affect the sector’s ability to create jobs. Agri SA took issue with a number of amendments, including those which give the Minister of Labour power to decide on wage increases above the minimum wage.

“Agriculture has been identified by the National Planning Commission as one of the sectors that can help with job creation. The trend in South Africa and internationally is towards more atypical employment. Labour legislation needs to be more flexible or it will stifle job creation,” said Elize van der Westhuizen, Agri SA’s manager for human resources.

However, Thulani Khumalo, project manager of the National Council of Trade Unions, said the legislation plays an important role in creating decent work opportunities. “Current labour laws are very flexible. Our understanding of flexibility is that labour laws should make it possible for business to operate without sacrificing workers,” said Khumalo.

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Latest employment figures from Stats SA indicate that, between the first and second quarters of 2012, employment in agriculture decreased by 18 000, from 656 000 to 638 000. At 638 000 jobs, employment year-on-year is 40 000 higher than the figure of 598 000 recorded in the second quarter of 2011.

Even though the official unemployment rate has decreased to 24,9%, it’s extremely worrying that nearly every second South African adult is without work, said SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) president Chose Choeu. The SACCI hopes the final amendments result in a “more pragmatic approach to the protection of worker rights while ensuring a vibrant labour market,” said Choeu.