Unfriendly labour laws put SA at the bottom of the list

Gauteng MEC for agriculture Nandi Mayethula-Khoza said farmers must identify which labour laws prevent them from creating more jobs on farms.

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This follows the recent launch of the Plan on Labour Intensity in Agriculture in the province where stringent labour laws have been identified as one of the stumbling blocks in creating more employment within the sector. “This is what the farmers are saying, and it is very important for us to listen,” said Mayethula-Khoza.

However, the agriculture employers’ organisation LWO said the proposed amendments to labour laws further discourages job creation. LWO managing director Pieter Breytenbach said Business Unity SA (BUSA) has referred to the amended Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment Bill as being onerous and punitive and said it will have a negative impact on business.

“BUSA also feels that the amendments will limit the employer’s ability to adjust and adapt consistently to changing market conditions,” added Breytenbach. He also said according to the 2011/2012 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) government- and labour-related constraints limit South Africa’s competitiveness.

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In the GCI’s global rankings, SA has dropped to 139 out of 142 countries when it comes to the rigidity of its hiring and firing laws. In terms of flexibility in wages, SA is ranked 138, down from 130. In tensions in labour relations, it dropped from 132 to 138. When it comes to the link between pay and productivity, SA dropped from 112 to 130.

“The conclusion to be drawn from the index is clear, South Africa has one of the world’s most restrictive, regulated and inhospitable labour dispensations in the world,” said Breytenbach. “This is why we are struggling to create jobs and grow our economy.”