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South Africa – MPs call for labour broking ban

06 June 2013

African National Congress (ANC) MPs on Wednesday proposed a ban on labour brokers, which they claim has led to the exploitation of workers. According to the Business Times, the ANC MPs have expressed a strong opposition against the practice of labour broking, or otherwise known as temporary staffing.

The MPs have proposed that the duration of temporary employment services should be limited to “zero months,” meaning a complete ban on labour broking. Currently, labour brokers can operate for the first six months of an employment contract before workers become permanently employed. The proposal would oppose parts of the Labour Relations Amendments Bill.

Elleck Nchabeleng from the ANC said most ANC members favour limiting the six-month period to “zero months”. "We are concerned about the exploitation of workers,” he said. After placing a worker in employment, the labour broker should have no further role and the worker should be paid at the same rate as permanent workers, he argued.

Labour expert Andrew Levy was shocked by the proposals. “I don’t believe it. This is utterly beyond belief. What it means is that there has not been one single lesson learned from Marikana or from the high levels of unemployment,” he said. He warned of widespread job losses if employers are no longer able to use labour brokers with strikes likely to become more frequent and violent.

But critics said that banning labour broking could be constitutionally challenged by businesses.

The influential trade union COSATU has repeatedly called for a ban on labour broking and is condemning the use of staffing services in South Africa. The union was behind mass strikes last year against labour brokers. It has demanded the government to outlaw the practice of labour broking, which it likens to slavery. 

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