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South Africa – Restrictions on staffing firms opposed

13 June 2013

The South African Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SACCI) has warned that amendments to the labour bill, including changes to temporary employment services, could have a negative impact on the economy.

The parliamentary labour portfolio committee met this week to discuss the labour bill, with the African National Congress (ANC) party saying the committee had voted in principle to restrict the use of labour brokers (staffing agencies) by employees to three month assignments, from currently six months. The party had previously proposed a total ban on labour brokers.

“We think if someone is in temporary employment beyond three months it becomes clear that there is a need for that person on a full time basis by the client,” said ANP MP, Buti Manamela. The actual vote will take place next week and if agreed, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant will specify to which industries it applies.

“We are targeting and protecting the most vulnerable of people... mainly farmworkers, mineworkers, and domestic workers. Those people are the people we are trying to protect, not just their jobs, but the quality of their jobs,” said Mr Manamela.

SACCI said changes to the bill have “the potential to exacerbate the negative impression of South Africa as a desired investment destination and trading partner. This is particularly so at a time when the country is experiencing poor economic growth, a low level of business confidence... a volatile exchange rate, and overall deteriorating global perceptions of the country.”

Meanwhile the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) party said restrictions on labour brokers was threatening job creation in South Africa and damage flexibility. A spokesperson said that “employers will, therefore, rather not employ anybody than to allow temporary workers becoming permanent workers.” The FF+ wants to retain the six-month period.

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