Andrew Kenny writes in the Business Day (Employment, Apr. 19, 2011), “Between our catastrophic levels of unemployment and the prospect of an economy with full employment stands the impenetrable barrier of our labour laws. These wicked laws are not only throwing millions of our people into the dustbin of joblessness, not only crippling our economy, not only the cause of hideous poverty and humiliation, not only the primary reason for SA being about the most unequal society on the planet but they are a violation of human rights…the right to work.”

Mr. Kenny is correct – there ought to be a fundamental change to the current labour laws. However, given the composition of our ruling party’s alliance, the required change is unlikely to occur. My colleague Eustace Davie has proposed an alternative strategy that will not disturb the job security of the employed and give the unemployed the opportunity to find jobs. He suggests that anyone who has been unemployed for more than six months should be given a two-year exemption from the labour laws and allowed to enter any written agreement with whichever employers they wish. This will give them the freedom to decide for themselves what constitutes “decent work”, and, although this measure will not solve the unemployment problem overnight, it will give back hope, dignity and provide job opportunities to the millions who are currently hopeless.

Author:Jasson Urbach is an economist with the Free Market Foundation.

For text: http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=140677

First published by Business Day

FMF Policy Bulletin/ 19 April 2011
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