to the Department of Labour
re Government Notice 1013 23 October 2015
Labour Relations Act, 1995
Invitation to make representations:
National Bargaining Council for the Hairdressing Cosmetology Beauty and Skincare Industry
NOTICE IN TERMS OF SECTION 32(2) READ WITH SECTION 32(5)(c)
Notice inviting representations from the public in response to the application by the Bargaining Council for the extension to non-parties regarding its Main Collective Agreement which was submitted to the Department of Labour on 27 July 2015
Representations must reach the Department of Labour not later than 21 days
from the date of publication of this Notice
The high price of labour
The high price of labour is the cause of mass unemployment in South Africa. Labour law compliance costs form a shocking percentage of that price. Remove them and employment would increase.
South Africans, accustomed to massive unemployment figures (8.4 million), no longer relate them to living, breathing, human beings who are being prevented from earning a living. People desperate for any job that will allow them to sustain themselves honestly through their own efforts.
Housing 8.4 million people would fill Cape Town (3.4 million), Johannesburg and Soweto (3.7 million), and a large part of Pretoria (1.6 million). Promoters of barriers to entry accuse advocates of real solutions to our unemployment problem of wanting to “exploit” unfortunate people. They suggest that no job is better than a low-paid job that they believe is not “decent”.
What is not a “decent” job to some is a life-saver to others
Everyone wants workers to have ‘decent’ wages, working conditions, hours of work, etc. Dictionary definitions of ‘decent’ include ‘respectable, good enough, tolerable, proper, modest and moderate’. But words have different meanings for different people. For example, a highly qualified university graduate would reject ‘physical labour’ whereas a farm worker or road repairer would not.
Labour unions base the standards for ‘decent jobs’ on the wages, working conditions and other criteria negotiated for their members and written into the country’s laws and regulations. A person long unemployed, would regard money to buy food, clothing, and shelter as their first priority. So long as jobs are tolerable, desperate people will do them.
Unions and non-parties
Union leaders, determined to set the highest standards possible for their members, hammer out the details mainly with large employers, who negotiate with unions rather than individual workers. Workers establish unions and appoint representatives to enter into agreements on their behalf.
But, problems arise when the arrangements between large labour unions and large employers affect non-parties. Union members want the same conditions to apply to everyone in their particular industry to stop non-party firms from out-competing their employers and jeopardising their jobs. Persuading government to extend agreements to non-parties reduces potential competition.
Small business jobs can be destroyed by bargaining council agreements
Small employers, when subjected to terms and conditions to which they have not agreed, can be forced to close down their operations and their employees, who believed that they had ‘decent jobs’, find themselves with no jobs at all. Small employers should have the right to refuse having such agreements foisted on them, especially if their employees support their stance.
Do not blame labour unions and employers for the negative consequences. They may be morally culpable for lobbying for such agreements to be extended to non-parties, but the legal responsibility lies with government who can and should refuse to comply with such requests.
Barriers to entry
Current labour laws and regulations form a veritable ‘brick wall’ between potential employers and the unemployed. Potential employers are not prepared to wade through and bear the costs of all the compliance requirements and face appearing before the CCMA in respect of someone with no skills, no track record, and a probable eroded ‘will-to-work’ approach caused by long-term unemployment.
Because employers risk prosecution, the current labour dispensation prevents unemployed people from applying their conception of what constitutes a ‘decent job’.
Exempt the unemployed from labour laws to save jobs and allow job creation
For years, the FMF has been lobbying for all parties to allow people to make their own decisions about their own lives by exempting the unemployed from elements in the labour laws that cause unemployment, thereby empowering the jobless – giving them full contractual rights over their own employment.
Small firms and individuals would be the most likely employers of the exempted jobless. With no compliance costs and minimum wage requirements these employers would provide a ‘decent job’ with an income, skills training, the promise of a future and the chance to feed and clothe a family. It may not be everybody’s conception of a ‘decent’ job but ‘everybody’ does not know what it is like to be unemployed. A job that a jobless person thinks is ’decent’ is surely better than no job at all.
Director, Free Market Foundation
…and author of Jobs for the Jobless: Special Exemption Certificates for the Unemployed