LABOUR: Good And Bad Of Labour Brokers
Recent Western Cape Business News
THERE Is danger that the whole issue of labour brokers could be seen in terms of ideology rather than the needs of the country and the workforce says Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“It is important to understand that we live in a complex world where specialist skills are essential but highly mobile. The demand for these skills also varies and we need a good method to manage these resources effectively so we can match the supply and demand for skilled employees. Labour brokers try to do that and if they were not there we would have to find another way.”
He said a modern economy inevitably had its ups and downs as contracts began and ended and it made much more sense to move staff on to other projects rather than to hire and retrench. It also ensured that the most productive use was made of skilled people.
“In some cases the need for temporary workers has been created by our enlightened labour legislation. In the bad old days women were forced to resign when they became pregnant but now we have good maternity leave provisions. Unfortunately this means that businesses have to use agencies to supply temporary staff,” Bagraim said.
The other side of the coin was that temporary, part-time or contract work was great boon to many who were not available for full time employment because of family or other commitments.
It was often necessary to close down modern industrial plants for maintenance work and it made sense to use extra workers during this period to limit down-time. The extra workers could then move on to the next project.
Bagraim said temporary workers often found permanent jobs when they impressed employers. “Temporary work has proved to be a good way to get experience and develop skills. It can be a very rewarding for both workers and employers.”
He said there was no doubt that there had been abuses in the labour broking industry but the aim should be to eliminate the abuses and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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