Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  14 Mar 2011

CONSTRUCTION: Builders Object To Labour Legislation Bill


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The Building Industry Bargaining Council (Cape of Good Hope) has issued a notice of objection regarding a number of proposed amendments to the Labour Legislation Bill. “We are specifically concerned by proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act regarding the use of fixed term or short-term contracts, as we fear the negative consequence that such changes could have on the building industry,” said Arnold Williams, Secretary for Building Industry Bargaining Council (Cape of Good Hope).

The BIBC’s concerns focus on the proposed amendments that are aimed to prevent the practice of repeated contracting for short term periods. “Whilst this may benefit some industries, it most certainly will not be viable in the building industry considering that the majority of the work is project based and often also affected by weather conditions,” explained Williams. The objection explains that the onus of administration and costs will be on the employers to justify the use of these contracts as to why the contracting employees cannot be employed on a permanent basis. The council is also alarmed that the proposed amendment views a dismissal if the employer fails to permanently appoint an employee engaged under a fix term contract. The council believes that this approach will severely increase the already heavy workload experienced by bargaining councils’, thereby increasing the cost of dispute resolution.

The amendments will mean that employers won’t be able to employ staff temporarily instead of using a Labour Broker. It is for this reason that the council’s objection includes a reminder to the Department of Labour, that the Bargaining Council‘s Collective Agreement holds labour brokers and other contracting parties jointly and severally liable for any breaches of its Collective Agreement. “We in fact have welcomed the decision by the Labour Minister Mildred Olifant, to regulate labour brokers, rather than imposing an outright ban”, added Williams.

The BIBC has also raised objections regarding the proposed changes to the Employment Equity Act Bill, which is calling for equal pay for work of equal value. “It is our opinion that should this amendment be implemented that it has the potential to aggravate rather than alleviate unemployment,” said Williams. He continued saying, “We believe the most important issue facing the economy today is improving conditions to make greater labour absorption possible”.

The clause in question is proposed to deal with unfair discrimination by employers in respect of terms and conditions of employment of employees doing the same work, similar work or work of equal value. Differences in pay and conditions of work between employees performing the same or substantially the same work of equal value will amount to unfair discrimination, unless the employer can show that  differences are fair in relation to experience, skill, responsibility and qualifications. “Imagine the administrative burden and costs as well as the potential challenges,” concluded Williams.

The BIBC (Cape of Good Hope) has furthermore requested an opportunity to reply to comments that may be made by Department of Labour in response to its submissions.

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