EMERGING BUSINESS FRONT
SUBMISSION TO THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON LABOUR
BASIC CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT BILL
Points to ponder Large businesses are shedding jobs world-wide because of mechanisation which small businesses do not have the capital to do
According to the Centre for Statistical studies 71 000 jobs were lost in the formal sector of the economy last year.
According to Labour Minister Tito Mboweni the unemployment rate in South Africa is estimated to be anything from 16% to 30%.
GEAR recognises that South Africa desperately needs both local and foreign investment to accelerate growth, employment and redistribution.
South Africa is one of several markets that foreign investors are looking at and industrial relations legislation that is too complex is not conducive to attracting foreign investment - at the same time it does not stimulate local investment especially not labour-intensive investment.
Small businesses in the USA, for example, have created a large number of jobs during the past decade - to the point where the unemployment rate is the lowest in many years - there is a large numbers of people lose or change their jobs but the net effect is gains in jobs.
The provisions as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill will impact very negatively on employment in the country - existing jobs will be destroyed and jobs that would have been created will not see the light of day. The Bill will hurt the very people it is supposed to help - because the cost of employing women will rise employers will be reluctant to employ them and less women will be employed -especially young women who may qualify for pregnancy benefits.
THE EMERGING BUSINESS FRONT
The Emerging Business Front ("EBF") was formed by a group of involved employer associations and organisations who have a direct interest in the business future in Southern Africa.
1. The EBF have met on a urgent basis in order to debate the forthcoming Basic Conditions of Employment Bill 1997.
2. The Government is poised to debate this Bill and on an urgent basis the EBF have the following comments inter alia:
2.1 Ad Section 9. An exemption is requested from the overtime provisions. It is suggested that the Management and the Employees have a separate agreement at each and every business in order to debate the maximum amount of overtime. It should be read in conjunction with the circumstances needed by micro and small business.
2.2 Ad Section 10. It is suggested that the maximum hours be left to the SMME in agreement with the staff to decide as to when the maximum amount of hours may be used. It is suggested that a specific Commission be set up with the Minister in order to carefully peruse the situation as is needed within micro business. Micro business have called for a maximum of 50 working hours per week before overtime.
2. 3 Ad Section 11. It is suggested that the referral to "collective agreements"' be changed to any agreements. The reasons for this suggestion has been that micro business are normally not organised and certainly do not have their staff belonging to Unions. Therefore it would be necessary to have agreement directly between the staff and management.
2.4 Ad Section 16. There should be no distinction between night and day work and micro business have called for a complete exemption. The reason for this exemption can be easily explained in that micro business have to compete with large business and often have to perform their tasks on an urgent basis in order to obtain the orders or sales, as the case may be.
2.5 Ad Section 17. Once again, micro business have called for an exemption from double pay on public holidays. Unlike large business, micro business have to conduct their business whenever they obtain same.
2.6 Ad Section 18. These exclusions would have to be made in consultation with the Minster and small business.
2.7 Ad Section 12. These regulations would have to be made only after consultation and in consultation with the Minister and a special task force which has representation from small business The Minister may only make regulations after consultation with this task force and the case of small business can be equally put forward to the Minister.
2.8 Ad Section 13. Small business specifically requests that the 30 minute lunch hour after every 5 hours, work be specifically debated between employees and employers. In numerous cases employees choose to have their "off time" at the end of the business day.
2.9 Ad Section 14. Small business have asked for an exemption and have requested that this be debated directly between the employees and the employers.
2.10 Ad Section 22. The sick leave cycle should be kept as is in the current Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
2.11 Ad Section 27. It is suggested by the EBF that if it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to give alternative employment and the employee cannot cope with the current employment circumstances that it is suggested that the employee be retrenched due to operational requirements.
2.12 Ad Section 28. An employee may be entitled to the family responsibility leave further to any agreement entered into at the time of the necessity for the family responsibility leave.
It should be noted that each and every concession given and changed suggested in the basic Conditions of Employment Bill amounts to a further cost to running of the business. In particular it is requested that the Minister allow the exemptions requested for micro business in order to enable micro business to survive and create further employment. A document will be drawn up in due course with the full motivation for each and every request enclosed herein.
MICHAEL BAGRAIM for and on behalf of THE EMERGING BUSINESS FRONT