EXTENSION OF BARGAINING COUNCIL AGREEMENTS
WHEN MONOPOLY CAPITALISTS AND SOCIALISTS CONSPIRE
Proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act (LRA), regarding the extension of agreements, abandon the majoritarianism principle and grants the Minister of Labour ‘superpowers’.
As it is, the LRA, as far as collective bargaining is concerned, is already an oligarchic arrangement – a small group of people (in this case big business) have control over bargaining councils.
When it comes to the extension of agreements to non-parties, as an example, the vote of a business employing 1000 employees has 100 times the voting power of a business employing 10 employees. The voice of SMMEs is deliberately marginalised. It is an undemocratic and unconstitutional arrangement, seriously infringing on the rights of SMMEs and indeed employees who wish not to associate with trade unions.
Now that small business is organised to such an extent that their withholding of support blocks the extension of agreements, unscrupulous big business, trade unions and government is resorting to these drastic measures.
This, however, comes as no surprise. From the outset the system was designed to be discriminatory – in order to preserve bargaining councils. Bargaining councils, by their very nature are designed to protect the interests of big business and trade unions, at the expense of SMMEs.
John Kane-Berman, a policy fellow at the South African Institute of Race Relations, a think-tank promoting political and economic freedom, states the following about bargaining councils:
‘Bargaining councils function as price-fixing cartels, the price being labour. Like all cartels, they seek to eliminate competition. This is illegal in many fields. So too should it be in industrial relations’.
It is for this reason that bargaining councils are specifically excluded from the definition and scope of the Competitions Act.
EXTENSION OF AGREEMENTS BY DECREE
The amendments being envisaged will enable the Minister of Labour, when there is insufficient by-in from parties, to extend agreements by ‘decree’ – when the Minister desires to do so.
NEASA views these amendments as being unconstitutional and made submissions to this effect to the Portfolio Committee on Labour last week.
Should government proceed with these amendments, we will enter the realm of
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING THROUGH DICTATORSHIP.
It is indeed a perilous situation when collective bargaining is governed by a state sanctioned conspiracy between
unscrupulous monopoly capital