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The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) is delighted by the Free Market Foundation’s announcement that it has brought a constitutional case against the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Labour, to change what it believes to be unconstitutional legislation that has led to millions of lost jobs.

‘NEASA fully supports the Free Market Foundation in its challenge as we agree with the notion that the extension of bargaining council agreements to non-party members, do in fact limit job creation’, says Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA CEO.

The section currently allows the Minister of Labour to extend a collective agreement concluded in the bargaining council to any non-parties to the collective agreement that are within its registered scope. In other words, they don’t have to be in on the deal, they just have to fall under its terms.

‘We agree with the Free Market Foundation that this provision is unconstitutional and detrimental to the freedom of association as it gives private individuals the power to force the Minister to hold people who weren’t party to the agreements to them. We are also concerned about the uncompetitive nature of the bargaining council system, as it allows a few large players and trade unions in industries to set wages that the smaller players cannot match’, Papenfus said.

Despite a marginal improvement with regard to the unemployment rate towards the fourth courter of last year, the labour force decreased by 235 000 persons between the third quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2012. The unemployment rate for young Africans has gone from 56.1% in the first quarter of 2008 to 65.6% at the beginning of last year. In other words, two out of three young Africans looking for work could not find it.

‘The country’s system of collective bargaining and minimum wages has in fact become a deterrent to job creation and job retention. We can no longer afford measures that will reduce jobs in any industry,’ Papenfus said.

NEASA is mindful of the fact that the FMF’s challenge will be a difficult one.

‘It will however succeed in putting the necessary pressure on the current system and make it realise that people need the freedom to decide for themselves what kind of jobs they want to do, what amount of pay they are prepared to work for, and what conditions they are prepared to work under’, says Papenfus.

For more information:

Sya van der Walt

Media Officer

082 332 9512