Labour minister calls on Nedlac to lead review of labour laws

The last major amendments to labour legislation were in 2010.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has called on the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to lead a review on current labour laws, regulation and processes in order to cut red tape and administrative costs, especially for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).

“A general review is probably due. There are signs that the present collective bargaining system is taking strain – and needs to be strengthened,” he said at the opening of Nedlac’s 26th Annual Summit under the theme: Recovering and Building Together.

South Africa’s most recent major amendment to labour legislation was in 2010 with a focus on the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Employment Equity Act, and the Employment Services Act.

The amendments to the four labour laws focused on:

  • Regulating labour brokers and atypical forms of employment;
  • Facilitating unionisation in vulnerable sectors;
  • Adding protection for vulnerable workers;
  • Improving the functioning of labour market institutions, including the CCMA, bargaining and statutory councils;
  • Addressing current problems in industrial disputes and dispute resolution;
  • Streamlining enforcement and enhancing compliance;
  • Promoting equity in the labour market.
  • Providing a new legal framework for the operation of public and private employment services.

According to Nxesi, Nedlac would be called upon to tackle a number of additional priorities such as: plugging the holes in the social protection safety net and this would include a discussion about the very definition of what constitutes a worker and an employee, in the upcoming year.

He said another area of focus was a conversation about and analysis of the impact of technological change and the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the world of work and on society in general. He also challenged Nedlac to address issues of energy and sustainability.

The minister noted that the country lost well over one million jobs in the first year of the pandemic.

“And the pain continues – reflected in the most recent StatsSA unemployment figures – rising to 34.9 percent,” he said.

He further made reference to the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, noting that it is more infectious than the Delta variant.