BUSINESS BUSTERS: Cosatu’s nationwide strike on Wednesday against labour brokers and e-tolling has come in for criticism from the business sector. Picture: Gallo Images
The country’s leading business organisations on Monday criticised Cosatu for its planned nationwide protest march against labour brokers and e-tolling – issues which they believe were still up for negotiation or could resolved through discussions.
They warned that disruptions to the country’s workplaces would cause severe harm to the economy.
Cosatu and its affiliates have planned marches around the country to demand the banning of labour brokers and scrapping of e-tolling.
The marches are scheduled to take place tomorrow in major cities around the country and would involve disruptions to workplaces.
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said in a statement it was disappointed that Cosatu had decided to go ahead with industrial action over labour brokers. “Busa considers that a well regulated broking sector must still play an essential role in job creation at a time when South Africa desperately needs to promote an employment friendly environment.”
Busa said it was possible to find a regulatory framework for labour broking which eliminated abuses, while retaining its facilitative role in job creation.
South African Chamber of Commerce CEO Naren Rau said the decision to march was “premature, unnecessary and likely to harm the economy”. “I don’t believe a strike is the right way to deal with these issues since they were being discussed at Nedlac level.
“Cosatu needs to learn to be patient with processes. We have a serious a problem with the way we deal with issues in this country.
“We resort to strikes quickly; we have to be cautious.”
Rau said the marches would be harmful considering the already low levels of production in the country compared with the developing nations.
Rau could not quantify the economic cost of the marches but said the repercussions would be severe. “The impact will be heavy if the participants disrupt the economic infrastructure or impede on roadway deliveries.”
The Chamber of Mines’ spokesperson Jabu Maphalala said his organisation had not made any plans to accommodate the marches. “These are marches and not a strike.”
The Steel and Engineering Industries’ Federation of South Africa (Seifsa), a national employer federation representing 35 independent employer associations in the metal and engineering sector, said the marches, aimed at putting pressure on the government, would come at a considerable cost to the workers and employers. The associations have a combined membership of 2290 companies employing 228495 hourly-paid workers, about 53% of the industry’s workforce.
“Seifsa remains steadfast in its support for the retention of properly regulated and compliant labour brokers as the only viable mechanism available to metal industry employers in providing the essential flexibility required to capitalise on business opportunities under the prevailing economic climate,” said Seifsa executive director David Carson.
He said the expected loss of a day’s production and wages was regrettable, particularly as it came at a time when the majority of firms in the metal and engineering industry were struggling to remain viable.
Seifsa said organised labour and business should jointly focus on job creation and poverty eradication. Trade unions should avoid actions, including work stoppages, that could affect business confidence negatively.