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BCEA and LRA Amendment Bills Certified as Ready for Tabling in Parliament

May 4, 2012

Department of Labour

The Basic Conditions of Employment (BCEA) Amendment Bill and Labour Relations (LRA) Amendment Bill have been certified by the state law advisor and are ready to be tabled in Parliament.

This has been confirmed by Parliament’s bills office.

Meanwhile, a series of media statements published on the department of labour website have thrown light on a range of related issues.

Regarding process, National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) parties will be required to follow NEDLAC protocol 5.2 during the bills’ passage through Parliament.

Protocol 5.2.1 states that “parties are bound not to re-open discussion in Parliament on any area where agreement was reached in NEDLAC”.

However, according to protocol 5.2.2, “parties have the right to raise issues in Parliament on which there has been no agreement, or on which a NEDLAC agreement was silent”.

In the context of the two amendment bills, protocol 5.2.2 applies in particular to labour broking.

The NEDLAC protocols can be viewed at www.nedlac.org.za.

During the course of country-wide public briefings on the two amendment bills, the issues raised have included:

• picketing rules;
• seasonal work and fixed-term project work; and
• essential services.

On picketing rules:

• “conduct by workers in breach of picketing rules will not enjoy … protection against civil proceedings”;
• breach of the rules by employers may lead to a suspension of the use of replacement labour; and
• the regulation of picketing will include “making rules binding on third parties such as (the) landlords of shopping malls, where many employers may be affected”.

This is according to the department’s director responsible for collective bargaining, Ian Macun.

Regarding temporary employment, provisions in the LRA Amendment Bill prohibiting employers and temporary employment agencies from renewing temporary employment contracts every six months will not apply to:

• seasonal workers;
• fixed-term project work; or
• workers employed temporarily to stand-in for full-time employees on long-term sick leave.

This is according to chief director for collective bargaining, Thembinkosi Mkalipi.

On essential services, proposed labour law amendments could see “far-reaching powers” being extended to the essential services committee (ESC) for determining the minimum number of workers expected on duty during an industrial action if the disputing parties fail to arrive at an agreement.

“We find that, in such situations, unions want as many workers to be away from work (as possible) while management, on the other hand, wants almost everybody to be at work. We now propose that government should be represented on the ESC to help remedy this,” Macun is reported to have said.

He added that a new category of public officials exercising authority in the name of the state had been included in the list of those providing essential services if covered in a minimum service level agreement, referring in particular to judicial officers, immigration officials and custom officials.

According to Mkalipi, negotiations on the draft Employment Equity Amendment Bill and draft Employment Services Bill are expected to begin in NEDLAC “soon”.

The public briefings will be concluded on 10 May in Rustenburg.