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Worker Ownership Under the Spotlight

May 4, 2021

Department of Trade, Industry and Competition

More than 150 000 South African workers are now owners of the companies they work for and more worker ownership provisions are being put in place by companies.

In a statement, the trade, industry and competition department confirmed that minister Ebrahim Patel announced this during a press briefing with business leaders and unions on worker ownership structures at the end of last week.

The department emphasized that government’s policy framework for the current administration focuses on worker empowerment through ownership structures.

“Already substantial work has been done in this regard, with amendments to the Competition Act promulgated in July 2019, explicitly requiring the competition authorities to look at the impact on worker ownership, when considering if a merger should be approved.”

According to the minister, government, business and organised labour are also working on a set of amendments to the Companies Act designed to open up the opportunity for greater levels of worker representation on the boards of large companies.

“Broad-based transformation of the economy is of critical importance to re-ignite and unlock the potential of South Africa’s economy,” he stated.

New guidelines on the use of worker ownership and other broad-based ownership schemes so that “evergreen structures which provide longevity in their benefit for workers may also be recognized” are also in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, the economic development department, in Gazette 44505, published the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Competition Commission and the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).

The MOA sets out the governance framework for the establishment of the Economic Development Fund and for the appointment of the MDDA as the administrator and manager of the Fund.

Media companies will pay fines on price-fixing and the fixing of trading conditions into the Fund.