The Two Economies: Les Kettledas on the rolling back of labour laws

Les Kettledas deputy director general in the department of labour, re-assured Numsa leadership that a second economy should not and will not roll back victories workers had gained through their struggles.

Speaking to Numsa delegates at Numsa’s National Bargaining Conference in April 2005, he said that labour market policies cannot be isolated from macro economic polices and trade and industry.

“Our departments need to be harmonized. dti develop policies on trade but don’t take into account the effect they will have on our labour market policies. Problems cannot be addressed without a developmental strategy. It must include broader development that would be sustainable. Some are saying the dti shoots the rocket, the department of labour sits with the debris,” said Kettledas. “Those economists that argue that our laws and conditions cause problems in our labour markets must bring evidence to the fore. Business is part of these laws and must ensure together with labour and the department that there is implementation. Those that call for the reviewing of our legislation should think carefully – we don’t want to go back to the dark years of apartheid by creating a two-tier labour market that will harm the most vulnerable that are already in low paid jobs.”

The department of labour believes any changes should be influenced by facts and evidence from the workplace.

“What we need is an active labour market policy to promote employment for young people. Such policy should include entrepreneurship with skills to enter the current labour market.”

How responsive are Bargaining Councils to the needs of small business?
Total number of applications for exemptions received: 7 373
Total number of applications received from SMMEs: 4 344 (59%)
Total number of exemptions granted: 5 670
Total number of exemptions granted to SMMEs: 3 407 (60%) only 797 rejected
Percentage of Bargaining Councils reporting on representation of small business in Councils and on exemption of bodies of Councils: 75.86%
(Source: Department of Labour 2005)