Labour brokers still on the rise and … regulated?

When employers insist they are creating jobs by not letting go of labour brokers; is it really about their concern over unemployment rate, or is it about themselves?

If reducing employment is their top priority, why do some employers dismiss employees from companies with the aim of accommodating them in a labour broker? Why don’t they hire new employees to reduce unemployment?

If the labour brokers’ main purpose is to enhance the experience of young people in preparation for permanent positions in companies, what about the case of Dyokwe v De Kock (Mondi Packaging SA).

When Dyokwe, after being hired by Mondi Packaging SA, was told to sign a contract with the labour broker, Adecco, which was apparently dismissed him when he was deemed too old for the job? In other words, the old and experienced Dyokwe in a permanent position, is subjected to the casualisation meant for younger people seeking experience.

The fact that he was first shifted to a labour broker, which dismissed him, also indicates leniency of labour law.

Nightmare for workers
What seems beneficial to the primary employer is a nightmare for the workers. This is because workers hired by labour brokers experience inferior treatment to that received by workers in the main companies. There has been ongoing debate on this subject in Parliament and among trade unionists, with Parliament resolving to regulate brokers. This indicates that something is not right, and that the pinch is felt by workers only.

If by regulating labour brokers the government is implying that the same rules should apply to companies as to the brokers. If the brokers end up operating exactly like companies, then the aim of reducing unemployment among young people and giving them experience will no longer be valid.

And if they operate differently from companies, then challenges will continue for old people, who will go on working there because they will not get opportunity to find permanent employment elsewhere. Said Armstrong Tsela of DB Thermal’s labour broker, AMT: “We now have sick leave and bonuses although there’s no medical aid due to lack of money.”

And if the primary employers choose to defy the regulations, workers’ rights will still be violated, unless there is monitoring.

“Labour brokers will always be labour brokers. The change is not yet there; there is no guarantee of belonging here, and there are old workers among us,” said KK Baloyi of Global Wheel’s labour broker, Oxyon.

Addressing students at Stellenbosch University, DA leader Helen Zille said “South Africans needed to see through Cosatu, because it wants to keep unemployed people excluded from jobs and economic opportunities to protect its power base.” It clearly shows she’s reasoning subjectively.

She does not see labour broking in the same way as the labour minister, who compared it to human trafficking. She seems not to differentiate between decent and bad jobs.

Principles of justice need to be applied when dealing with the underprivileged who; just like anybody else, want to make decent living. Most of them are breadwinners, and ignoring their plea is not a good idea.