Saturday, October 08, 2011

Regulate labour law flexibility, advises SA academician

Regulate labour law flexibility, advises SA academician
By Kombe Chimpinde
Fri 07 Oct. 2011, 09:50 CAT

A VISITING South African academician has advised the government to regulate the flexibility of legislation pertaining to labour in the informal sector if the workers' protection is to be guaranteed.

Professor Rochelle Le Roux, an expert in labour law at the University of Cape Town, said foreign investors were inclined to flexible labour laws because of the risks associated with comprehensive laws, which were common in many parts of Africa.

Le Roux, who attributed this development to gobalisation and speedy technological advancement, said the government must endeavor to strike a balance between investments and the protection of basic interests of employees.

"Our traditional labour laws are not drafted with non-standard (informal) employment in mind. They were drafted on the basis that everyone would be in standard employment because of the speed at which technology is changing. More and more workers find themselves in non-standard employment and labor legislation is perhaps not optimal," said Prof Le Loux in an interview yesterday.

"That is one of the biggest challenges in addressing lack of protection for workers."

Prof Le Roux observed that there was need for the government to implement and enforce legislation, which would protect workers especially those in the informal sector, and at the same time guard foreign investments.

"Investors, who, down the line become employers, are always concerned about the amount of flexibility that the labour laws allow. On the other hand governments are under obligation to provide employment to citizens," she said.

"The second reason is that they want to move and expand quickly. In some areas they are going to get machines to do it work so the best way of solving this problem is to provide for limited circumstances where employers can adjust or change the basic conditions of employment.

There must be some form of regulated flexibility."

Professor Le Roux said the new government had an obligation to set structures that encouraged and provided employment among its youthful population.

"I'm not talking about university or college education, I'm talking about lower level schools to provide skills development. And I hope the next government puts some energy into providing skills training across the board," said Prof Le Roux. "If you have the skills of the population you are eventually going to up economic development."

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