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Labour minister cautions employers against tactic

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Oliphant emphasised government’s political will to ensure the tough enforcement of the implementation of the National Minimum Wage.

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SOUTH Africa’s Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant, has cautioned employers who dismiss workers en masse and re-employ and pay them at National Minimum Wage (NMW) rate or even less.

Oliphant said yesterday government was aware of a new tactic that was gathering traction – that of firing workers to undermine the labour laws that seek to address unemployment, inequality and poverty.

Oliphant was speaking during a live webcast organised by the Department of Labour in association with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Pretoria Office. The event was part of the ILO which is marking its centenary with a day-long “virtual” Global Tour, live-streaming special centenary events from 24 ILO offices around the world in a continuous, 24-hour webcast.

The intention is that each ILO office, in collaboration with the member state where the office is located, will contribute an hour of live webcasting, with a local flavour, creating a global picture of the diversity and range of the ILO’s work.

The webcast is part of celebrating 100 years of ILO existence. The ILO is an agency of the United Nations. On the African continent the ILO has been in operation for 60 years.

Oliphant emphasised government’s political will to ensure the tough enforcement of the implementation of the National Minimum Wage.

“Ours as a government is to strengthen the inspectorate and the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) monitoring roles,” she said, pledging that government is looking at increasing the budgets of these entities.

Relationships

The minister said labour laws such as the Labour Relations Act existed to strengthen relationships between employers and employees.

She said South Africa should pride itself that it had a structure like Nedlac where all social partners were able to deal with problems afflicting the labour market.

She added that government was also committed to investing in the economy of the country to create much-needed jobs.

She said South Africa was also in support of the recommendations contained in the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work report – that of increasing investment in people’s capabilities, increasing investment in the institutions of work and increasing investment in decent and sustainable work.