Q&A WITH OUR CE
Why did you start NEASA?
Labour law litigation in South Africa, especially for smaller businesses, is an extremely time consuming and expensive process. From the outset, our goal was to provide employers, even micro businesses, with affordable, quality legal representation in labour disputes.
There can be no doubt that we have achieved this goal. Currently we employ a large team of highly specialised labour law experts who annually appear in excess of 11 000 times in dispute resolution forums (i.e. CCMA and bargaining councils).
NEASA currently is the largest employers’ association in South Africa. What is the secret to your success?
NEASA has grown into what it is today thanks to a vision that benefits micro, small, medium and big business and the hard work of a talented and dedicated team of people. Each and every staff member has played a vital role in the success of NEASA. I am amazed by the quality and dedication of our staff.
What do you believe sets NEASA apart from its competitors?
There are a number of reasons. One reason is the fact that we have given employers, even micro employers, access to affordable top-quality representation in labour law disputes. As far as this service is concerned, NEASA's services are not matched in South Africa. We have a nationwide footprint, with permanent offices in Bethlehem, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, George, Kimberley, Klerksdorp, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria. We also have legal specialists located in De Aar, Springbok, Upington and Vredendal. We offer a number of additional services to our members, including free labour law advice via the NEASA Hotline and access to NEASA's online industrial relations Resource Library.
As far as collective bargaining is concerned, NEASA currently is the biggest employers’ organisation in the Metal Engineering Industry and either the largest or second largest organisation in all other industries. That makes NEASA unique within the labour relations environment.
What is your vision for NEASA?
Our primary focus will always be on providing affordable and quality legal representation to our members, be it at the CCMA or on bargaining councils.
Secondly, I believe NEASA has a critical role to play in helping employers realise that they are not powerless and that they can in fact make a difference and drive change in the labour market. We want employers to reclaim their power and engage with government, trade unions and employers' associations to create a less regulated labour market, but without any form of abuse, one that stimulates job creation and entrepreneurship. It is vital that each and every employer gets involved and actively participates in building a better South African labour market.
Lastly, we aim to continue the work we have done with our members to lobby government on any proposed amendments to labour legislation that would negatively impact their businesses. We also hope to drive labour market reform, specifically with regards to bargaining councils.
How do you believe we can drive job creation in South Africa?
Official unemployment figures in South Africa stand at 25%, but this does not include the 12% that are not actively looking for work. South Africa desperately needs to create an environment that stimulates job creation. This can be done in two ways: firstly by reducing minimum wages in certain industries and secondly by deregulating the labour market. Relaxing labour laws and statutory minimum wages will encourage the growth of entrepreneurship and small business and consequently drive employment and economic growth.
What are your views on collective bargaining?
A properly functioning collective bargaining system will create labour peace and stability, but only if it takes economic realities into account and recognises the needs of small business in South Africa. The current bargaining council regime only serves a privileged few and is without a doubt hostile to job creation and economic growth. Transformation in this area poses NEASA’s biggest challenge.