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NEASA throws its weight behind the FMF amid union threats

Posted in: Press releases
Date Added: 2013/05/22

The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) is outraged by renewed calls from COSATU and its affiliates that employers in this year’s wage negotiations should disassociate themselves from the Free Market Foundation’s (FMF) constitutional challenge to the collective bargaining system. The South African Clothing and Textile Union (Sactwu) recently joined calls by COSATU for employers to cut off the foundation’s funding, threatening countrywide mass action against capital. NEASA has once again fully thrown its weight behind FMF’s court bid and are also encouraging its 23 000 strong employer membership to support the FMF.

‘There is complete trade union hysteria over the Free Market Foundation’s constitutional challenge. They obviously do not understand the nature of the challenge. Their hysteria however confirms the extent to which trade unions have become dependent on bargaining councils and unconstitutional arrangements which have resulted in economic decline, deprived millions of workers of an opportunity to work and contributed largely to the current unemployment dilemma in South Africa,’ says Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA CE.

Last year the FMF brought a constitutional case against the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Labour, to change what it believes to be unconstitutional legislation that has led to millions of lost jobs. Section 32 of the Labour Relations Act currently requires the Minister of Labour to extend collective agreements concluded in bargaining councils to non-parties to the collective agreement that are within a bargaining council’s registered scope. In other words, they don’t have to be in on the deal, they just have to fall under its jurisdiction. The amendment proposed by the FMF at least requires that the Minister exercise a discretion. 

‘We agree with the FMF that this provision is unconstitutional and detrimental to the freedom of association as it gives private individuals the power to force the Minister to hold people who weren’t party to the agreements to them. We are firmly of the view that a free labour and economic market dispensation is the only solution for South Africa's current political and economic predicament. We therefore unabatedly and unashamedly support the FMF in its legal challenge against the unconstitutional provision in the Labour Relations Act,’  Papenfus said.

NEASA views certain elements of Section 32 of the Labour Relations Act as a severe form of interference in the affairs of business. 

‘The reality is that increased interference always hampers the expansion of business, economic growth and consequently contribute to unemployment and poverty. Undue government interference in the affairs of business can only lead to further economic decline,’ says Papenfus.

The attack by the Tripartite Alliance, led by the SACP, on business is unprecedented in South Africa. This will even escalate after the May elections as President Jacob Zuma has promised ‘a new radical phase of transformation’. Amid all of these utterances, business has remained disturbingly quiet.

‘We call on business representative bodies and individuals to come out openly about the effect of these measures on business. To remain quiet in order for short term gain will be devastating in the long run. Business must have the courage of their convictions and speak out,’ says Papenfus.

In December 2012 the Labour Court found in NEASA's favour in setting aside the Metal Industry Main Agreement.  A court date is awaited for NEASA's challenge in the Labour Court of yet another agreement.

For more information:

Sya van der Walt-Potgieter

Media Liaison

082 332 9512

 
 


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