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Fri Jul 29 09:53:03 SAST 2016

Mashaba spends millions bankrolling battle against collective bargaining labour law

Katharine Child | 10 February, 2016 11:03
Herman Mashaba. File photo.
Image by: Sunday Times

The Democratic Alliance's mayoral candidate‚ Herman Mashaba‚ has spent more than R4-million of his own money to challenge an aspect of labour legislation that he believes keeps people unemployed.

The Free Market Foundation‚ of which Mashaba was chair before going into politics‚ is challenging a single clause in the Labour Relations Act (LRA) legislation.

The foundation wants the clause in the LRA that makes collective bargaining agreements apply to everyone in the sector‚ whether or not they entered into the bargaining‚ deemed unconstitutional and struck down.

It filed papers at the high court three years ago and the case‚ which has 27 respondents‚ will be heard in the from February 22 to 26.

Mashaba has bankrolled the challenge and continues to do so even though he is not affiliated to the foundation anymore‚ according to the foundation's executive director Leon Louw.

The foundation has argued that labour legislation is a key reason 8-million South Africans are unemployed.

Louw said on Tuesday: “South Africa has the highest sustained unemployment in the world. We have the worst labour legislation in the world."

The foundation and Mashaba argue that collective bargaining agreements on wages and working hours that are reached between labour and business should not apply to everyone in the sector‚ but just to those who choose to be part of agreement.

They say forcing everyone to pay the wages agreed to in bargaining‚ undermines businesses' constitutional rights to freedom of association.

A total of 23 bargaining councils‚ the labour minister and three unions are opposing the case.

On Tuesday‚ the foundation was at pains to point out it is not against collective bargaining.

"People should be free to enter into wage agreements with who they see fit‚" said Louw. But it said people not part of the bargaining process should not be forced to agree to its terms.

The foundation argues that small businesses cannot always afford the wages that big business agrees to in collective bargaining. Then small business then retrench people or do not hire more staff‚ increasing unemployment.

Louw said: "People think the choice is between high and low wages.

“It is not. It is between high wages or no wages.”

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