Future of job-seekers on trial

23 February 2016 - 02:35 By Ernest Mabuza

The lives of millions of jobless South Africans are being determined in a court challenge by a non-government organisation demanding changes to the law. The Free Market Foundation yesterday launched its challenge in the high court in Pretoria against a section of the Labour Relations Act which, the foundation claims, prevents millions from getting jobs.With an unemployment rate of over 25%, and a tanking economy, the desperation for work is increasing. And things are not likely to be easier after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's Budget speech tomorrow.The foundation has asked the court to declare section 32(2) of the act unconstitutional as it gives bargaining councils the power to impose binding obligations on employers who are not part of the council.The act says a bargaining council may ask the minister of labour, in writing, to extend a collective agreement concluded in the bargaining council to any non-parties to the agreement.The foundation also argues that small and medium businesses, usually unable to match wages or increases of bigger firms, are being forced to retrench workers.The application is opposed by the labour minister, unions and the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council. Advocate Wim Trengove, for Cosatu, said parliament had ordained that the public interest was best served if bargaining council agreements could include non-parties."The constitution is comfortable with vesting public power in private hands."Judgment was reserved...

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