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Thread: Is the Labour Relations Act balanced and sustainable?

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Is the Labour Relations Act balanced and sustainable?

    It is my opinion that the Labour Relations Act is fundamentally flawed as it puts the relationship between employer and employee in an unnatural, unsustainable balance.

    I was going to say that the Act has failed to achieve its stated objectives which for some wierd reason I took as improving the relationship between employer and employee, trying to reduce strikes, workplace disruption etc., but reading the actual purpose and aims... well, that certainly isn't one of the stated objectives.

    Unless you count "the effective resolution of labour disputes" as aiming to improve the employer-employee relationship, in which case every strike probably should be scored as a failure of the Act to achieve this particular objective.

    I think if this legislation remains unchallenged, it is only a matter of time before this skewed relationship is going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I also have to concede that my view on this might be skewed by the fact that I'm an employer. So to try to challenge my own paradigm, I'd appreciate a few opinions on the following holy cows:

    1. Is the right to strike by an employee equally balanced by the right to lockout by an employer?

    2. Is the ability of an employee to resign in equal balance with the employer's ability to dismiss?

    3. Is it reasonable that if 50% + 1 of a sector wishes to engage in collective bargaining and use all the powers assigned to them in terms of the Act, they can override the individual rights of the remainder who are not interested in collective bargaining and central agreements?

    All views on this most welcome.
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    Moderator IanF's Avatar
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    Dave from my point of view 2 factors which affect our growth in SA are the labour relations act and BEE/AA. The latest I have seen is
    According to a well placed source Telkom’s highest cost to provide services is staff related expenses, and here Telkom became uncompetitive.

    It is understood that Telkom would be far more competitive if they paid their staff market related salaries for their skills, but unions pushed the company to increase salaries across the board instead of differentiated performance-based increases. This means top performers and key-skilled employees get the same increases as average workers – not a recipe for becoming competitive.

    An added factor is that the unions have forced Telkom to move all staff earning below a certain percentile of their salary range to a minimum salary scale regardless of performance and skills
    This if from MYBB explaining why ADSL costs are high compared to other countries.

    So does the ANC will to change the legislation? My guess not until Cosatu splits from the alliance and forms their own Labour Party. Then the government should take a stronger line with the intimidation from the unions. Will this happen, politics doesn't follow logic so who knows.

    If this is too off topic please move it.
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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    The fact that the LRA has relatively few amendments, and none of consequence, is indicative of governments not being prepared to accept reality.

    Of course politics is about votes, and in a country where votes are about my person or side I like, rather than fundamentals of who can do the best job, keeping the masses happy is what it is about. A move toward employers is not good for votes.

    A few years back, a person who only dealt with wage negotiations described the difficulties as follows -
    In the first year the duly elected official of the union come swith crazy demands. You try and expalin how economics and business works, to no avail, the crazy demand continues. In the second year, the official comes back with a crazy demand again, but this time around he has more understanding and there really are REAL discussions, and things are a bit easier. In the third year the official now fully understands the way it works, so when the members say they want 50% he tries to save time and shortcut the proces andexplains that is not possible etc,etc and tehy should make a more reasonable demand..............Result:Members think he is siding with the employer and vote him out. So you start all over again
    Anthony Sterne

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    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanF View Post
    If this is too off topic please move it.
    Not at all. I'm trying to collect as many paradigms as possible - hopefully also some totally different from my own.

    I'm not even sure I'm asking the right questions at this point. I just see a problem that seems to be snowballing and it needs tackling.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    I think what we're seeing with the LRA is the far end of the pendulum swing. 10-20 Years ago the work force did in many respects get the sharp end of the stick, farm labourers paid in wine and getting rid of workers was often as easy as deleting them from the payroll. I think what we're seeing with the new LRA is just over-compensation in favour of the employees. Hopefully in a year or two after a few amendments it will settle down somewhere nearer middle ground.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    OK - if the LRA is going to be reviewed, I suggest there needs to be some discussion on what needs to change.

    Personally, my opening gambit would be the scrapping of extension of collective agreements to non-parties. It's grossly abused and the very foundation behind it (it's supposed to "level the playing fields") is so far off economic reality I'm amazed anyone swallowed it in the first place.

    Second is the objective of "democratisation of the workplace." What twaddle! If that produced viable, competitive companies, the top performing companies would have no hierarchy at all. Just pass around memos and decide everything by universal ballot.

    Bad enough top management at some companies get away with voting on their own salaries - imagine if everyone could do that! Recipe for a flaming disaster

    I'm all for employee forums and mechanisms for staff to voice opinions and send feedback up the line, but the final decisions need to come from the top down (and if they're wise they'll listen to that feedback before making those decisions).

    And then there's...

    Maybe I'm preaching to the choir here.

    Does COSATU have a forum?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Diamond Member wynn's Avatar
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    If I am not allowed to fire them, why should I hire them?

    Admitted this is a little difficult to apply to businesses that employ a large amount of people!

    The reason the unemployment figure is so high is that small, informal businesses which should be the backbone of any growing, vibrant economy are forced into a 'straight jacket' of employment obstacles before they are able to employ people, so they rather start and do the kind of business that requires no labour. QED
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wynn View Post
    If I am not allowed to fire them, why should I hire them?
    Which reminds me...

    Apparently there's a draft floating around the corridors of power proposing that businesses won't be able to do their own hiring selections. If a post opens up, you'll have to inform DoL and they'll make the appointment for you from someone on their list of jobseekers.

    (or something along those lines - haven't seen the draft myself - could even be an urban legend doing the rounds ).

    Can anyone confirm?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    I just read it myself a day or 2 ago, but cant for the life of me think where.
    Will try and remember and paste the link!
    Last edited by sterne.law@gmail.com; 27-Aug-10 at 09:02 AM.
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    Google it - Employment Services Bill
    It is still a draft so you wont find it on Gov web site just yet.
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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