Hon Speaker, hon members of the National Assembly, hon Deputy President and colleagues, today I am pleased to introduce the Employment Services Bill. This Bill seeks to give effect to the 2009 election manifesto of the ANC, which promised decent work for all workers, as well as to protect the employment relationship, introduce laws to regulate contract work, and subcontracting and outsourcing, address the labour brokering problem and prohibit certain abusive practices.
The Bill also seeks to contribute to the government's objectives of more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods by repositioning public employment services to play a major role in employment promotion and employment preservation, and will also assist employers, workers and work seekers to adapt to changing labour market conditions.
The strategic objectives will be achieved through institutional arrangements that the department will further establish to provide free services to citizens, such as registration of job seekers, registering of placement opportunities, matching services, referral to education and training and careers information. The department will regulate private employment agencies providing similar services in the private sector to protect vulnerable workers.
In addition to this, the Bill allows the Minister to issue regulations requiring employers to register vacancies in specified categories of work. The Bill will further permit the Minister to introduce schemes to promote the employment of work seekers, to assist employees facing retrenchments to remain in employment, and to promote the rehabilitation and re-entry into employment of employees injured on duty or who have contracted an occupational disease.
Working in consultation with the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister can also introduce regulations providing steps to be followed before employing foreign nationals in the South African labour market. The Bill also provides a legal basis for the re-establishment and expanded scope of supported employment enterprises to provide employment for people with disabilities who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. It also aims to transform this service into a training resource for specific projects like the making of school furniture and other deliverables.
Let me thank the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, social partners for their commitment to social dialogue and for their extensive engagement with regard to the proposed Bill. I would also like to further thank the members of the portfolio committee for their contribution. I should also like to thank the many interested parties and organisations that submitted written comments on the Bill to the department.
I am pleased to table the Employment Services Bill today and recommend it to the House for adoption. Thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, tackling unemployment requires all of us to join hands for the good of the country. The future of our country ... [Interjections.]
Hon members, please reduce the noise level in the House. Will all those who are standing please take their seats. Hon member, continue.
The future of our country is in our hands - all of us. Unemployment is part of what was inherited from our ugly past. While no one today wants to own up to the apartheid mess, the ANC has rolled up its sleeves and tackled the problem of unemployment from every possible angle.
While some opposition parties claim to care about addressing unemployment, their actions are in sharp contrast to the cause. The opposition parties have perfected the art of sounding politically correct, while on the other hand putting road blocks in every progressive intervention that the ANC introduces.
In the world of today, which is characterised by globalisation, the unemployment problem has become a worldwide problem. It is endemic in both developed and developing countries. However, for developing countries this problem brings more challenges, like increased poverty and complications such as political and social instability.
Unemployment is probably the most severe problem that the South African society is experiencing and it is conceivably the root cause of many other problems, such as high crime rates, violence, abject poverty and so on. Prominent leaders in and outside government have also stated that no government will be able to govern South Africa if this problem is not addressed effectively.
In the third quarter of 2013 the South African jobless rate decreased to 24,7%, which is the lowest value in almost two years. The number of people without work went down to 4,66 million from 4,72 million in the previous three months. Between the second and third quarters of 2013, the number of employed persons increased by 308 000, while the number of unemployed persons decreased by 114 000. This resulted in a rise of 194 000 in the labour force. The formal sector and private households contributed positively to the increase in employment, up by 314 000 and 39 000 respectively.
In contrast, there was a decline in employment in the informal sector, down by 39 000, and in agriculture, down by 6 000. The uneconomically active population decreased by 82 000 persons, largely as a result of the decline in discouraged work seekers that has gone down by 125 000, while the remainder of the uneconomically active group increased by 43 000.
The Employment Services Bill is a welcome intervention as it seeks to introduce regulatory instruments to facilitate, among others, matching work seekers with available work opportunities; registering work seekers; registering job vacancies and other work opportunities; facilitating the placing of work seekers with employers in other work opportunities; advising workers on access to education and training; advising workers on access to social security benefits; providing specialised services to assist vulnerable work seekers; facilitating the exchange of information among labour market participants, including employers, workers and work seekers, private employment agencies, Sector Education and Training Authorities and training providers; facilitating the employment of foreign nationals - non-South Africans-in a manner that is consistent with the objects of this Act and the Immigration Act; and generally performing any other function in terms of employment law or prescribed in terms of this Act.
The Bill provides an elegant answer to the frequently asked question regarding what the Department of Labour is doing to facilitate the absorption of the unemployed into the labour market. [Interjections.] Cheers! [Laughter.] This Bill, if signed into law, will go a long way in providing a structured approach to addressing the unemployment scourge in South Africa. It will also test the commitment of the private sector to work with government in the efforts to address unemployment.
Any party that is not on the side of this Bill cannot claim to be part of the solution to our problems. We are convinced that it is a step in the right direction and, given time, real collaboration has a great potential to move the country forward.
Therefore, we call on all who love this country to step forward and be part of doing the right thing. Supporting the Bill will be a good start. Furthermore, the Bill covers issues such as the promotion of employment of the youth and other vulnerable work seekers; job retention; employment information; reporting on vacancies and filling of positions; registration of private employment agencies; cancellation of registration of private employment agencies when their licences expire; regulating the practice of the charging of fees by private employment agencies; the establishment of an employment services board; regularising the establishment and functioning of Productivity SA; and promoting of supported work for persons with disabilities - those are the factories that used to be called "sheltered employment factories".
The Bill captures the essence of government's New Growth Path, the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the 2030 vision in the National Development Plan. It follows, therefore, that this Bill serves as an excellent instrument to realise the national agenda and key priorities of this country. Amandla! [Power!]
HON MEMBERS: Awethu! [To the people!] [Applause.]
Mr Speaker, the DA cannot support the Bill that is before us. [Interjections.] From the Bill it is clear that the ANC does not understand why people do not have jobs in South Africa; why there are no jobs in South Africa; and how best to help people into employment. [Interjections.]
Indeed, instead of assisting businesses to grow, flourish and creating jobs, this Bill imposes an even greater administrative burden on businesses, adding to an ever growing list of fines that can be imposed on them. Before you try to help people into employment, Minister, you must first ensure that there are jobs for them to have.
The DA supports the establishment of Productivity SA, PSA. Although PSA had already been established under the Skills Development Act its re- establishment under this Bill makes it more effective and more relevant.
The DA also supports the establishment of supported employment enterprises. Sheltered employment factories have had limited success and the DA hopes that supported employment enterprises will widen opportunities for people with disabilities and further facilitate supported employment in South Africa, particularly for people living with disabilities.
Finally, the only other good aspect of the Bill before us today is that it will prevent employment agencies from charging fees to vulnerable job seekers. This will put an end to years of the abuse of the most desperate individuals, providing them with the protection that they need.
Unfortunately, Minister Oliphant has seen fit to wrap these positive provisions in unrealistic, damaging and inappropriate tripe. The Bill establishes a public employment service that aims to match job seekers with available job opportunities. However, Minister Oliphant has forgotten that her department already has Employment Services of South Africa and that this agency already conducts this function with a similar mandate.
The Bill will also control private employment agencies to the extent that their role will shrivel up into that of a recruitment agency. Government is therefore competing with the private sector and regulating it at the same time. Government presupposes that it can do a better job than the private sector. [Interjections.] However, we have already seen that this is not the case. [Interjections.]
Hon members, order! Order!
Employment Services of South Africa is slow and inefficient. Equivalent government-run employment services in Germany and the United Kingdom are staffed by over 70 000 people. Does Minister Oliphant seriously believe that the current staff complement of around 500 people is going to cut it? Minister, your department is not prepared for this Bill and, Minister, the country cannot afford this Bill. Instead, government must create the conditions for job creation and allow private recruitment agencies to find the right candidate to fill them.
The Government should not be the country's largest recruiter as well as its largest recruitment agency. This is a model for failure and one of the main reasons why we are stuck with an abysmal unemployment rate. The ANC government keeps trying to employ people instead of creating the conditions for the private sector to employ people.
This Bill is another blow to the struggling private sector and an asphyxiated labour market. The Minister now has the power to make a regulation that employers must notify her department of any vacancies, or face a R50 000 fine. This creates an extra burden on companies instead of helping them to grow and create more jobs.
In a country wracked with xenophobic tendencies, it is astonishing that the Minister thinks it is a good idea for her to have the sole power to regulate the employment of foreigners. This will only contribute further to the shortage of exceptional skills in the country when the country has a skills deficit of 829 000, according to Adcorp's 2012 review.
The DA cannot support this misguided approach to solving the most important problems facing South Africa today. It is time to put the focus back on jobs so that we can, once and for all, redress the wrongs of the past. I thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, on behalf of my colleague who is unable to be with us today, I am going to be debating the Employment Services Bill. There are many people across the country struggling to not only find jobs, but also to retain the jobs that they do have.
Many stakeholders have called on government to take a more active role in helping the citizenry tackle this issue and helping create more jobs, specifically for the youth. This Bill represents a step forward in the government's attempt not only to help those without work, but also to limit the impact of immigration on the availability of jobs.
The adoption of the Employment Services Bill will go a long way in helping vulnerable job seekers, who include the youth, new entrants into the labour market, disabled people and members of rural communities to be registered and matched with job vacancies and other work opportunities. With so many of our people in need of jobs, it is essential that they know where to go when they need to find more information with regard to available opportunities, and to be able to receive education and training as well as contact with employers through the established recruitment and placement services.
The regulation of private employment agencies presents an opportunity to minimise some of the labour-broking issues that many trade unions have been demanding be removed. With the new legislation private agencies will be regulated to ensure that only legitimate agencies are allowed to function as limited labour-broker agencies, presenting somewhat of a compromise to what the unions wanted.
The influx of foreign nationals into the country has stirred up animosity and tension amongst locals and foreigners, with many instances of xenophobic attacks taking place. The Bill allows for foreign nationals to be employed as long as South Africans with the particular skills needed are unavailable. This elevation of job opportunities to citizens over those of foreign workers will mean more jobs and a reduction in the number of unemployed. However, caution must be taken in this regard as it has the potential of blocking much needed experience within certain essential job markets, which the Minister has identified.
Many people with disabilities struggle to find permanent employment in different sectors of our job market, but with the implementation of the protected employment enterprises, this is bound to change. The many changing needs of people with disabilities must be catered for in the job market, and discrimination against them must be rooted out.
In conclusion, it is of paramount importance that this Bill be implemented cautiously, as it has all the intentions of making our job market more accessible to the South African job seeker. Elements of the Bill such as Productivity SA will not flourish if government disrupts the autonomy of the employers without good reason. It will take the public and private sectors working hand-in-hand to deal with issues of unemployment through skills training for those who need it and ensuring that the youth take advantage of the job opportunities presented to them. The IFP supports this Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, countries that have made huge advances in reducing unemployment and creating jobs will tell you that to succeed you must create an environment for businesses to flourish, make it simpler and cheaper to create jobs, and reduce red tape.
This principle is broadly supported in the National Development Plan when it calls for ways to improve the functioning of the labour market in order to promote large-scale job creation in our country. Several components of this Bill do not represent what is promoted in the NDP. Although this Bill have some positive elements that will contribute to streamlining the labour market, it also sounds the death knell for private companies whose core business is to reduce unemployment and poverty by facilitating job creation opportunities.
We recognise and support every attempt to eradicate the exploitation of vulnerable job seekers, but for government to compete with the private sector, instead of creating partnerships, and to introduce more red tape for businesses to operate is simply suicidal. Unless government incentivises businesses that create jobs instead of punishing those who do, our unemployment rate will continue to grow; poverty levels will soar and the gap between the rich and the poor will widen. Unless government creates a real partnership with the private sector, it will retain the burden of high levels of poverty and massive inequality.
This Bill, instead of promoting public-private partnerships, introduces the complete opposite. It promotes the establishment of institutions that will compete with the private sector whilst, at the same time, introducing more regulations to make it almost impossible for private enterprises to profit from job placement schemes.
It does not help South Africa's labour market to ask the Department of Labour to do a job that is currently being done for free by private enterprises. Fining businesses for up to R50 000 for not declaring information relating to vacancies in their companies is not just absurd, but hilarious.
When will the ANC government learn that overregulation is not how economies grow and is not how jobs are created? When will the ANC learn that if economies do not grow and jobs are not created, then government will not be able to resolve the unemployment crisis of this country? The ANC is too stubborn to listen to the masses. That is why people like Mrs Johanna Phala, a single mother of three from Seshego, told the ANC Deputy President that she has lost hope in the ANC because it failed to create the jobs that it promised. There are millions of desperate people like that out there in our country today who have lost all hope in the government creating jobs. Instead of focusing all the energy in growing our economy, which will create jobs, our government is playing around with ridiculous Bills that will simply make this situation worse. Thank you. [Applause.]
Hon members, please reduce the noise level in the House. That includes the Ministers.
Speaker, in order to make sense of the Employment Services Bill, one needs to paint the setting of the world it is trying to change. Yesterday I heard a bulletin on the radio of a young mother who poisoned her two children and then committed suicide as she could not continue to live on the social grant anymore. This terrible event sums up, in a nutshell, the terrible prospects many people in this country face every day.
Ek kan ook vir u verhale vertel van pensioenarisse wat nie meer woonplek of kos kan bekostig nie en hulleself ook vergiftig of op 'n ander wyse selfmoord pleeg. Ek sien dit veral by die Transnet-pensioenarisse. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[I can also tell you stories about pensioners who can no longer afford a place to live or food and who also poison themselves or commit suicide by other means. I see this particularly in the case of Transnet pensioners.]
So, while we are confronted with these cries for help, it is disconcerting to realise that the ANC is implementing policy that is destroying the economy. The regulatory impact assessment, RIA, report on the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, including analyses by many economists, is scathing in what this piece of racist law will do to the economy.
This law will not only redistribute existing economic value, it will actively destroy economic value. It is furthermore extremely worrying to see the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill's passage that will have the same destructive effect on the economy. Even worse is that no independent research exists that indicate that BBBEE is actually working. The proof is rather that it is merely redistributing the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Teen hierdie agtergrond maak die wetsontwerp oor arbeidsdienste sy verskyning. Daar bestaan egter vele gebreke. Eerstens wil die staat deur middel van dwang 'n privaatfunksie oorneem wat bes moontlik ongrondwetlik is. Tweedens wil die staat poste aanbied op grond van rassistiese wetgewing, naamlik die Wet op Gelyke Indiensneming. Laastens wil die staat poste aanbied binne 'n ekonomie wat swaarkry, juis vanwe inmenging op rassebasis wat nie volhoubaar is nie weens 'n gebrek aan voldoende opgeleide kandidate en 'n disfunksionele onderwysstelsel. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Against this background the employment services Bill has put in an appearance. However, there are many flaws. Firstly, the state wants to take over a private function by way of coercion, which may well be unconstitutional. Secondly, the state wants to offer posts based on racist legislation, namely the Employment Equity Act. Lastly, the state wants to offer posts within an economy that is struggling, precisely because of interference based on race, which is not sustainable because of a lack of sufficiently trained candidates and a dysfunctional education system.]
The Bill's objective, to promote employment against the backdrop of affirmative action and BBBEE, is nothing but ANC window-dressing and playing the fiddle while Rome is burning.
Wat die DA betref, kan ek net s dat hulle die minderhede in die land verraai het. Julle het wel laat omgedraai oor regstellende aksie, maar nie 'n woord gerep oor SEB nie, wat 'n nog strenger definisie van bevoordeeldes het en dus meer rassisties is as die ander wet. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Regarding the DA, I can only say that they have betrayed the minorities in this country. You may have made a late about-turn on affirmative action, but haven't uttered a word on BEE, which has an even stricter definition of beneficiaries and is therefore more racist than the other Act.]
When you decided to support the BBBEE Amendment Bill, it was not merely an accumulation of mistakes, as you tried to disguise your support for the Employment Equity Amendment Bill. Are you now going to support this Bill? If not, should Zille, Mazibuko and the MPs who openly supported that Bill not also be redeployed, like the others? Think about that.
Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, Members of Parliament, the labour market environment has the remnants of the apartheid social engineering patterns. Of course, the old system of apartheid provided a platform for super-exploitation of workers, which in turn provided a life support system for the apartheid economy.
I submit that on the balance of probabilities, the apartheid economy would not have survived without apartheid's repressive labour laws. For that reason, it is not surprising that every progressive move to make it possible for workers to enjoy full human rights and protection through the labour laws is opposed by those who are not friends of progress moves. Similarly, those who had become so spoilt with the exploitation as the mode of doing business regard that as okay.
Some businesses are finding it very difficult to cope with the fact that repressive labour laws are no longer part of our labour market landscape. Some have even gone to the extent of placing the blame of less than the required levels of job creation on our labour laws. But when you ask them exactly what the problem is with the labour laws, they tell you that our labour laws make it difficult to dismiss workers.
I thought curtailing the ease with which to dismiss a worker should be celebrated and not frowned upon. But then I realized that most employers have no idea of the trauma of being dismissed and that's why they have no sympathy if a worker is dismissed.
It is also urban legend to suggest that our labour laws make it hard to dismiss workers, because if that was the case, millions of workers who lost their jobs during the global economic crisis would not have been dismissed if the labour laws were as rigid as they claim. It has become clear to everyone that unless government does something directly about job creation, some businesses are just not interested.
The trouble, of course, is that unemployment is possibly the biggest threat to stability in this country, and stability is the main ingredient of viability and security in doing business in this country. Paying lip service to job creation by some employers is self-defeating.
Whilst it is generally accepted that the core business of business is doing business, it must also be acknowledged that it will not be sustainable if the socioeconomic deficit in the form of unemployment remains unattended to. This democracy has made a huge contribution to the success of many businesses, some of which would be history if it were not for democracy and the kind of democracy that exists in this country thanks to the ANC-led government!
I sometimes get the impression that our democracy and the willingness of our people to persevere is taken for granted. The trusting nature of our people was the cornerstone of believing that democracy would lead to a business-friendly environment that in turn would translate into prosperity being shared by all citizens.
Once again the ANC government calls on all its social partners to partner with it in its efforts to address unemployment in general and youth unemployment in particular. It is precisely for these reasons that government has introduced this Bill, not as a panacea for the unemployment crisis, but as a contribution to addressing what some consider as being the biggest threat to the future stability of this country.
The Bill is written in simple to understand language and its purpose and desired outcomes are explicit and noble. Establishing schemes to enhance the employment of young people is an objective that no South African in the right frame of mind would disagree with.
In the same vein, these efforts espoused in the Bill will not have the optimum impact if our social partners do not join hands with us. Having said that, government should not wait for those who are not ready to make a contribution. The train must move on and they might catch it at the next station if they genuinely love this country.
So accept the invitation to come on board to rid the country of joblessness; come on board to be counted among those who are part of the solution, because if you are not, then the reality is that you will remain a major part of the problem.
Let me conclude by recalling the 90s when trickle-down economic models were the gospel of the global economics, which was the text and preoccupation of many economists. It went like this: "Grow the economy and the social economic benefits thereof will trickle down from there." The progressive Nobel laureates of note challenged this paradigm and they have been vindicated.
Former President Nelson Mandela also raised concerns about this paradigm and is on record as having said: "The economic growth of the late 90s was a jobless growth." Let us deal with the need for economic growth in tandem with the urgent need to address joblessness in the general social upliftment of our people. The ANC supports this Bill. Ndza khensa. Inkomu! [Thank you.]
Hon Speaker, the ACDP supports the intentions of this Bill, which seeks to reduce unemployment, inequalities and poverty. It is in government attempts to promote and preserve employment, however, where the difficulty usually lies, keeping in mind that overregulation can inhibit private sector growth, which is clearly not the intention and will defeat the objective.
Hon Minister, has a regulatory impact study been done to determine what impact this legislation will have? Will it result in more jobs or just more red tape? The ACDP is convinced that government is responsible for creating the environment for a thriving economy, but it should not be the one actually providing the jobs. South Africa's focus must be on increasing productivity so that we are more globally competitive. To the degree that this legislation delivers on this aspect the ACDP supports it.
Although we have not had the opportunity to follow this legislation in depth, we are concerned about what appears a significant degree of dictating to business, which we see as problematic when the goal is more jobs. We note, however, that this Bill has been discussed at Nedlac and we therefore assume that business concerns have been addressed.
The ACDP will despite reservations, support this Bill, which we hope will take us forward, even if only in part, as we strive for more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods. Thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers and members, I stand here on behalf of Cope to support the Bill and explain the reasons why we are doing this. [Applause.] This Bill's objectives are, inter alia, to provide for the establishment of schemes to promote the employment of young work seekers and other vulnerable persons. The other vital part of the objectives of the Bill is to provide registration for the and regulation of private employment agencies. The establishment of the Employment Services Board is welcomed by Cope although it should have come earlier.
The challenge of the poor and vulnerable workers is a challenge which can only be ameliorated by having access to institutions that can link them with potential work opportunities without having to pay for the services. Cope hopes that the Employment Services Board will not be another institution which will be another rubber stamp of the ANC, but that it will be constituted by objective South Africans, whether ANC members or not, who will understand their legislative responsibility. All South Africans, irrespective of their political affiliation, colour, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or age, will have the same opportunity to serve the country. The challenges of South Africa do not apply only to a particular political party, despite what the ANC wants us to believe through the mouth of its leadership and deeds.
What the youth of this country needs is the opportunity to be self- sufficient. No one wants to be a recipient of food parcels for the rest of their lives. The poor do not want to be recipients of food parcels only once every five years or during by-elections and general elections. They want their dignity through being able to earn a living by having legal and legitimate jobs. The better life for all can be realised only if this does not mean a better life for ANC leaders only.
The Employment Services Board, Productivity South Africa and supported employment enterprises can only be credible to the labour market role- players if those who run it are credible South Africans. Employers will only make these institutions functional if they have confidence in them. The credibility of these institutions depends on their impartiality and effectiveness. How they are perceived will make the relevant role-players trust them and make them achieve their objectives.
Nedlac will play a vital role in the success or failure of these institutions that will be created through this legislation. The purpose of this Bill is noble, if those entrusted with the implementation and responsibility can do what they are supposed to do without fear or favour. Nobody can oppose any law which aims to promote employment by providing opportunities for new entrants to the labour market to gain work experience; improving the employment and re-employment prospects of employees facing retrenchments; and promoting employment, growth and workplace productivity.
Hon members, all these objectives can only be achieved if the integrated free public employment services serve all South Africans equally, irrespective of their political affiliation. Cope supports clause 8, which deals with the employment of foreign nationals. It should not be interpreted as promoting xenophobia.
It is important that South Africans should get the available jobs first and thereafter foreigners can be accommodated. The tendency to regard only the pitch-black Africans as being the only foreigners in South Africa should be confronted head-on. In most cases, foreigners from Europe and Asia are not treated the same as foreigners from East and West African countries. It is a legal imperative anywhere else in the world that employers prove that "there are no other persons in the Republic with suitable skills to fill a vacancy, before recruiting a foreign national", as clause 8(2)(a) of the Bill states. Further, Cope supports the whole of clause 9 of this Bill.
Since the poor do not have money to pay for private agencies, which charges people for looking for jobs on their behalf, it is logical that private employment agencies should not discriminate due to an inability to pay. The employers who are sourcing the services of the private employment services should be allowed to carry the costs of acquiring labour. Free supported employment enterprises will also assist people with disabilities to get employment.
The current status quo is absolutely unsatisfactory. Given the history of how the state-owned enterprises, SOEs, are being run, Cope hopes that these employment agencies will not turn out to be loss-making entities like SAA or the SABC. Cope will support this Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon members, there is a belief in certain circles that if you change the name of something very bad, it will cease to be bad. The notorious labour brokers are now euphemistically being referred to as "employment agencies". Labour brokers or private agencies do not contribute to the objective of more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihood.
Azapo has said before that labour brokers do not create jobs. They just tell the job seekers where the jobs are, but unlike placement agencies do not bring the prospective employers and job seekers together. We have been part of the call for a complete ban of labour brokers. The employment relationship is and must remain a relationship between the employer and employees. There must be no third party lurking in the shadows.
We have followed the debate on labour brokers or employment agencies. There are those who believe that regulating labour brokers will squeeze them out of existence. They call on us not to support the Bill as it would lead to their death. They say it is a sophisticated way of banning them. Azapo is not convinced.
Hon Minister, we do not agree with you, just as we do not agree with the argument by hon Mubu of the DA. Azapo will not be party to a process that legitimises labour brokers. We will not legitimise a group that has exploited the workers of our land. We hear that workers will no longer be charged. In fact, they are not being charged now; the employer is being charged, except that the employer docks the worker's pay for the money that is transferred to the labour brokers. We do not want labour brokers. So, we will not support this Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]
Speaker, the DA evaluates every policy and legislative proposal through the lens of job creation and economic growth. We understand the simple truth that a flourishing economy is the only real way to redress the economic legacy of apartheid and to include many millions more South Africans in prosperity.
If we accept the premise that every policy that government proposes should be judged by its effect on economic inclusion and growth, then it's easy to see why it is impossible to support this Bill.
This Bill will not help to create jobs or to facilitate labour absorption. In fact, quite the opposite; it will destroy jobs. How will it do that? It will destroy jobs by crowding out hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller employment agencies which historically have had a superb record of placing work seekers in jobs. Expanding the public employment service will not lead to more jobs, it will lead to less. Those smaller agencies will be crushed under an ever-expanding mountain of red tape that this government places upon them. All that this means is that there will be a concentration in the sector. The big companies who can handle the smothering red tape will survive, and those that cannot will perish.
The ANC's policy programme this year has been defined by its preoccupation with browbeating the economy into complying with the model of control and coercion that it envisions, but you cannot browbeat the economy without sacrificing competitiveness, jobs and long-term growth. This Bill is another example of this agenda in full swing and it will not work. It belies a fundamental misunderstanding and mistrust of the South African economy. You do not create jobs by regulating successful businesses to death.
Let me deal with the hon Alberts. We oppose this Bill because it does not help to redress the legacy of apartheid. That is quite different from why you oppose this Bill, hon member. We oppose this Bill, because it does not go nearly far enough in redressing the economic legacy of apartheid. We support the inclusion of dispossessed and excluded South Africans' economy. We are not sure that you feel the same. [Interjections.]
We oppose this Bill, because it reverses the cause of redressing apartheid and it does not advance it. You do not create jobs by replacing efficient innovative entrepreneurs with inefficient ever-expanding government departments.
Hon Nchabeleng, on Saturday morning I received an SMS from the ANC asking me to go and register. I am not sure in what universe you think a DA Member of Parliament is going to go and register for the ANC ... [Interjections.] Yes, I will take your question.
Order, hon member. Order!
He has already said he would take the question. Can I ask the question, please?
Do you call consultants - people who stand between the employer and employees - job creators? Is that what you are saying?
Hon member, small employment agencies in South Africa have a track record of decades of placing hundreds and thousands of South Africans in jobs. [Interjections.] [Applause.] They work efficiently to match demand with available skills. [Applause.] What you propose is to kill all of those businesses and replace them with a massive expanding government department. That is not job creation - that is tinkering disruptively.
Let me get back to the SMS quickly. The SMS said to me that the ANC has created jobs since 1994. The hon Nchabeleng tried to spin the same statistics today. The truth of the matter is that, one in three South Africans who are of economically active age are unemployed; three million of them have lost all hope of finding a job. They don't even look for a job any more because of the policies of this government. So, frankly, the SMS was grossly misleading.
The fact is, this Bill benefits big business and big labour. It is another demonstration that the ANC has become the party of big business and big labour working in unison to protect their elites. My party, the DA, stands up for entrepreneurs who work day and night to grow their business, stay competitive and create jobs. We stand by them and that is why we oppose this Bill. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members and, most importantly, the South African people, I firstly want to state that the ANC supports this Bill. We support this Bill today and we will support it in the future.
I can't talk for all parties in this House, as some parties change their minds after they have supported Bills. As Mr Tony Leon recently wrote:
The DA's flip-flop on employment equity suggests that, whatever its other lapses, the ANC now comprehensively dominates the intellectual space and defines terms of the debate within it.
Today, before this Fourth Parliament and before South Africa... [Interjections.]
Order, hom members! Order!
... we are debating the Employment Services Bill. I have stated this, because it is important for all hon members in this House to understand that this Parliament is nothing without the people. It is important for the people to understand that this Parliament is nothing without people's participation. Through the democratic processes that we all enjoy today, courtesy of the ANC-led mass democratic movement, you, South Africa, have put us here. You have put us here to make laws that are in your best interests.
Section 8(1) of the Employment Services Bill states:
An employer may not employ a foreign national within the territory of the Republic of South Africa prior to such foreign national producing an applicable and valid work permit, issued in terms of the Immigration Act.
I know, South Africa, that some of you are deeply concerned about the issue of non-South Africans working illegally within South Africa. The ANC-led government is deeply concerned about this issue, too.
Let us work together - the people and the ANC-led government - on a solution that puts the love we share of humanity above a few people's lust for wealth. [Interjections.] Over the last 19 and half years, South Africa has improved to such an extent that non-South Africans are flocking to this country. Today, South Africa is a much better country to live in as opposed to the time when the DA's predecessors were collaborating with the apartheid regime. [Interjections.] We, as a united collective rooted in our mutual love of humanity, we as South Africans, must start asking: Why is it that non-South Africans can illegally gain employment within South Africa? The simple truth is that a group of people whose lust for wealth is bigger than their love of humanity is breaking the law and illegally employing non-South Africans. We cannot blame non-South Africans for this situation. We, who put the love of humanity above our lust for wealth, must never blame individuals for seeking a better life.
The cause of this worrying situation is the law-breaking employers that illegally employ non-South Africans. They do this because they think they can more easily exploit illegal workers. These inhumane, greedy employers use deportation as a threat in order to exploit vulnerable people. They are criminals that exploit in order to accumulate more money.
In South Africa, we basically have human trafficking of a special type perpetuated by greedy employers. What we have are vulnerable non-South Africans rushing toward what they think are greener pastures and finding, instead, exploitation and humiliation. Only as a collective, rooted in our love of humanity, can we put an end to the exploitation and humiliation of our fellow humans. Only through working together will we achieve more. Do not blame non-South Africans; the blame squarely lies with the employers who illegally employ non-South Africans.
The Employment Services Bill, in section 8(2), states that:
The Minister may, after consulting the Board, make regulations to facilitate the employment of foreign nationals, which regulations may include the following measures:
(a) The employers must satisfy themselves that there are no other persons in the Republic with suitable skills to fill a vacancy, before recruiting a foreign national.
This section is important, because there are occasions where there are no South Africans with the skills required to do a job and the skilled person must therefore be imported.
However, when farmers employ non-South Africans to be their labourers, to work excessively long hours and live in hovels and squalor in order to make more money, it is illegal and inhumane. When factories and offices employ non-South Africans and unskilled employees, pay them a pittance and sexually harass them, it is illegal and inhumane. When restaurants, hotels and retailers employ non-South Africans as waiters, cleaners and shelf- packers because they can exploit them, it is illegal and inhumane.
We call on the South African bourgeoisie to engage with their compatriots who are currently employing illegal non-South Africans to put an end to this illegal practice. I call on my fellow South Africans to be sensitive to the plight of non-South Africans living in our beautiful country. We are all people, we are a society and, as an African society, we must not exploit and humiliate one another.
My fellow South Africans, I call upon you to report all employers that illegally employ non-South Africans to your nearest Labour and Home Affairs offices. Brothers and sisters, I call upon you to participate in the implementation of the law. [Interjections.] Comments on Twitter and Facebook don't equate to participation. The first act of participation in a participatory democracy is voting.
In the upcoming national general elections, you have the right to choose between the former apartheid collaborators and the people's liberators. [Interjections.] If you don't participate in our democracy, then why did so many people suffer and die in the struggle for our liberation?
During the time when the DA's predecessors were collaborating with the apartheid regime ... [Interjections.] ... the ANC-led liberation movement was suffering untold hardship with the aim of creating a people-driven and people-centred government within a nonracist, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. [Interjections.] Some of the opposition parties in this debate wish to see the government pass laws that allow greedy employers to exploit you, South Africa. The opposition want to protect their funders and not the people. Together, we, South Africa, must never allow exploitation of our workforce.
Without the people, without your participation, this government is nothing. Without you, my fellow South Africans, this participatory democracy is meaningless. Only through working together can we do more. I thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker ...
Ngizofisa ukwazisa amalungu amabili umhloniswa uDikobo nomhlonishwa u- Hoosen ukuthi ... [I would like to inform two members, hon Dikobo and hon Hoosen, that ...]
... maybe the best thing ...
... abathathe zonke lezi zichibiyelo kanye nalo Mthethosivivinywa bakufunde kanyekanye kodwa bangakuchathi ukuze baqondisise ukuthi ngempela ngempela lezi zinto zithini. [... would be to read all these amendments together with this Bill but they must do it properly in order for them to have a better understanding of what they mean.]
It's unfortunate that some of them are not members of the committee and that is why they don't have full information about this legislation.
... kumalungu amasha e-DA omnumzane uMubu no-G G Hill-Lewis ... [... to the new members of the DA, Mr Mubu and G G Hill-Lewis ...]
... I believe that it is because they were not participating in the processes. It's fortunate that hon Mudau and Van der Westhuizen were chucked out of the committee because they supported the legislation. [Interjections.] That's the kind of people we have in South Africa.
I want to share with them that the sheltered employment factories were established in 1943. We are amending it in order to transform them into public employment enterprises, because we want to transform that particular sector which was, at that time, only meant for white people and those soldiers who were injured while in uniform. We can't proceed with such legislation.
If they are serious when saying that they want to participate in redressing the injustices of the past, they should support this particular legislation. So now we understand exactly the kind of chameleon we are working with in South Africa. [Interjections.]
I want to say to hon Mubu that this Bill does not talk about increasing the fines. Don't put your confusion into this particular legislation. Secondly, hon Mubu, we are not establishing Productivity SA, because it already exists. We have only amended it. [Interjections.] Maybe it is a case of your not understanding the language that was used, therefore you are confusing yourself.
At the same time I want to say to hon Mubu, it is clear that when it comes to immigration laws you don't understand the role of the Department of Labour. The Department of Labour makes recommendations to Home Affairs, which has the final say when it comes to the employment of foreign nationals. We also work together with the Department of Trade and Industry. So, don't come and express your confusion here. You should probably thank South Africa, because you also fall under the category of foreign national. [Interjections.] You should probably appreciate being in South Africa, because you won't find a South African in the Chambers of your country ... [Interjections.]
Speaker, on a point of order! [Interjections.]
Order, hon members! Order! Yes, sir, what's your point of order?
My point of order is that I don't appreciate the Minister's attitude. She is personal ... [Interjections.]
Hon members, order! Order! Allow the speaker to be heard. Proceed.
She is attacking me personally, instead of debating what I said. I think she is expressing a xenophobic attitude. I don't appreciate it! [Applause.] [Interjections.]
He is a citizen of this country!
Order, hon members! Order!
Speaker, may I address you on a point of order? I submit that referring to the hon Mubu as a "foreign national" is unparliamentary as it is xenophobic in nature. Hon Mubu is a South African citizen. [Interjections.]
Hon members, order! Order! Yes, that's correct; he is a South African citizen and not a foreign national.
Speaker, will the hon Minister withdraw her comment? It is unparliamentary.
You were supposed to wait and listen to what I am going to say. [Interjections.]
Order, hon members! Order!
Speaker, I withdraw the remark that hon Mubu is a foreign national. But I also want to say he is a citizen based on our policies. [Interjections.]
That doesn't make sense!
Speaker, the withdrawal should be unconditional. The hon Minister is qualifying it, and that is not parliamentary.
Hon Minister, withdraw it, please.
Hon Speaker, I said I withdraw the remark that hon Mubu is a foreign national. I have just withdrawn that.
Thank you. [Interjections.] Order, hon members! Order!
Hon Speaker, I do believe that hon members know what happens when it comes to private employment agencies. We want to register the private agencies so that we can monitor their activities within that particular category.
When we talk about labour brokers, they are classified as temporary employment agencies in terms of the legislation. Hon members must be very clear when they come to the podium and not just make assumptions about the issue of labour brokers. That is why I am saying hon Dikobo must thoroughly read all this legislation that has been tabled before Parliament. It is unfortunate that he says that we must ban labour brokers. It means he doesn't even understand the Constitution of this country.
Let me thank all the other members who have supported us. Finally, let me say to hon Kganare that the Employment Services Board will be recommended by the Nedlac constituencies. When they approve what we will be doing, it will be based on the ANC's manifesto, which is the election policy of the ANC. The ANC will continue to support and protect the vulnerable workers. Unfortunately, some of the members don't even understand that during the Nedlac processes all social partners supported this Bill. It is purely business. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Bill read a second time (Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I wonder if the DA did not call for a division because they are not sure how their members are going to vote.
Hon member, that is not a point of order. Please take your seat.