Thousands of clothing, textile, footwear and leather workers nationally protest against labour brokers7 March 2012
Preliminary report by the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) on support by clothing, textile, footwear and leather workers for today’s national COSATU protest action against labour brokers.
Today South Africa’s workers again demonstrated their mass support for COSATU’s decent work programme of action, by protesting in huge numbers against the problem of labour brokering. Workers in the clothing, textile, footwear and leather industry supported this action too. In most parts of the country the industry has come to a standstill. Information available as at 10:30am today indicates that 74% of all clothing, textile, footwear and leather workers are participating in the protest action.
In KwaZulu-Natal, 69% of workers did not come to work. Large factories including DB Apparel (1,010 workers), Happy Footwear (900 workers) and Vimal Enterprises (600 workers) reported full participation of workers in the protest.
In Gauteng, Free State and the surrounding provinces, 88% of workers did not come to work. Large factories like Seton (940 workers), Fieldswear (480 workers) and Diva Fashions (440 workers) were closed or came to a complete standstill.
In the Eastern Cape, 68% of workers did not come to work. Large factories like Time Clothing (560 workers) and Da Gama Textiles (440 workers) were closed or came to a complete standstill.
In the Western Cape, after reporting to work this morning, workers left their workplaces between 9am and 10am. A later statement will include details of the participation rate in the Western Cape.
These statistics were generated by a country-wide survey in our industry conducted by SACTWU, with information supplied by company employer representatives and/or shop stewards. The survey to date covered 299 factories employing 42,200 employees in the industry.
SACTWU denounces labour brokering as a form of human trafficking. It feeds off workers, robbing them of a decent income, denying them job security and converting humans into simple commodities that can be discarded at will. Labour brokering is growing within some of the sectors in which SACTWU organises. This tendency must be stopped in its tracks. We have managed to have the practice prohibited in parts of the local textile manufacturing sector. We intend to achieve the same in all the other sectors in which we operate.
Labour brokering does not contribute to the sustainable development of our industry since it adds to the de-skilling of workers with short-term, irregular and uncertain contracts with indecent employment practices.
Issued by Andre Kriel, General SecretarySouthern African Clothing & Textile Workers` Union (SACTWU)
If more information is required, contact Fachmy Abrahams on (021) 447 4570.
40hr full-time – R3000
Part-timers – R1800
Overall average - R2933
85-hour VTE – R3000
60hr VTE - R2000
Overall average – R3167
At Woolworths it is estimated there is a ratio of 70% casuals and only 30% so-called permanent workers. In smaller retail companies the situation is much more dire.
- Limiting usage of labour brokers to temporary work not exceeding six months or to situations where employees work as substitutes, or in categories of work determined by the Minister of Labour in consultation with NEDLAC;
- Immediate application of the principle of joint and several liability where the employee could cite both the client and the labour broker in CCMA and/or Labour Court proceedings;
- Application of the principle of equal pay for work of similar value to employees of labour brokers, in relation to employees of the client company;
- Amending Section 21 of the LRA to consider the extent of engagement of employees in atypical forms of employment in determining sufficient representativity.
- Labour brokering is equivalent to the trading of human beings as commodities. Generally the main commercial contract is agreed to between the labour broker and the so-called “client” enterprise, which sets out the various stipulated labour services to be supplied and the price at which these services are to be supplied, whereas the true suppliers of labour (namely the workers) are excluded from this process, thereby undermining their rights to negotiate their wages and employment terms. The Constitution of South Africa guarantees a right to fair labour standards and the right to collective bargaining. The practise of labour brokering tramples both of these Constitutional protections of workers.
- Labour Brokers do not create jobs but merely act as intermediaries to access jobs that already exist, and which in many cases would have existed previously as permanent full-time jobs
- Labour Brokers destroy permanent jobs as they lead to insecure contractual relations and downgrading of wages and employment terms
- Labour Brokers do not practise the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. Workers employed by the Labour Brokers work longer hours without any compensation, they work Monday-to-Monday and 365 days without any compensation for working on Sundays and public holidays.
- Apart from undermining collective bargaining rights, labour brokers also provide scab labour and therefore serve as strike breakers!
- Labour brokering, combined with other forms of atypical work, reflects the current trends of the intensification of the rate of exploitation of workers.
- Significant emphasis is placed on the commercial rationale of using labour brokers to lower costs for clients, which is commonly achieved by reducing wages and excluding employment benefits.
- Labour brokering allows employers to evade their obligations as stipulated in the LRA. This is tantamount to outsourcing labour relations to a third party.
- Workers under labour brokers are unable to enforce their rights against any party that may be identified legally as the employer. In cases where this may be imposed against the labour broker agency, its precarious financial standing, especially in cases on insolvency, renders workers’ rights of enforcement as merely notional.
- Increased regulation of the industry will not work because capacity constraints within the Department of Labour to enforce existing legislation and a ban against labour brokers may be administratively simpler than detailed regulation, thereby simplifying enforcement.
- Most of the workers employed by the labour brokers do not enjoy pension fund/provident funds, medical aid benefits, etc. The employers dump these workers into the government social security system thereby increasing the state burden to provide for them in their pension life. This means the taxpayers are subsidising the employers to make super profits.
- Labour broker are also anti-trade unions because ‘their’ workers are constantly being moved around from one workplace to another within short periods, often with no access to union officials or the possibility of stop-order deductions for union subscriptions, they find it very hard to join a union or to remain members.
- Labour brokers contribute to the progressive de-skilling of workers, especially as a result of the short-term and irregular nature of the contracts associated with labour brokering and other forms of atypical labour.
- Businesses that employ less than 10 employees and businesses which employ less than 50 and have been in operation for less than two years;
- Employees who are engaged on official public works schemes or similar public job creation schemes.
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Fax: +27 11 339-5080 / 6940
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456