Not enough MPs to vote through divisive amendments to Labour Act

Posted 21 June 2013 Written by Linda Ensor
Category Labour

THE controversial Labour Relations Amendment Bill which has been in the parliamentary process for about two years could not be adopted in the National Assembly last night because there were too few MPs present to make up a quorum, according to a report in Business Day.

The assembly required 201 MPs but only had 186 present at the time the bill was put to the vote for the first time. A second attempt was made after the bells were rung but again there were 34 members short and a vote could not be taken. Parliament goes into its winter recess now and there was no clarity when the bill would again be presented for a vote.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act was, however, adopted.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) strongly opposed the Labour Relations Amendment Bill which it described as a "job-killing" piece of legislation. It was prevented by the parliamentary authorities to propose last-minute amendments during the debate as it had hoped to do.

The DA and the Congress of the People strongly opposed the removal of a clause requiring strike ballots before a protected strike could take place arguing that ballots would limit strike violence and intimidation and ensure democracy in the trade union movement. The DA also wanted the duration of placement of temporary workers by labour brokers to be kept to the six months as proposed in the original draft of the bill rather than the three months adopted by the labour portfolio committee.

The African National Congress (ANC) introduced the amendment during the parliamentary process.

DA labour spokesman Sej Motau condemned the Labour Relations Amendment Bill as "the strongest indication yet that the ANC is to pander to its alliance partner", the Congress of South African Trade Unions ahead of next year’s elections.

The DA and Independent Democrats also opposed the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill. But ANC MPs led by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant rejected claims by opposition parties that SA’s labour market was rigid and said the bills were needed to protect workers. They highlighted the enormous gulf between the pay of CEOs and workers.

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