New rights in the LRA
The state has made new rights for labour broker, contract and part-time workers. Workers now have better legal protection because the new rights limit the bosses’ use of temporary and part-time labour. The new rights are in section 198 of the 2014 Labour Relations Act and came into effect on 1 January, 2015. The CCMA and bargaining councils will enforce the new rights.
New labour broker worker rights
Labour brokers must now give workers the rights in bargaining council agreements or sectoral determinations that cover the client company (the company where the labour broker workers actually work). This must happen from the first day the workers start working for the labour broker. Workers must also be given written details of their jobs by the labour broker at the start of employment.
The client company must make the labour broker workers its permanent workers after 3 months, with the same wages and employment condi ons as its other permanent workers.
Labour broker workers can take action against the labour broker and the client company if their rights are not upheld. Workers can declare unfair dismissal disputes if bosses dismiss them after the 3-month period.
New rights for contract workers
The new law says fixed term contracts must be in writing and must have a clear starting date and closing date. If the contracts don’t have these things, the workers are automatically permanent workers.
Bosses must make workers permanent after 3 months of contract work. The workers must then get the same wages and employment conditions as other permanent workers doing the same work. Bosses are not allowed to repeatedly renew short-term contracts that add up to more than 3 months.
Workers who are dismissed after 3 months can take the employer to the CCMA or a bargaining council for unfair dismissal.
These rights do not apply in a workplace with fewer than 10 workers, or a workplace with fewer than 50 workers in the first 2 years of operation.
New rights for part- me workers
Workers who work fewer hours than other workers must now be treated the same way as full-time workers. They must get the same rights and benefits, but on a pro rata basis. For example, part-time workers must get annual leave but they will not get the same number of days annual leave like full-time workers. Part-time workers must also get training and have the right to apply for full-time jobs.
These rights do not apply in the first 3 months of employment, in a workplace with fewer than 10 workers, or a workplace with fewer than 50 workers in the first 2 years of operation.
Why is the state giving these new rights now?
The LRA, in particular, encourages labour broking and contract work. Why, then, is the state giving these important new rights to these kinds of workers?
Some comrades have argued it is because it was buying COSATU votes for last year’s general election. Other comrades say it is because of the struggle of the Marikana workers, the farmworkers and many other workers who have been going on wildcat strikes since Marikana. Whatever the reason, workers will enjoy these new rights only if they organize and mobilise.