News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday September 19th 2019

Mixed reactions over labour broking at Cape Town march

About 8 000 people exercised their democratic right to protest in Cape Town on Wednesday, participating in a day of strike action which went off without any major incidents. Photo: Steve Kretzmann/WCN

Cosatu’s combining the issues of e-tolling and labour broking in their call for a day of strike action, may have garnered a greater number of participants than a singular focus on either issue may have accomplished, but marchers in the Cape had little to say about e-tolling.

While about 8 000 people, including up to about 200 school children who heeded Cosatu Provincial Secretary Tony Ehrenreich’s controversial call for learners to join the strike, marched to Parliament on Wednesday, most of those interviewed focused their comments on labour broking, even though some did not support a complete ban.

The focus on labour broking in the Cape Town leg of Wednesday’s strike was unsurprising given that the Western Cape is not directly affected by e-tolling.

If labour brokers were banned, “the companies that make use of the labour brokers will simply get guys off the streets to do the job”, said strike participant Edward Stalwart.

“Nothing will be accomplished by getting rid of labour brokers, it will only make the situation worse.”

Stalwart said rather than call a march, Cosatu should have upped their efforts to negotiate with government and business.

“We have been marching for all these years and we never got answers.  Why would the government and businesses listen to this time around?  This is time wasting,” said Stalwart.

Strike participant Nomangesi Khulumani said better regulation of labour brokers was required, rather than completely scrapping them.

“When an employer employs someone through a labour broker, the employer is assured that the worker is qualified to do the job. This saves time and money for employers looking for the right candidate,” she said.

Marcher Sizwe Ntoni, however, did not agree.

“Labour brokers work more like agents in sport and they take a certain percentage of your income.  With the availability of labour brokers life is easier for employers, but they make life hell for employees”.

Patricia Dyata, secretary of farmworker rights organization Sikhula Sonke, said labour brokers took 50% of the worker’s wages.

“We are dealing with new cases every week where farm workers complains of dire working conditions under the labour brokers,” said Dyata.

Although Ehrenreich mentioned e-tolling when addressing the crowd outside Parliament, he focused on labour broking.

“We don’t want labour brokers in Cape Town and we don’t want toll roads,” said Ehrenreich to raised fists and applause.

“Labour brokers have no value in society.  It is completely unacceptable that labour brokers are taking money from the poor,” he said to the march participants who dispersed without incident in the early afternoon.  – Sandiso Phaliso

Tags: Cosatu, Edward Stalwart, Nomangesi Khulumani, Patricia Dyata, Sikhula Sonke, Sizwe Ntoni, Tony Ehrenreich

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