It has been a slow start to 2017 in the industrial relations sense. Thankfully, this has meant that we have had few strikes and no major retrenchments.
On the legislative side, there is pending legislation with changes to the UIF, maternity leave and possible strike action. We will keep our clients abreast of all these changes when they become imminent.
Nedlac is meeting on a regular basis discussing the minimum wage. We do not see an end in sight and it is believed that the government will not be able to implement a minimum wage at least until the end of this year. This figure is being hotly debated and it will range between three thousand and four thousand rand.
Nedlac is also debating ways and means of avoiding protracted strikes. This will mean that any strike that threatens the economy or a particular industry will have to go to some sort of interest arbitration. It will be interesting to see what comes out of Nedlac in due course.
Nedlac is also debating the issue of legislation for a secret ballot before any strike takes place. It does appear that the government is at last worried about the effect of crippling strikes on our economy.
The wage demands appear to be slightly down from this year and most probably, the average will be down to about five to eight percent.
We have just seen an interesting case in the courts where the Labour Appeal Court said that it was valid and fair to dismiss an employee who had failed to comply with safety rules and regulations. Again, the courts are looking at the trust relationship between employer and employee.
The Department of Labour has had its fair share of trouble and we are still seeing major delays in the UIF payments and extraordinarily long periods before anyone is paid their workmen’s compensation. We are led to understand that there are still about fifty thousand workmen’s compensation claims in their backlog.