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NUMSA wins landmark court case against labour brokers

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The apex court has ruled on Thursday that companies that have placed workers from labour brokers will automatically become permanent employees after a three month period.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has welcomed its historic victory against labour brokers. The Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that companies that have placed workers from labour brokers will automatically become permanent employees after a three month period.

The apex court ruled that the principles of the right to fair labour practices must be interpreted and fully applied.

Previously, employees had been contractually obligated to maintain relations with both the company and labour broker in question. Unions have long accused labour brokers of exploiting workers, often paying them less than permanent employees and little to no job security. “Our experience with labour brokers is that they are extremely abusive and expose workers to low wages and terrible working conditions. We hope this decision will be the death knell of the entire industry and, as NUMSA, we will continue to fight for a total ban on Labour brokers. We call on all casual workers to unite behind NUMSA so we can ensure their rights in the workplace”, spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said.

Hlubi-Majola adds that the ruling will strengthen the rights of temporary workers.

Labour brokers had argued in the constitutional court that eliminating  them from the equation, once the three month period lapses, would hinder the rights and protection of vulnerable employees. The matter, which sought to make sense of  section 198a of the Labour Relations Act, was originally before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and later referred to the Labour Court in 2015.

Thabo Baloyi
[email protected]

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