Hon Chair, although the committee was able to agree on certain cosmetic aspects of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, there are still critical shortcomings at the core of this Bill. The Bill is nothing more than an ANC ploy ahead of this year's elections to appease unions like Cosatu, that have propped up President Zuma.
In regard to our labour relations regime, it is business as usual, since the Bill fails to adequately address often protracted labour unrest within the South African economy. Given the recent number of violent strikes in South Africa and the inability of unions to control their supporters, the free rein this Bill provides unions with will kill jobs and endanger the lives of strike participants and members of the public.
Workers remain the most vulnerable victims of the reckless industrial action that this Bill promotes, with the latest departmental figures showing that 45 of the 99 strikes recorded were unprotected and that wages lost skyrocketed by 500% to R6,7 billion. The Bill fails to introduce secret balloting as an effective mechanism to hand power back to the workers before the commencement of a strike.
Protracted strike action ultimately hurts us all, hampering direct investment in some of the most vital industries in the South African economy and prohibiting the creation of jobs. Economic growth cannot flourish in a hostile business environment.
We recognise workers' right to engage in lawful and peaceful strike action, but believe that a balance must be struck between protecting the rights of workers and ensuring the stable economic growth that creates jobs. We believe that jobs can be created through creating a flexible labour regime that bolsters the small business sector, equipping South Africans with an education that gives job seekers marketable skills, and democratising wage negotiations. This is the only way to deliver jobs to South Africa's poor and unemployed.
For the reasons advanced above, the ID cannot support the Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]