Why Many Unions Lie About Labour Brokers.

Why Many Unions Lie About Labour Brokers.

Mr Patrick Craven and his union colleagues are not telling the public the truth about why they are opposed to labour brokers.  Mr Craven uses the term “human traffickers and that labour brokers do not “create” jobs.


Human trafficking is involuntary servitude. A labour broker is a supplier of free labour to industry. The worker elects to enter into an employment contract with the supplier and is placed at the sites of the supplier’s clients. How can this be forced labour (involuntary servitude)?


Mr Craven also chooses his words deliberately very carefully by using the word “create”. Whilst it may be argued that suppliers of labour do not “create” jobs by establishing factories, they do “provide” jobs for those seeking employment from amongst those who would otherwise not find jobs for two reasons: (a) brokers are in the business of finding jobs whereas ordinary citizens are not able to do so as efficiently and (b) businesses seeking labour through an agency or broker will not directly employ the job-seeker nor offer the job to such a person.


The 800 000 people (which is an extremely conservative figure) employed through brokers have been provided jobs by the brokers. By focusing on creation instead of provision, misses the point, perhaps deliberately so. Labour brokers are efficient employment facilitators.


The truth behind union calls for banning brokers has nothing to do with workers’ rights and freedoms. These are the facts:


Every worker, whether outsourced or not:

  • Has the right to join a union
  • Has access to the CCMA for unfair dismissal purposes
  • Must receive a minimum wage set by bargaining councils or sectoral determinations
  • Must be issued with written particulars of employment.
  • Has access to UIF and other statutory social benefits


So, it is not for rights and freedoms that the union’s cry. No, the real reason is a selfish one – a matter of self-interest.


Unions rely on membership fees from those who have joined the union. Outsourced workers are more difficult for unions to “organise” – that is, to sign up for payment of union fees. Brokers supply labour to many and varied clients thereby making it difficult for those workers to be “organised”.


A banning of brokers may well see an increase in the ranks of COSATU with commensurate increases in union income and socio-political power.


That, Mr Craven, is the truth of the matter.


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