The unregulated nature of labour brokerage practices have been at the centre of debate around job creation and retention in South Africa. The portfolio committee on labour has entertained various industry and stakeholder submissions in respect of the proposed labour law amendment amid calls to scraping labour brokerage.
One argument that has come to the fore in the past is that 28 000 people will lose their jobs if proposed changes were to be passed. This figure directly relates to the labour broking industry in which 10 000 people are employed alone by one of SA's largest temporary employment services firms.
There is no commonly accepted definition of outsourced service providers and, therefore, no reliable statistics available as to how many people are employed within the sector. However, it is likely that the total number of people employed in business outsourcing exceeds that of labour broking.
Often the difference between outsourcing and labour broking is misunderstood, resulting in outsourcing groups coming under fire from members of the public who are opposed to labour broking.
There is a need for people to understand the difference between outsourcing and labour broking. As facilities management specialists our expertise lies in helping companies to manage their facilities better, allowing them to concentrate on their core business; we provide a range of service from manning reception desks to repairs and maintenance on critical equipment like generators.
In many cases outsourcing service providers offer services that companies would not be able to do themselves because they lack the skills and, therefore, cannot run the service optimally. The key difference between the two practices is that labour brokers provide temporary labour to companies, while outsourcing is permanent employment and employees are afforded the full protection of the Labour Relations Act. Companies like Tsebo, provide a range of specialist business services to companies and permanent employment, as well as defined career paths within the outsourcing sector because, typically, services are offered long term on hundreds of sites across dozens of contracts.
Outsourcing itself is poorly understood with the misconception that it involves offshoring jobs. This misconception most probably arose with the offshoring of customer contact centres by American and European companies a few years ago.
Furthermore, the outsourcing industry in South Africa supports a significant portion of the economy as it contributes to job creation and allows for growth in small businesses. For example, when the outsourcing of repairs and maintenance is required, the work is often given to local businesses, such as plumbers or electricians. This directly contributes not only to job creation, but because many of these small businesses are community based, the socio-economic upliftment of communities. In excess of 17 000 people are employed by the Tsebo group.
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