Many of South Africa’s 9.4-million unemployed citizens are being denied the right to work on their own terms, says Free Market Foundation (FMF) director Eustace Davie.
Speaking at an event focused on unemployment in South Africa, on Wednesday, he said labour laws actively prevent people from being offered and accepting a job, or a day, week or month’s work on terms acceptable to that individual.
“South Africa’s unemployed people are subjected to the appalling indignity of being denied the right to negotiate freely with potential employers who, in turn, are prevented by the labour laws from employing them on mutually agreeable terms,” he said.
He added that the denial of the rights of the unemployed is unconstitutional and should be “remedied without delay”.
“Exempting the unemployed from those provisions of the laws that keep them unemployed would restore their Constitutional rights . . . without threatening the job security of those who already have jobs.”
Davie further stated that if employment contracts were freely negotiated between the parties on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis, there would be little to no unemployment.
Mass unemployment, he said, only occurred when there are powerful blocking agents that prevent unemployed people from negotiating with employers for jobs on conditions of employment and at wages acceptable to them.
“That there are 9.4-million unemployed South Africans, six-million of whom are 34 years old or younger, attests to the fact that the laws and regulations adopted by Parliament have led to this calamitous situation,” he averred.
Davie added that the implementation of a national minimum wage would create an even more severe barrier to entry into the job market that would result in more people remaining unemployed or becoming unemployed.
“While those who advocate job security laws and minimum wage provisions may mean well, these measures represent the ‘blocking agents’ that prevent millions of unfortunate South Africans from working,” he said.