Employment and Labour minister, Thulas Nxesi, says that his department will clamp down on employers not complying with the country’s labour laws by unlawfully hiring foreign workers.
Speaking at a departmental ceremony on Thursday (26 September), Nxesi said that the influx and employment of displaced foreign nationals in the country was not of their making and that the situation was ‘getting out of hand’.
“We cannot in this day-and-age continue with the employment of foreign nationals, and think there will be peace if you are going to take low-level jobs of low-skilled people and give it to displaced people,” he said.
The minister said the intention of employing displaced people was a deliberate act by unscrupulous employers to pay them ‘starvation wages’.
“The intention is to employ displaced people and pay them starvation wages, make them to work long hours, make them to sleep on top of the shops.
“The intention is very simple – it is designed to boost profits through cheap labour,” said the minister.
Nxesi identified hospitality, restaurant, construction, and security as sectors exploiting the displaced foreigners. He said the ‘phenomenon’ was now extending into the retail sector.
“These are not scarce skills jobs. These are jobs that local people can be able to do. Inspectors must deal harshly with employers not complying,” he said.
Nxesi’s speech follows confirmation that the Department of Small Business Development is working on a new law that will restrict foreigners from working in certain sections of the economy.
Small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that the legislation in line with other countries – such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe – that have regulations specifying the sectors where foreign nationals are not allowed to participate.
Ntshavheni said that South Africans have a penchant to hire other South Africans, and that locals will take up the chance for employment if more opportunities are offered to them.
“We are not only introducing legislation to say which sectors are restricted to South Africans but we are also establishing support mechanisms for those South African who are operating in these sectors,” she said.