Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi says that government is looking at new regulations to limit the employment of foreign nationals in South Africa.
Nxesi was responding to ongoing violence and protest action by South Africans truck sector, with some of the major complaints focusing on the loss of jobs to immigrant workers.
Speaking in an interview with eNCA, Nxesi said that the new legislation would not only be limited to the road and freight sector but also other industries which employ a high number of foreign workers.
- The hospitality sector;
- Farming and agriculture.
“We are looking into this matter in a proper way. However, it is important to remember that we can’t just ‘do away with foreigners’. Some of them are refugees and legally supposed to be here,” he said.
“The issue that we have to deal with is the illegal people which have been employed without any papers from Home Affairs.”
Nxesi said that the country’s labour laws state that South Africans should be given preference, but he noted that some bodies were pushing for a complete ban on foreigners in the trucking sector.
Nxeisi’s latest comments echo those he made at the end of 2019 when he said that his department would clamp down on employers not complying with the country’s labour laws, by unlawfully hiring foreign workers.
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 at the time.
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.
The Department of Small Business Development has said that it is also 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.