Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi says that his department has been working closely with the International Labour Organisation in the commissioning and development of a new national labour migration policy.
Answering in a written parliamentary Q&A around e-hailing services in South Africa, Nxesi said that one of the recommendations emerging from a range of proposals is the concept of introducing complete prohibitions or quotas on the number of foreign nationals that can be employed in any sector.
This may include e-hailing transport, he said.
“This will be in line with Section 36 of our Constitution to justify fair discrimination against foreign nationals as part of our efforts to address local high unemployment levels and to uphold existing minimum labour standards.
“I will release the draft policy and the proposed amendments for public discussion and consultation with the social partners as soon as internal government processes are completed.”
Other sectors being looked at
In his budget speech at the end of April, Nxesi said that the policy will regulate and limit sectors on the number of people employers can hire from other countries especially in sectors that do not require sophisticated skills.
“We have signed binding international agreements and will ensure that our policy does not conflict with those agreements. In short, whatever we do, will be in line with the Constitution,” he said.
Briefing parliament in March, Nxesi said that the policy would primarily deal with low-skilled workers, with the government expecting a ‘big debate’ given the tensions around foreigners in the country.
Nxesi said that South African employers deliberately prefer foreign workers as a source of cheap labour, as they are willing to take ‘anything’ for wages.
The minister said that a number of interventions were being considered as part of the policy, but confirmed that his department was considering the introduction of quotas that would specify how many foreign workers could be hired in a given sector.
Based on previous comments by Nxesi, the sectors which are likely to be directed impacted by the labour migration policy include:
- The hospitality sector;
- Farming and agriculture.
Specific jobs such as restaurant waiters and truck drivers are also likely to come under scrutiny as they have previously been identified by the department as having a high concentration of foreign workers.