Amendment of Hours of Work for Security Guards: discussion

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Employment and Labour

14 February 2000
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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 February 2000
AMENDMENT OF THE HOURS OF WORK FOR SECURITY GUARDS

Documents handed out:
Amendment to Transitional Provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act for Security Guards (included in the minutes)

MINUTES
Ms L Seftel, the Chief Director of Labour Relations at the Department , made the following points on the amendment to the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act for security guards:

1. Background information
1.1 There are about 175 000 security guards in South Africa. Twelve unions represent about 55 000 workers.
1.2 Some security guards are covered by collective agreements of another sector. For example the single guard in a clothing company may be covered by the collective agreement of the clothing sector. However the vast majority of security guards are regarded as part of the private security sector.
1.3 This sector does not have a bargaining council. Over the years an informal national bargaining forum has developed where representatives of trade unions and the two major employer bodies come together and negotiate wages and working conditions.
1.4 The parties then jointly approach the Department of Labour to include the outcome of their collective agreement in a statutory determination.

2. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the security sector
2.1. The BCEA says that all workers should work 45 ordinary hours in a week.
2.2. However it introduced a number of 'transitional provisions' in Schedule Three of the Act to manage the transition from longer hours to a 45-hour week.
2.3. In respect of security guards who under the old Act were entitled to work 60 hours a week, Section 5 of the transitional provisions say that security workers wages should have gone down to 55 hours per week, one year after the Act was put into effect, 50 hours after the next year and to 45 hours per week in the third year.
2.4. The Act also provides mechanisms to enable the Minister to amend the transitional provision. The transitional provisions do not deal with policy matters but are included to manage the transition from the old situation to the new one.
2.5. Section 95 of the BCEA says that the Minister may change a transitional provision by tabling the change in the National Assembly for 14 days. It takes effect if the National Assembly does NOT pass a resolution that the change is binding and on publication in the Government Gazette.

3. Present regulatory framework for security guards
3.1. Presently, workers are still covered by a Wage Determination under the old Wage Act.
3.2 In terms of Section 9 of Schedule 3 on transitional provisions, a wage determination stays in place until replaced by Sectoral determination.
3.3 Minister asked for an investigation to draft a Sectoral Determination. This has been done and the Employment Conditions Commission has advised the Minister on a sectoral determination.

4. The need for a change to the transitional provisions
4.1. In terms of Section 5 of transitional provisions hours of work for security guards would have had to gone down to 55 hours per week on December 1998 and 50 hours per week on 1 Dec 1999.
4.2. This has not happened because the industry still regulated by a Wage Determination.
4.3. Ordinary hours of work in the Wage Determination are 60 per week. If the Minister now introduces a Sectoral Determination, hours will have to go down immediately from 60 to 50.
4.4 This would lead to a reduction in workers take home wages and would mean a very significant change of shift patterns. In the BCEA, the legislature envisaged phasing down at 5 hours per year.
4.5 Negotiations concluded by employers and unions in June 1999 was premised on a reduction from 60 to 55. They wrote to the Minister of Labour requesting that he amend the transitional provisions of the BCEA.
4.6. The Employment Conditions Commission also requested the Minister of Labour to amend the transitional provisions.

5. What is the effect of the proposed amendment to the transitional provisions
5.1. Security guards whose conditions of work and wages are determined by collective agreements linked to other sectors and who have already reduced hours of work from 60 to 55 on 1 December 1998 and to 50 on 1 December 1999 would remain unaffected.
5.2. Security guards in the private security sector's hours of work would go down from 60 to 55 when the Minister publishes the sectoral determination. Their hours of work will go down a further 5 hours per week in 2001 and to 45 hours per week in 2002.

6. Concluding remarks
6.1. Due to the above mentioned problem workers have not received wage increases since September 1998. There is thus a request from both employers and employees to deal with this matter speedily.
6.2. A more comprehensive solution is needed in respect of the regulatory
environment for security workers including in respect of:
· hours of work
· Wages
· provident fund and other benefits
· possible bargaining council
6.2. All the parties are committed to work on this.

The Committee accepted the amendment and recommended that it should be implemented.

The meeting was adjourned.

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