Last week an exasperated black small business owner wrote to me. His small firm is being hounded by the law for refusing to register with the furniture bargaining council — a legal requirement in SA. He has written to the authorities, begging them to see reason since he is not only facing fines but even threats to attach his machines.

It’s a story that’s been told many times: the bargaining council system is dominated by big firms that are better able to handle its intensely bureaucratic obligations. They also set the tone for wage negotiations, agreeing to a cost structure that often cannot be borne by the smaller players. This stifles the growth of small firms and retards job creation...

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