Samantha’s Cell Plus Sound shop in the Joburg CBD. Picture: JAMES OATWAY
Samantha’s Cell Plus Sound shop in the Joburg CBD. Picture: JAMES OATWAY

As the economy bites deeper we will see more big businesses, especially those in the retail industry, either closing stores or cutting their staff (Massmart may shut 34 stores, cut 1,500 jobs, January 14). The private sector reacts harshly when making losses, unlike the public sector.

For the past 15 years the DA and many international economists have been predicting that large businesses will shrink, and that the net job creators of the future will be small businesses. It is clear from this that the government should create an environment enabling small business to thrive. Big businesses can hire expensive labour lawyers, have an army of administrators and structure their hiring and firing to comply with the most convoluted legislation.

SA has some of the most protective labour legal structures, which were intended to correct the negative labour practices of the past. However, this heavy yoke of labour legislation is backfiring on small business in SA, small black business in particular.

Many of the small businesses I deal with have indicated that they either have to skirt around legislation or don’t hire at all. Many of them in the previously disadvantaged areas have so many additional disadvantages heaped on them by the labour regime that they are barely able to survive, let alone thrive.

It would cost nothing and would not in any way destroy our labour relations legislation if we made some small exemptions for small business. Even one of the suggestions made by our finance minister, such as decoupling small business from the bargaining councils, would be fantastic. The minister has even gone so far as stating that this could create 1-million jobs in itself.

Sadly, the governing regime would rather appease the trade union movement, even if means bringing the country to its knees.

Michael Bagraim, MP
Shadow deputy employment & labour minister