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Organised business is hopeful that "ground-breaking" labour law amendments, which include the national minimum wage (NMW) bill passed by parliament last week, will usher in a period of labour stability. But with the economy continuing to shed jobs and with inter-union rivalry on the rise, labour-market peace may remain elusive. Even more important in such a job-starved economy is whether the reforms will close off first-time job opportunities. This is the primary concern of professor Haroon Bhorat, head of the Development Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He was the lead author of UCT research that found that an NMW of about R20 an hour could cause more than 500,000 job losses. "It is not clear whether a more stable industrial relations environment — amid a new legislative amendments environment that may threaten future job creation — is a step forward for our economy," he says. But Business Unity SA (Busa) is bullish. In exchange for agreeing to an NMW of R...

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