Local Job Seekers Up In Arms About Importation Of Migrant Labour In Construction

It has been alleged that some construction companies in the South Durban Basin have been importing and employing  foreign labour. Emotions are running high as employees are raising concerns about local industry hiring more foreign nationals than locals.

South Africa is a popular destination for immigrants, especially from East Asian countries, and Croatia. Their presence on construction job sites has had a profound effect on the employment chances of South Africans 

                                     Employed Migrant Foreign Workers

Sometimes undocumented migrants are employed in a variety of sectors of the South African economy, and form one of the most exploited and vulnerable groups of workers in the country. Because of their illegal status, undocumented migrants are compelled to accept employment whatever the payment, risk, physical demand or working hours involved are.

Officials at South Durban Basin Community Development Trust; a community based organisation, whose aim is to eradicate the escalating socio-economic issues in the South Durban Basin community were bombarded with queries by irate job seekers, regarding the blatant employment of foreign labour while scores of local labour remain unemployed.They intimated that this is in violation of the; Critical Skills Shortage clause, which states that;

If an occupation is on a shortage list, positions in that occupation are not subject to an individual labour market test. A labour market test means that an employer must demonstrate that no suitable South African is available to fill or be trained for each individual position.

If the position you want to fill is on one of these lists it means suitable South Africans are hard to find and a visa can be granted to a qualified  foreign worker.

                                      Irate Local Unemployed Job Seekers

Critical skills  refers to particular capabilities needed within an occupation. There is also a distinction between absolute and relative scarcity of skills.

Further to this, the directive states that, for a general work permit, the application has to be accompanied by a certificate from the Department of Labour or an estimate from the database of a salary benchmark in the organisation stipulating the average salary earned by others in similar positions in the republic. It has to indicate that there has been a diligent search for a local worker, if no local is able to fill the post, then  there would be a need for a foreign national to fill the position.

The job seekers state that the law clearly places the onus on the employer to comply with the relevant legislation and holds the employer liable for non-compliance, and they need answers in this regard.

That said, employment of foreigners is designed to be a short-term measure to bridge the skills shortage within an employer’s business and to facilitate the transfer of skills.Employers should, therefore, ensure that the relevant skills are transferred to a South African citizen and that the necessary time and resources are invested in transferring and retaining the skills in South Africa.

By: Lorraine Richards

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