Government to clamp down on foreign drivers in South Africa

The government will announce several policy changes for drivers following widespread protests in the truck and freight industry.

Drivers are aggrieved about foreign nationals taking up their work opportunities and the lack of regulation around South Africa’s wider transport industry

The Department of Labour and Department of Home Affairs plan to address these issues by clamping down on foreign drivers, introducing stricter border access controls, and introducing new regulations for South African drivers.

“There are Home Affairs and Employment and Labour policy initiatives to address migration and related policy initiatives,” said Labour minister Thulas Nxesi.

“However, I would like to appeal to those who feel aggrieved to desist from intimidation, road disruptions, undermining of existing laws and structures. We made a promise to meet the industry, and we are committed to ensuring that a workable solution is found through legislation and other means.

“We also encouraged that existing forums at national and provincial level take the opportunity to find solutions,” he said.

This was echoed by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who said that the Border Management Authority (BMA) is being set up and will be engaging the trucking sector.

“In the next few weeks, there will be far-reaching leadership and policy interventions by BMA as well as a number of initiatives that we have been involved in to resolve issues around this matter,” said Motsoaledi.

Clampdown 

The Transport department said it is addressing licensing and other issues including:

  • Cross border transport relations;
  • Foreign drivers issued licenses;
  • Fake licences;
  • Prosecution of non-complying employers;
  • Discrimination against local drivers by the industry.

The joint inspection undertaken to address non-compliance in the freight sector will also be intensified with law enforcement, including migration and road traffic and South African Police Services (SAPS) playing a much more active role, Nxesi said.

The government has further committed to doing a scan of migration and transport legislation impacting South African drivers and implementing strict measures against employers who continue to employ people without proper documentation.

“Government prides itself in providing information in an open and transparent manner. We will continue to consult and involve all relevant parties as we continue to resolve this matter,” said Nxesi.

Prohibition on truckers and e-hailing drivers 

Nxesi has previously indicated that the government could introduce a prohibition on foreign workers in certain sectors as part of a new national labour migration policy.

Answering in a written parliamentary Q&A around e-hailing services in South Africa in June, Nxesi said that one of the recommendations emerging from a range of proposals is the concept of introducing complete prohibitions or quotas on the number of foreign nationals that can be employed in any sector. This may include e-hailing transport, he said.

“This will be in line with Section 36 of our Constitution to justify fair discrimination against foreign nationals as part of our efforts to address local high unemployment levels and to uphold existing minimum labour standards.

“I will release the draft policy and the proposed amendments for public discussion and consultation with the social partners as soon as internal government processes are completed.”

In his budget speech at the end of April, Nxesi said that the policy will regulate and limit sectors on the number of people employers can hire from other countries especially in sectors that do not require sophisticated skills.

“We have signed binding international agreements and will ensure that our policy does not conflict with those agreements. In short, whatever we do, will be in line with the Constitution,” he said.

Briefing parliament in March, Nxesi said that the policy would primarily deal with low-skilled workers, with the government expecting a ‘big debate’ given the tensions around foreigners in the country.

Nxesi said that South African employers deliberately prefer foreign workers as a source of cheap labour, as they are willing to take ‘anything’ for wages.

This article was previously published on BusinessTech

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