30/08/2013 Zizi Kodwa during the ANC alliance summit at St Georges Hotel in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma's signing of the Labour Relations Amendment Act is a “major step forward”, the African National Congress said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the act would improve workers' constitutional rights and promote fair labour practices.

“The ANC is particularly pleased that the Labour Relations Amendment Act deals decisively with the untenable exploitation of workers through labour brokers,” Kodwa said in a statement.

“The act ensures greater protection for workers placed in temporary employment services in that they cannot be treated unequally from any other employee performing the same or similar work.”

The presidency announced the signing of the act on Sunday.

Spokesman Mac Maharaj said the act sought to respond to the increased informalisation of labour, to ensure that vulnerable groups received adequate protection and were given decent work.

It was aimed at ensuring that labour legislation gave effect to fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to fair labour practices, to engage in collective bargaining, and the right to equality and protection from unfair discrimination.

Kodwa hailed a section of the act which stated that employees could only have workers on a temporary basis or fixed-term contract for three months.

“Following which the employee will be entitled to equal benefits and conditions as employees employed permanently, barring a few exceptions identified within the act.