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JOINT MONITORING COMMITTEE ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF QUALITY OF LIFE AND STATUS OF WOMEN
9 MAY 2001
REPORT ON RURAL WOMEN’S WORKSHOP, REPORT ON UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BILL, BUDGET HEARINGS STRATEGY
Chairperson: Ms P Govender
Documents handed out
Background to the formulation of the Unemployment Insurance Bill (see Appendix 1)
Report on the Rural Woman’s Workshop (see Appendix 2)
The Parliamentary Participation Unit organised a workshop for the 3 May 2001 aimed at educating rural women. The workshop was cancelled when a group of 35 IFP followers claimed that local leadership had not been informed of the workshop. Furthermore, they claimed that ANC delegates entered an IFP region without IFP consent. The Gender Committee was briefed on the event and took a decision that Parliament need not ask the permission of local leadership to engage in parliamentary related work. The Parliamentary Participation Unit stressed that the IFP followers had threatened the lives of the delegates. The Committee agreed to table a report on the incident in parliament and that a debate would follow.
The Chairperson of the Labour Committee addressed the gender committee on the proposed Unemployment Insurance Bill and its impact on domestic workers.
The Chairperson of the Gender Committee outlined the Committee’s strategy for the proposed budget hearings.
Report on the Rural Women’s Workshop held at the Nongoma Social Welfare Offices
The Parliamentary Participation Unit’s workshop in Kwazulu Natal was disrupted by members of the IFP on the basis that the IFP were not informed of the workshop. Mr Ntuli (ANC), a member present at the disrupted rural women’s workshop, made an oral submission to the committee.
Mr Ntuli stated that a group of ANC and IFP members of parliament were threatened by 35 IFP members led by their local leader, Councillor Mr Mtimande. Delegates at the workshop were told to vacate the premises because Nongoma was an IFP area. Mr Ntuli said that he waited in his car for Mrs Vilakazi (IFP) and another IFP member to exit the building, but they did not. The IFP group assumed that he was resisting and he was forced to drive off the premises. Mr Ntuli said that he asked for police assistance to escort Mrs Vilakazi off the premises. Mr Ntuli stated that he believed his life to be threatened and drove to Ulundi without Mrs Vilakazi, where he made a report to the speaker.
Mrs Vilakazi submitted that she supported Mr Ntuli’s version. Mrs Vilakazi added that she had tried to explain to the group of IFP supporters the reason for the delegation’s presence and that the delegation was non-partisan. Mrs Vilakazi explained that whilst attempting to leave, the rural women who knew her, asked that she stay behind. Whilst she was in discussion with them, the other delegates left.
The Chairperson then asked the committee for submissions regarding steps to be taken to ensure that similar incidents did not occur and asked for direction as to how the committee could take this incident through parliament to ensure that the 35 or so IFP followers were disciplined.
A member of the DP who was present at the time of the incident suggested that a charge be laid against the 35 IFP supporters.
A member of the ANC supported this suggestion. He stated that he was disturbed by an address in parliament where it was suggested that " the ANC should have been more prepared ". The member suggested that the matter be debated in parliament since everybody in parliament was affected by the incident.
Mrs Vilakazi (IFP) indicated support for a parliamentary debate on the matter.
The Chairperson summarised the committee’s suggestions. The first suggestion was to lay charges against the relevant group of IFP followers and the second suggestion was a debate in parliament. Ms Govender expressed concern for the safety of the rural women who had assisted in organising the workshop since they would now be accused of inviting the ANC to the area without informing IFP leadership in the area. Ms Govender suggested that the committee issue a statement expressing its concern for the safety of rural women engaged in work with parliament. Ms Govender further submitted that although local leadership should be informed of events, parliament need not seek permission to do parliamentary work.
Some members cast doubt on the suggestion that the IFP followers could be positively identified. Another member suggested that the IFP councillor, Mr Mtimande, should be charged and struck off as a councillor.
A member stated that Nongoma is historically a problem area and that a solution should be discussed at leadership level.
A DP member suggested that the committee should establish whether or not the IFP leadership was informed of the workshop. An ANC member stated that one of the delegates confirmed that a letter was sent to the IFP prior to the workshop. The member added that the speaker at Ulundi had also confirmed that the correct procedure was followed but that the presence of a particular NCOP member had angered the IFP leadership.
In conclusion, the following was tabled:
1) Additions would be made to the workshop report, the report would be tabled in parliament and a debate would follow;
2) The Chairperson would draft a statement on behalf of the committee which would be issued to the affected IFP and ANC members;
3) The committee would seek legal advice and a charge would be laid against the IFP councillor and identifiable IFP followers;
4) The social services department should issue a statement since the department was closed on the day of the incident and one of their members was affected;
5) The IFP leadership should investigate and discipline the implicated IFP followers.
Mrs Vilakazi (IFP) suggested that it should not be the exclusive task of the IFP to investigate IFP members.
The chairperson concluded by suggesting that the committee write a letter to the speaker of parliament and the chair of the NCOP. The letter would request the speaker and chair to investigate policies to ensure the safety of women assisting parliament in it’s work, especially the lives of those women affected by the disruption of the workshop.
Department of Labour Report on the Proposed Unemployment Insurance Bill and it’s impact upon Domestic Workers
Mr Salie Manie, Chairperson of the Labour Committee, presented to the committee.
Mr Manie stated that the Unemployment Insurance Bill is being completely re-written. The Bill was written in 1996 as circumstances have changed there is a need for the Bill to consider marginalised groups. Mr Manie added that at present the Bill excludes farm workers and domestic workers, subject to an investigation determining logistical matters. Based on recommendations from these investigations, Mr Manie explained that domestic workers might be included.
Mr Manie stated that following public hearings and presentations, recommendations were made on the issue. Subsequently, the Labour Committee has decided to include both farm and domestic workers in the act. Mr Manie highlighted the difficulties associated with the inclusion of domestic workers in unemployment insurance coverage, specifically the registration of employees and the collection of employer contributions.
Mr Manie emphasised that the Labour and Gender Committee should jointly track the implementation of the legislation. Mr Manie stated that although the SARS and Department of Labour were committed to the legislation, he feared that the Bill would not be passed if it were not implementable. Hence Mr Manie suggested that stakeholders outside of parliament be engaged in order to assist the department implement the legislation.
Mr Manie then referred to the Employment Equity Act and asked the Gender Committee for guidance as to how the Gender and Labour Committee could work together in ensuring gender and disability equity, specifically in the public sector. Mr Manie suggested a joint Gender and Labour Committee hearing where stakeholders could present ways in which to implement and fast track legislation.
Mr Manie then suggested that the Labour and Gender Committee’s also work together in establishing recommendations for the Minister of Labour’s sectoral determinations. Mr Manie explained that sectoral determinations do not take the form of legislation but that the Minister makes sectoral determinations based on information received and that these determinations have the force of legislation. Mr Manie highlighted that the issue of a minimum wage for domestic and farm workers needed particular consideration within the Labour and Gender Committee’s and that any recommendations should be forwarded to the Minister of Labour before sectoral determinations were made.
The Chairperson asked Mr Manie for clarity regarding the numbers of women and posts held by women in the public service. Furthermore Ms Govender asked whether additional investigations concerning the inclusion of domestic and seasonal workers were necessary since two investigations had already taken place. Ms Govender questioned the need for a third investigation, the extent to which a third investigation would differ from the existing investigations and questioned the potential cost of a third investigation. Finally Ms Govender requested clarity as to the cost of contributions to the UIF and for suggestions on how to manage the cost of the UIF.
A member of the ANC stated that the committee should consider the Scandinavian model of domestic worker contributions. In addition, the member stated that the issue of UIF relating to domestic workers had to be considered in conjunction with the minimum wage discussion and the entire transformation of the country’s welfare policy. The member highlighted that at present domestic workers do not enjoy welfare privileges.
An ANC member stated that whilst the lack of definition for a domestic worker might explain the exclusion of domestic workers within the Bill, a definition did exist for farm workers. The member then asked why farm workers were excluded from the Bill.
Mr Manie attempted a reply by stating that the department of labour had sought legal counsel with regards to the definition of a public sector worker and that the department had been advised to include these persons under the Unemployment Insurance Bill. Mr Manie added that the Labour Committee was currently dealing with the issue of farm workers and that generally the committee held the view that farm workers should be included in the Bill.
As regards the need for further investigation into whether farm workers and domestic workers should be included in the UIF Bill, Mr Manie stated that he supported past investigations and the recommendation that domestic workers should be included in the Bill. However, Mr Manie stressed that further investigation was still necessary to assess the envisaged difficulty relating to the implementation of the Bill. Furthermore, Mr Manie agreed with the view that the issue of a minimum wage and domestic worker contributions had to be considered simultaneously.
A member stated that she understood that domestic workers would be included in the Bill but stated that she remained uncertain as to how the collection of monies towards the unemployment insurance fund would be made cost effective.
Ms Mbuyazi suggested that the committee hold another workshop to discuss the issue of a basic salary/ minimum wage. In addition, Ms Mbuyazi suggested that various domestic worker unions be invited to address Parliament on the issue of minimum wage.
An ANC member commented that the committee should give close consideration to the definition of a minimum wage and the collection of UIF contributions since the creation of a minimum wage may create greater job losses than new employment.
A committee member stated that the Gender Committee should not be discussing the issue of a minimum wage but that the Labour Committee should deal with the issue.
The Chairperson suggested that the committee should work together with the labour committee on the issues of race and gender. Ms Govender stated that although there was an increase in the number of women who had jobs, this increase was reflected in the survival sector whilst a decrease was reflected in the formal sector. Ms Govender mandated the formation of a sub-committee inclusive of labour and gender committee members.
The chairperson requested that Mr Manie brief the Gender Committee before the bill was passed.
Budget Hearings Strategy
A draft strategy was presented to members. The draft includes the following:
i) A briefing from the Public Prosecutors office on the issues of customary law, inheritance and the implementation of laws, maintenance, domestic violence and customary marriages;
ii) A meeting with the Minister of Labour with regard to the implementation of the women’s budget;
iii) Issuing invitations to organisations involved with HIV, poverty, violence against women, and related NGO’s to address the committee;
iv) Attending an address by the Minister of Finance, Trade and Industry to discuss the budget allocated to women;
v) Considering proposals emanating from violence legislation and calling the relevant Ministers before the committee;
vi) Calling Ministries to address the committee on areas of the budget relating to women;
specifically the impact of the budget in relation to women and AID’s and women in poverty.
vii) Stimulating reports from the different provinces on the issue on violence against women in preparation for a presentation to the Ministers of Safety and Security and Justice;
viii) Supporting and recognising gender desks located in other provinces and increasing their monitoring abilities.
The Unemployment Insurance Bill
Background to the Formulation of the Bill
The Unemployment Insurance Bill (hereafter referred to as the "Bill") seeks to repeal the archaic Unemployment Insurance Act 30 of 1996, which was not only financially unviable but also characterised by discriminatory practices. The Bill tries in effect to create a comprehensive social security system.
The Bill was tabled on the 26th January 2000. The aim and purpose of the Bill is to:
· Consolidate the laws on unemployment insurance;
· To provide for employees who are unemployed from contributions made by employees and employers;
· To establish the Unemployment Insurance Board;
· To improve the functioning of and controls over the Unemployment Insurance Fund; and,
· To provide for the expeditious resolution of disputes concerning unemployment benefits; and
· To provide for related matters.
The proposed Bill, according to the Minister, also removes all discrimination based on gender, particularly with regard to maternity leave and adoption benefits. Currently, legislation provides for the payment of 40% of the last wage for six months for maternity leave. The new legislation therefore proposes to eliminate this discrimination by separating maternity and unemployment benefits so that employees who go on maternity leave do so without having to draw down their unemployment benefits. The Bill also proposes payment of benefits to women who have had miscarriages for still born babies. Discrimination in terms for adoption benefits has been removed. The waiting period for a child to apply for a dependent’s benefits has been reduced to six months instead of the current three years.
However, many submissions and comments to the release of the Bill (March 2000) point out Section 3 of the Bill discriminates against the most vulnerable groups, both in terms of race and gender. Section 3 of the Bill, "Application of the Bill" reads:
3. (1)(1) This Act applies to all employers and employees, other than –
(a)employees employed for less than 24 hours a month with a particular employer, and their employers;
(b)employees who receive remuneration under a learnership agreement registered in terms of the Skills Employment Act, 1998 (Act No. 97 of 1998), and their employers;
(c) employers and employees in the national and provincial spheres of government;
(d) persons who enter the Republic for the purpose of carrying out a contract of service, apprenticeship or learnership within the Republic if upon the termination thereof the employer is required by law or by the contract of service, apprenticeship of leadership, as the case may be, or by any other agreement or undertaking, to repatriate that person, or that person is so required to leave the Republic, and their employers; and
(e) domestic and seasonal workers and their employers.
(2) (a) The Minister must, as soon as possible after this section takes effect, designate or appoint a body which must seek to investigate and make recommendations regarding the inclusion of domestic and seasonal workers under the application of this Act.
(b) The investigation must be concluded within 18 months from the date that this section takes effect.
(c) The Minister must consult with the Board on the outcome of the investigation.
The section above, viewed from a gendered analysis, provides concerns and these have been relayed to the Department of Labour as well as to the Portfolio Committee on Labour. The following is a summary of problems encountered with the release of the Bill in March 2000 from various stakeholders.
· The exclusion of domestic workers, seasonal workers and public servants can be seen as unconstitutional;
· An investigation into whether seasonal and domestic workers be brought in is unnecessary as two investigations (the 1993 Limbrick and 1996 Task Team Reports) recommended the inclusion of vulnerable workers in society to unemployment benefits and the Bill expressly excludes them. The Limbrick Report has offered a mechanism of alleviating administrative problems to collect employer contributions with regard to domestic workers. The question asked is: "Is it necessary to have another investigation for that period of time when all of these are detailed in these two reports?"
· A more clear and preferable approach would be to provide for deferred inclusion of domestic workers rather than temporary exclusion. The application of the Act to domestic workers and their employers should be deferred for one year from the date of the promulgation of the Act rather than 18 months.
· Single sex couples and unmarried couples with children are given the same rights to dependency benefits as couples.
· Allow the applicant to select the office that is most convenient instead of designated offices.
The opposition to the exclusion of domestic workers and seasonal workers from a wide range of lobby groups ensured that the Bill was sent back to the Department of Labour for redrafting to include domestic workers and seasonal workers. The Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises completed two days of public hearings on the 19 and 20th March 2001. The appendices attached to this document detail the outcome of the two days of hearings – this includes the submissions, the response of the department to the submissions as well as the proposed amendments to the Bill.
However, of crucial importance is the following:
· When will the next redrafting process to include the proposed amendments take place?
· Will there be a simplified version of the Act for employees and employers?
· To what extent will the recommendations of the two reports be used in dealing with administrative matters regarding domestic and seasonal workers?
· What penalties can employers of domestic workers face if they either dismiss or refuse to contribute toward unemployment insurance benefits?
To: Thaabit Albertus
From: Joy Watson
Date: 9 May 2001
Subject: Report on Rural Women’s Workshop in Nongoma
The workshop in Nongoma constitutes part of the Rural Women’s Project which was implemented in the time period 17 April – 4 May in Mpumalanga, Northern Province, Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. This project is a joint project of the PPU and Committee on the Improvement of the Quality of Life and Status of Women. The objectives of the project were as follows:
· to create an understanding amongst a sample of rural women of democracy in relation to participating in democratic processes;
· to generate an understanding of Parliament and the law making process;
· to generate an understanding of how to get involved in legislative processes;
· to obtain submissions on how women have experienced the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act;
· to obtain submissions on legislative needs with respect to issues of inheritance and succession.
A total of twenty four workshops have been conducted, with an estimated outreach to approximately 960 participants. All the workshops have taken place without incident, with the exception of the one in Nongoma.
Summary of what transpired at the Nongoma Workshop
· Approximately 25 participants had gathered for the workshop in the morning and a further 25 were being awaited. A total of four Members of Parliament were in attendance (Ms Vilakazi – IFP, Ms B Thompson – ANC, Prince Z Zulu – ANC, B Ntuli – ANC). Three MPLs were also in attendance (Ms Mohlaka – IFP, Ms P Nkonyeni – ANC, Dr Roopnarain – IFP). The MPLS present had been delegated by the Provincial Speaker. The Speaker and Mayor were also expected to attend for a short while. PPU had one staff member in attendance.
· The workshop had not yet started when approximately 30 men armed with traditional weapons entered and ordered that that the workshop disband as "local IFP leadership" had not been consulted. The men were led by a Mr Mtimande.
· Participants were chased, people were intimidated and strong language was used.
· Training materials were confiscated and the men threatened to burn materials.
· The attendance register was confiscated.
· The gates were closed and guarded and MPs, MPLs, the service provider and PPU staff member were prevented from leaving the premises.
· MPs, MPLs and the PPU staff member were threatened and accused of campaigning for the ANC.
· It appears that the men took serious objection to the fact that Prince Zeblon Zulu was in attendance as they allege that he is implicated in the murder of the previous Mayor.
· The men would not entertain discussion/ negotiations on the grounds that they "would not listen to women’.
· One of the Members managed to escape and alert the police who came to the rescue and escorted members and staff out of the area.
· The situation was very tense and the PPU staff member has indicated that she feared for her life. She is since considering formal counseling and appears to have suffered from delayed trauma.
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