The Director General complained that the Department of Labour had meagre resources and was under-funded. An additional R300 million was needed to fund the posts of professionals. Equity transformation was lagging behind, resulting in a weak government, instead of a decisive government, which was what was needed in the face of so many transgressors. This was how the shortfall in funding impacted on employment equity. More human resource professionals, rather than generalists, were required to engage with companies. There were too many generalists in the DOL and in order to come up to standard, the DOL would have to be properly capacitated. NEDLAC had to make do with a meagre R15 million. This should ideally be doubled. The CCMA had an even bigger shortfall. The number of complaints it received meant that more commissioners were needed but the DOL could not afford this. The Deputy Directors General presented the strategic plan for each of the four programmes (Administration, Inspection and Enforcement Services, Public Employment Services, Labour Policy and Labour Market Programmes).
Productivity South Africa’s new board gave the assurance that it comprised individuals who were from diverse backgrounds in terms of their competency in labour, government and the private sector. The CEO spoke about its four programmes, elaborating on their objectives, achievements and future targets. The Minister said that Productivity South Africa had done a lot to save workers’ jobs.
The Minister was also very clear that the DOL was critically short of professionals, and that government was unable to deliver adequately on its mandate to be decisive in the field of employment equity and workplace safety. A criticism about the composition of the delegation reflected on employment equity in that it was nearly all male. A question about competency and cadre development was raised by a Democratic Alliance MP, and this raised the ire of the Minister. He said that any position in which an ANC member had been placed was based on a person’s competency and such competency was not to be undermined, as it was also the case that other political parties such as the DA, that also deployed its members to positions because they had membership of such party. Party membership was a criteria, but more importantly, other criteria were applied. Professionals who had left the public service were competently employed elsewhere because of their skills, rather than for their allegiance to a political party. He encouraged all workers to join a trade union. The Minister said that the practice of brokering labour meant that people had become products – this was the practice of selling people. In a constitutional state like South Africa “even if you have no house, no food, nothing, you are protected by the Constitution”.
Productivity South Africa’s new board gave the assurance that it comprised individuals who were from diverse backgrounds in terms of their competency in labour, government and the private sector. The CEO spoke about its four programmes, elaborating on their objectives, achievements and future targets. The Minister said that Productivity South Africa had done a lot to save workers’ jobs.
With the Minister of Labour, Mr Memthembisi Mdladlana, present, the Department of Labour delegation was led by the Director General, Mr Jimmy Manyi. Mr Manyi said the vision of the DOL was to strive to create a labour market which was conducive to investment, economic growth, employment creation and decent work. This was the new vision of the DOL. The purpose was to regulate the employer/employee relationship, in order to maintain the balance of power - and in that relationship it tended to strengthen the weaker side. It also ensured compliance with all labour legislation and provided protection to the unemployed. The geographical spread throughout the country was across all provinces with the national office residing in Pretoria. The DOL had many offices including 139 Thusong Centres. There were the four programmes, with the fifth being the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Compensation Fund (CF) which would make its own separate presentation to the Committee. The four programmes comprised Administration, Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES), Public Employment Services (PES), and the Labour Policy and Labour Market Programmes (LP & LMP).
The CFO, Mr Bheki Maduna, continued with the presentation. He said that in the Administration programme he particularly wanted to point out the newly created position of Chief Operations Officer.
Adv Nkahleng Phasha, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, continued with the slides on Human Resources, Communication and the Legal Services programmes.
Ms Siyanda Zondeki, Deputy Director General: Service Delivery, DOL, continued with Inspection and Enforcement Services, discussing amongst others compliance with employment equity policies. Under this programme occupational health and safety posed a challenge. She specifically referred to exposure to silica in the mining industry as a health risk. Research and a review of the legislation were underway. There was an onus on the DOL to reduce incidence of disease and fatalities. One way of dealing with this was to conduct “blitz” inspections in vulnerable sectors.
Mr Sam Morotoba, Deputy Director General, DOL, spoke on the finalisation of the Public Employment Services Bill, and the interventions provided to distressed companies. Noteworthy was the figure of 24 000 jobs saved through social plan interventions and workplace programme assistance to 120 companies by 2011. Part of this programme also aimed to assist people with disabilities, and develop and train at least 50 learners with disabilities per factory for integration into the mainstream economy.
Mr Les Kettledas, Deputy Director General: Labour Policy and Labour Market, spoke on the promotion of sound labour relations, saying a lot of work had been done on compliance with employment equity, especially with JSE listed companies. There was work being done on the implementation of the amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) as it dealt with labour tenants. So too work was ongoing in providing protection for farm and domestic workers, private security and hospitality sectors, and the wholesale and retail sectors. Another important implementation was the amendments to the Labour Relations Act (LRA) to deal with labour brokers, contract, and sub-contract work. The quarterly labour report provided statistics and analysis on labour market information. DOL was also a member of SADC and African Union and participated and observed those international standards relating to labour policy and industrial relations.
Mr Manyi said that looking at the DOL budget, it had meagre resources. It was under-funded and this must be seen against the background that an additional R300 million would be needed to fund the posts of professionals such as chartered accountants and statisticians. Numerate professionals would need to be increased, as would labour professionals. Transformation was lagging behind, resulting in a weak government, instead of a decisive government, which was what was needed in the face of so many transgressors. In order to professionalise that, inspectors for example, were needed in the construction sector. So was the need for civil engineers to inspect buildings and medical doctors to ensure compliance with equipment and safety. Professionals in veterinary science were also needed. This was how the shortfall in funding impacted on employment equity. More human resource professionals, rather than generalists, were required to engage with companies on that. There were too many generalists in the DOL and in order to come up to standard, the DOL would have to be properly capacitated. NEDLAC was increasing its importance for social dialogue but had to make do with a meagre R15 million. This should ideally be doubled. The CCMA had an even bigger shortfall. The number of complaints it received meant that more commissioners would be needed but this the DOL could not afford.
On slide 35 he showed 2010/11 budget figures for compensation of employees (the biggest slice of the budget), goods and services (for example office accommodation), transfers and subsidies and payment for capital assets, totalling R1.7 billion in the current year, and R2.1 billion in the 2014/15 year. He showed the allocations to NEDLAC, CCMA, and sheltered employment (which amounted to R62 million). The allocation to Productivity South Africa was R31 million. The allocations to the four programmes had the largest slice going to administration (36%), followed by labour policy (28%), inspection and enforcement services (20%) and lastly public employment services (16%). In terms of the spread of the money, the bulk of the allocations was being spent on the programmes.
The new board of Productivity SA, headed by its chairperson, Mr Alwyn Nel, introduced themselves. The Acting CEO, Mr Bongani Coka, said that the PSA had celebrated its 40th year, having originally been named the Productivity Advisory Council. Its name changed in 2007 from the National Productivity Institute to its present name. Since its establishment it had effected many successes in its field of work. It derived its mandate through the DOL and the Constitution, and operated under Schedule 4 of the Skills Development Amendment Act. Its vision was to develop a productive and competitive South Africa. It had four programmes – value chain competitiveness, turnaround solutions, positioning and brand management, and organisational productivity solutions. It had eight focus areas, including monitoring and evaluation. PSA’s approach was customer focussed and people-centred. In its structure it was accountable to the DOL, with the Board being appointed by the Minister and responsible for its operations. Its base was in Midrand, and there were two regional offices – in Kwazulu Natal and in Cape Town.
Mr Coka said that its philosophy was that it did not embark on any programme unless there was a clear collaboration between management and labour. This kind of democratisation in the workplace ensured high morale. Furthermore this approach also had success in Future Forums such as the intervention made in a section of the Post Office. Because of the success of that intervention, Future Forums had subsequently been implemented in other sections of the Post Office.
Mr Coka spoke about the four programmes, elaborating on their objectives, highlights and achievements, and future targets.
The first programme, Positioning and Brand Management, had three objectives: to acquire greater productivity achievements, to build a legacy, and to build appropriate relationships with stakeholders. It ensured alignment with government objectives by noting the budget speech, and state of the nation address. PSA had requested the Minister to be its patron for the productivity movement. This programme had been running a productivity award for the past 17 years and had been fortunate to select speakers of high profile which helped to bring attention to, and the buying into, of the productivity movement. Its achievements included successful national awareness campaigns via the media so that the South African economy knew of PSA. Productivity related knowledge and support to recipients of its service could be done by means of the internet. Annual reports were also published.
The Turn Around Solutions programme, also known as the social plan, was distinguishable from the other programmes because it had two elements - managing retrenchments and job creation. At the 1998 Job Summit a concern about job losses led to a NEDLAC intervention to prevent unemployment. PSA was also involved in job loss interventions which covered the agricultural, metal, and forestry sectors where the biggest impact was made. It had verified that 586 jobs have been created. Its target in the coming year was to have Future Forums, work plans, and impact assessments in 140 companies. An aspect of those interventions was the ability to implement an early warning system which for companies to be alert and act, and not wait until the situation was out of hand. It also intended working in sheltered employment companies and in this respect it was interacting with its Japanese counterparts.
The Value Chain Competitiveness programme had four aspects: Workplace Challenge was referred to by DOL in their presentation. The programme secondly embarks on productivity related research, the third aspect was knowledge management, and the fourth was information technology. All of these assisted companies to be world class in terms of productivity.
The next programme was Organisational Productivity Solutions. Here training for companies, as well as managers and entrepreneurs, was provided. This was for both state-owned and private enterprises. The programme was aiming to provide training for a minimum of 650 educators, 3000 SMMEs, 620 managers, and was working with the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) to capacitate skills development facilitators. It was also aiming to build a pool of productivity experts in at least one government department.
Besides programmes, there were four other areas of work for PSA. The first was its international partnerships, one of those being with Japan, for the purpose of skills transfer. In an observational exercise, consultants were able to go to Singapore and Japan to learn best practice, and bring back that knowledge. PSA gained AU status and participated in a productivity improvement programme for Africa. It was also annually involved and active in SADC.
Its monitoring and assessment built efficiency of programmes. On an annual basis it asked for responses from its customers, and used the same exercise at the end of an intervention and could in this way assess whether the intervention was relevant and added value.
PSA believes that the talent of employees was key in its success. Focal areas here were talent sourcing and recruitment. It had a staff complement of 86 with very few vacancies, due to its good recruitment drive and an improved staff retention programme. Succession planning was in place. A number of employees had had the opportunity to develop and thereby have been promoted. It had assessed and engaged with performance culture by use of a respondent survey. The majority of employees responded that they perceived the organisation to be performance driven. It had also updated its performance management system.
Lastly its finance and administration was based on sound corporate governance. PSA was funded through four sources of income – through its grant from government, income generated from turn around solutions and work place challenge, and a small amount from other sources. Of its total, 50% was derived from social plan funding. Its growth in funding was a direct result of growth in demand for its services and programmes.
Mr A Louw (DA) asked in connection with companies in distress, what sort of training was given and what was the level of competency of those receiving the training. He wanted to know which sectors were targeted, and also observed that it seemed this activity was being done for the sake of statistics rather than a genuine need. Secondly he said that given that South Africa had good universities and technikons, there still existed a shortage of specialists such as civil engineers and doctors. These professionals had left South Africa because of “cadre deployment”. This posed a second problem in that “newcomers” that is, inexperienced graduates struggled to enter their field of work. He wanted to know what was being done to assist these graduates to “make their mark”.
Mr E Nyemkembe (ANC) put his question to the DOL, about inspectors – he wanted to get a sense of what was being done to realise inspection and enforcement. He said on a previous occasion the DOL had made an analogy between this work and the work of traffic officials, and he was not happy with that. Public employment services required different legislation. He requeted more detail on the labour policy. With regard to the code of conduct he noted only one area – HIV - had received attention. It was not clear whether there were other areas of challenge.
Ms F Khumalo (ANC) asked PSA, how they would, with only two regional offices, respond to government priorities, in networking other provinces. She asked in which cluster the 586 jobs had been created. She asked how, considering the current crisis concerning labour tenants, DOL would bring about enforcement.
Mr I Ollis (DA) asked the DOL about their change in vision in relation to investment and economic growth. He wanted to know whether it had come about this year or when that had happened. In Slide 25 a statement was made about sheltered employment factories. It stated that 70% of goods would be accounted for and he wondered why that target should not be 100%. On the matter of employment equity (slide 28) he asked what was the timeframe for achieving those goals. He also wondered why so many more issues had been added to the labour broking matter (slide 31) and whether this would cloud the core issue. He said the presentation called for an additional R300 million in its budget but he was not sure whether he had heard R1 billion was needed elsewhere in the presentation. He asked for clarity on that. To PSA he posed the question on the position of Acting CEO, asking how long that position would be so. On the issue of the new board he wanted to know whether the composition of the board with its set of skills would adequately fit the mandate it had to deliver.
Ms A Rantsolase (ANC) said she had listened intently to the DOL on its goals concerning employment equity. However, she pointed out, the delegation here today, all male except for one female, did not reflect its own goals. She asked in view of the shortage of funds, how programme priorities were set. It appeared that given the budget shortage, not every goal could be achieved. On the matter of specialists, experts and professionals, she stated that in the field of finance, for example, chartered accountants were not the only experts. Other financial experts could be employed to accomplish the same tasks. She asked in its strategic plan, whether the DOL could specify how many financially competent staff were in its employ. She asked, referring to one of its purposes, how it would regulate the labour market. She referred to its purpose to enforce labour relations legislation, and asked how this would be possible since currently there was no legislation for labour brokers. How would this be followed up?
Ms Rantsolase asked about the definition of “unskilled” and how the matter of recognition for prior learning was factored into this definition. If someone had worked initially as an unskilled worker, but 20 years later was continuing to do well in the same job, how could such a person still be defined as unskilled? Some protection should be afforded to people with prior learning. On the matter of inspectors, more quality rather than quantity was needed. Too little attention had been given to this in the report. Companies, not complying with employment equity, needed to be addressed but it was not clear from the strategic plan how this would be achieved. Further, the training of women so that they could advance to positions of management had been completely ignored.
Ms Rantsolase asked what were the occupational health and safety amendments. There should be protection of the labour school, which needed to be extended to other provinces. Its output should be measured against its income so that it would be a feasible exercise. She asked the PSA about its responsibility towards “people on the ground” and how they were effecting change there. She asked if the job creation was sustainable? The presentation only gave a synopsis and she wanted more detail as well as how it prevented unemployment, that is, “loss of jobs”. Was this being done according to a framework and would it be visible on the “shop floor”.
Mr Nyemkembe asked about training of management and workers. The training of workers fell under the Skills Development Act, and asked how this was being effected within the DOL mandate.
The Chairperson addressed the DOL and said that government’s priorities were clear. What the Committee needed to hear was what the department was doing to respond to those priorities, and what amount of funding would assist DOL to achieve its goals. It was apparent how each DOL entity identified its budget shortcomings. She wanted to hear the overall achievements envisaged in the strategic plan as well as specifics such as those of the inspectorate. For example, why was it necessary to buy that number of cars, what was the target and what was the actual expenditure. This was a necessary exercise because of the constraints of the budget. The strategic plan should have clear short and long-term goals.
Mr Manyi replied that the employment service bill functions within impacts which could be measured. Employment was not only in the formal sector but also in self employment and cooperative employment. Those who may have been retrenched were instead channelled into a skills upliftment programme. This lightened the load on the UIF. With regard to the 70% target for goods in sheltered employment, it was a very serious matter to ensure every item was priced correctly, taking account of the cost of the manufacture of those items. However, a method was now in place to cost items that were incomplete since these had value as well. Previously this had not been costed and therefore yielded a percentage of 70%.
Mr Maduna, DOL CFO, said DOL had placed an emphasis on entities and in particular the contribution sheltered employment made. In its projection plan, it would create employment for 500. It was dependent on government departments to provide at least 30% of orders to sheltered employment. Its training at a centre of excellence would be accessible to companies. Its capacity would be 500 trainees.
Ms Zondeki responded on the question about professionalising the inspectorate. She said the DOL had identified the categories of inspectors, and job profiles and job evaluations had been done for all categories. The next step was to implement this and that would be based on the funding available. Although not in all provinces, in some provinces inspectors had been appointed for UIF. The Director General’s review was currently being conducted at head office, with the aim of bringing inspection and enforcement under one umbrella. She agreed that uniforms and vehicles alone is not the objective, but it did have the effect of heightened awareness. These inspectors would ensure compliance with all labour laws.
About labour tenants on farms, she said that a sectoral determination was in place and now needed to be enforced. This would mean adherence to, amongst others, minimum wages, accommodation and allowable deductions. In terms of regulation in the construction industry, it entailed enforcement around general safety. Regulations on these were being reviewed, and they were working closely with the Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety.
Mr Kettledas replied to Mr Nyekembe’s question on HIV and the code of good practice. There was an international standard which DOL observed. There might be issues arising out of that observation in terms of DOL’s alignment to that standard, and it would strengthen its own code of practice. On Schedule 8 dismissals, this was not on the table at the moment but the question was useful to help understand members’ concerns. With regard to amendments to the Employment Equity Act, the DOL would be bringing that Bill to Parliament. About the LRA amendments, labour broking and sub contracting fell under that process. His response to Ms Rantsolase’s question was DOL would investigate unskilled labour as reported in the strategic plan. Even though a sectoral determination was in place, the aim was to afford protection for these workers who fall outside of the definitions in legislation at present. There would be a process of public hearings, and the rest of the process would include the Employment Conditions Commission advising the Minister on protection for these workers. With regard to employment equity, what the DG review sought to enforce was substantive compliance. So the review was more involved, and an analysis of the statistics that they arrived at would be compared with the statistics provided by companies. The DOL would in this way be monitoring the information provided by those companies and offset it against their own plans. It might then transpire that those plans were defective, in which case DOL would give feedback on consultation with workers, skills development, submitting reports timeously, and the allocation of an employment equity manager. DOL was committed to ensuring an understanding of their recommendations and the timeframes. On the labour school, under the Ditsela Fund, the training was widely utilised across the country, and even though the school was situated in Kwazulu Natal, there was no problem with access to its facilities. For example, SAMWU was situated in Cape Town but it was making full use of the facilities.
Mr Maduna, in his response to a comment about the budget for compensation of employees (slide 35), said the DOL would ensure that all projects would be achieved with the money available.
The Director General said he wanted to make it very clear that looking at the amount available, despite that, there was no shortage of capable people and in fact there was a thick file of applications of talented people wanting to join the DOL. He needed to put his earlier comments in context - that there was no problem except for the system being slow in vetting and other such processes. It was very encouraging to see competent people, such as chartered accountants, attracted by and very willing to join the DOL. He said Ms Zondeki had already replied on the matter of enforcement and inspection, but he wanted to add that with the car delivery issue, those cars for inspectors would be delivered by end of March. With regard to the “traffic cop” approach, there needed to be an understanding of the challenge. The law currently was cumbersome, in that permission for corrective action needed to be obtained. The aim was to remove that permission requirement so that companies breaking the law would understand that action would be taken. In terms of processing it, he assured members that it was not because he did not have detail. It was because there might be a breach of process if the matter were to be aired today in front of the media, before its tabling in Parliament.
With regard to the change of vision, the Director General said it would change as of 1 April due to the DOL’s new strategic plan and in line with the Estimates of National Expenditure. On the budget issue, whether it was short by R300 million or R1 billion, the DOL was “totally underfunded”, in view of its responsibility. Looking at a break down for inspection and enforcement, for example, certain technological “gadgets” were needed to check carbon emissions and a range of other technical matters. Chemical engineers likewise would need technical equipment. In this case, to capacitate that programme alone, the need was R100 million. On the matter of the advertising of vacancies, work was being done to ensure that the whole public service used one system. The DOL was proud of its very efficient advertising, and now wanted to build on that.
He continued that there were three major priorities. Firstly, it was to have a visible inspectorate. A large part of its work would be to cooperate closely with unions to gather intelligence on abuses in the workplace. Secondly, to provide unemployed people such as car guards with a portal which facilitated their entry into UIF and other such statutory structures. This priority addressed the Skills Development Act. Thirdly, to work briskly on the amendments to the LRA and other labour laws especially those which would legislate on the labour brokers, and this would bring DOL closer to the broader government aim to provide decent work. On the recognition of prior learning, DOL believed that people who do not have the qualification but who had the capability to deliver the tasks was a matter to be taken very seriously. DOL would ensure that such employees were not penalised. With regard to the legality of the inspectorate, he said that being a constitutional state, the law must simply be tightened, rather than leaving matters to market forces. Here again he did not want to publicly announce the detail to avoid possible breach of process, but members would know the details once the matter came before Parliament. Finally, on gender representivity in the DOL, the position of Chief Operating Officer and another post in Corporate Services would be filled by women.
The Chairperson said there appeared to be a lot of work underway and he was pleased to see in the answers how the various questions were linked. On the matter of protection of workers the law must be tight enough to enforce the necessary action, and moreover, must empower the inspectorate to do their work efficiently. She asked the PSA delegation to proceed with their replies.
PSA’s Mr Nel said that members of the delegation would reply to the questions in sequence, according to their particular competency. Mr Coka replied to the question about whether training was done for the purpose of training or for training of the unemployed, saying it was linked to programmes. It would be impractical to train people who were unemployed. The training was done in line with a programme and was relevant to their work environment. Workers were trained so that they understood the key drivers in their organisations. This was so that when they engage with management, they could engage from a position of power. With the training of management it needed to be according to a measurement of quality. On the question of PSA representation in other regions besides the Western Cape and Kwazulu Natal, PSA believed that it would make a bigger impact by relying on partnerships. A more compelling case could be made for more funding for programmes rather than the building more offices. There was already a good regional representation so all provinces were covered. For example in Limpopo and Mpumalanga there was a lot of activity during productivity month. PSA had the ability to change South Africa for the benefit of workers, a major benefit being through social plan interventions.
Mr Iggy Sathekge said that the Workplace Challenge programme was intended to benefit workers which, by increasing productivity, ensuring profits were generated and were equitably shared by means of a bonus or an increase in wages. The second way workers benefited, and this formed part of PSA’s conditions when an intervention was embarked upon, was to ensure that the companies not only grew and generated more income, but that they invested the income. This must be tangible and measurable. Interventions stabilised the company, and the retention in terms of employment must be realised. Lastly empowerment of employees must be achieved by means of having a meaningful input in the running of the company, improving innovation, and general performance of the company. Ordinary workers got empowered in the actual planning and improvement through reconfiguration. The work place forum then became an important tool, and further empowered workers to, for example, chair meetings. These were the elements which ensured workers did benefit from PSA’s intervention programmes.
Ms Mudzunga Mashamba said that the UIF queues were growing because of companies in distress. But PSA was in a position to rescue the situation before retrenchments. It was hoped that the programme would increase significantly. The other aspect of PSA’s operation was that there was no other vehicle in government to address productivity issues. The programme was the only government programme which helped companies with job losses. PSA capacitated and made its interventions well before the situation was as serious as to suffer job losses.
Mr Coka said that “buy in”, that is, credibility with the labour sector was good and made it conducive for PSA to perform its interventions.
Mr Neville Goba provided clarity about the type of training offered, saying it was not technical training such as plumbing. Rather the training was aimed at improving productivity for people already skilled but their target was for Skills Development Facilitators (SDF) to assist with performance in the organisation. Measuring the productivity performance of the organisation was also a means to improve the functioning of the organisation, and in this way productivity could spread through the country. SDFs were critical for spreading confidence in productivity. Furthermore, the competitiveness of these organisations depended on people who had the creative minds to improve efficiency.
Mr Coka commented on PSA’s equity status, saying there was still room for improvement. The current statistics showed an improvement as the staff was 53% female and 68% were previously disadvantaged.
Mr Nel, PSA Board chairperson, said that the new board had been inducted a week before and a sub committee had been put in place to write up its terms of reference. PSA’s shareholder was the government, that is, the Minister of Labour. Part of its commitment was recognition of that fact and consistent meetings of the board would be a priority. In terms of the variety of skills of board members, there was a good mix of business, labour and government. But above all the board comprised a set of individuals who were equally sharp-minded and up to the task to take PSA forward and up to the next level.
Ms Rantsolase said she did not agree that chartered accountants were the only experts who could do the job. Accountants could also do the job. She asked that this be revised. She was happy with Mr Kettledas’ reply about the increase because productivity was in a serious crisis. Small and micro enterprises had been eroded by the activities of multi nationals – she threw out the question to both delegations and asked how they were helping in that regard, especially in the metal and forestry sector. Where did the training take place, that is, which sector.
Ms Khumalo said it was also important for the strengthening of supervision of labour brokers where currently there was no inspection. Supervision would ensure that there was accountability.
Mr Nyemkembe said the DG tried to assist in answering about the failure of deployment. This was a political question so it was not directed at him. He wanted clarity on the details of Bills – public and private employment services (Slide 21). He asked whether this meant that public employment service together with private placement services would be licensed by DOL, and would they be charged for that.
The Chairperson invited the Minister to have a few words.
The Minister, Mr Mdladlana, made his first input at the meeting, and started off by confirming that the employment placement services would be both public and private. The Constitution protected the right to have private services. Many employers however were being fleeced for this service. It meant employers were being exploited, but by the same token so were the workers. This law was fairly urgent.
On the issue of inspectors, there was no way that there could be an inspector in each and every workplace. He wanted to encourage workers to belong to trade unions or to belong to an organisation. He was addressing Mr Louw in this regard, saying that workers need not “be alone” and that it was imperative to belong to a trade union. Even high ranking workers such as CEOs, such as those present, they too must, and do, belong to trade unions. Ms Khumalo was right, the work of the inspectors needed to be monitored. However he referred to people being picked up in a bakkie – “the bakkie brigade”. These people were being taken somewhere and it was not known where. He raised his hands saying “what do we expect an inspector to do” in that case. Under South African law there was no definition for labour broker. Hence in South Africa the practice of brokering labour had become such that labour was a commodity, where people were products – this was the practice of selling people. In a constitutional state like South Africa, he emphasised, “even if you have no house, no food, nothing, you were protected by the same Constitution” like everyone else. He said whether you were Memthembisi Mdladlana or Nicky Oppenheimer you had the same rights.
He said that PSA had done a lot to save workers - for example on a farm he had visited in the Western Cape he witnessed how those jobs were saved. They operate by means of an employer representative and the farmer had the difficult task to address those workers. But ultimately it was a success and those workers and farmer were happy to have been helped. He said that on certain aspects “we must agree to disagree”. He was well versed with the work PSA was doing, especially the social plan. This was an agreement to which he had been party between labour, government and employers (Section 129). This agreement was made at NEDLAC. He said to Ms Rantsolase that the issue was that government did not have the financial resources to retain chartered accountants. The reason they left public service was remuneration. It also had to be borne in mind that DOL was an excellent training ground so they were in high in demand thereafter.
He directed his comments to Mr Louw, saying that it was not about cadre deployment. He was happy to speak to a cadre deployee of the DA such as Mr Louw. Likewise Ms Helen Zille had been deployed as the Premier of the Western Cape. It was interesting to observe that Mr Dan Plato, another DA deployee, was ranked third in his party and he was waiting for the outcome of proceedings to see who would be the leader of the DA in the Western Cape. Similarly, he himself was a cadre of the ANC deployed to Parliament. Therefore Mr Louw “should not undermine” such a process, nor must he be perceived as “fong kong”, that is, less capable. Because, he was a teacher by profession, and he had “produced many of you” especially if those present today had been in school during 1972. He used this to illustrate his point that this was not about cadre development, rather it was about a shortage of experts and professionals for the reasons already outlined. Cadre deployment was a normal process.
In the case of inspectors, the DOL did have some, but not enough. The same issue was at play here – they left for better pay. It would be inappropriate to send a level 1 inspector to look into the books of the UIF for example because it did not fit his or her level of competency. There were vacant posts and Mr Louw was welcome to apply. And like other applicants he would be “grilled” to check whether he was properly qualified for the position. Employment equity did not refer to cadre development, indeed there was a whole range of criteria.
On the matter of sectoral determination he said there was a lengthy, thorough process it would undergo before reaching him for his signature. However, the Constitution compelled him to give reasons for making any change he might want to, but he was implying that the thorough process made it water-tight and so eliminated the need to make changes. He therefore expressed full confidence in the processes within trade unions that enabled it. Trade unions and shop stewards underwent training – made possible by the Ditsela Fund – and this must be commended and encouraged to strengthen and continue. He was committed to the unionisation of workers, moreover, it was not a promise, it was a commitment. He would not be provoked by the media on this matter and would stand firmly by what he had said – that under the South African law there was no definition of labour broker.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for his input. She said that it was clear that there were certain issues that could be repeatedly discussed and explained and not see it appear in public media. But, she said ultimately no-one owns the media. She thanked the delegations for a good engagement, and said there would be a further engagement the following week, and that there might be more of the same questions. But that was the nature of the Committee in that it liked to check whether the same answers would be given to the same questions.
The meeting adjourned.
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