Members discussed their report on the Department of Labour’s budget vote. Members expressed concern about the Department’s lack of capacity to enforce its laws and carry out inspections. A request was made for the Department to increase the number of unannounced inspections. Members also proposed that amendments be made to the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as the Unemployment Insurance Act.
The Committee discussed the letter that had been sent by the Director-General of the Department of Labour requesting additional funds to implement the Department’s priorities. Some of the Members were not happy with the letter as it contradicted with the Director-General’s presentation he had made previously before the Committee. They also felt that the Director-General had failed to elaborate how the additional funds would be utilised. The Committee agreed to recommend that extra funding be allocated for inspection.
Committee Report on the budget vote of the Department of Labour (DoL)
The Chairperson opened the meeting and gave Members an opportunity to correct and critically discuss the draft Report.
Ms F Khumalo (ANC) proposed that the Committee go through the report page by page.
Mr I Ollis (DA) suggested that the report should reflect the Committee’s concern regarding the Department’s lack of capacity to enforce its laws and carry out inspections. In addition, he pointed out that there were not enough inspectors and vehicles in the rural areas.
Ms E Thabethe (ANC) agreed with this observation and added that the Department needed to increase the number of unannounced inspections (it carried out) to make sure that people were doing their jobs.
Mr E Nyekembe (ANC) believed that the Occupational Health and Safety Act had to be amended immediately so that the inspectors did not have to ask permission before carrying out their inspections.
Mr Ollis expressed concern about the IT challenges that the Department was facing and proposed that this (sentiment) be recorded in the report. Also, he noted that the report spoke about the centralisation of funds instead of the centralisation of services.
On the subject of the centralisation of services, Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) recalled that the Labour Commissioner had promised that the remaining four provinces would be operating soon.
Mr Ollis wanted clarity about the rumours that the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) would be transferred to Department of Economic Development. Will that entity’s budget be overseen by the Department of Economic Development?
The Chairperson replied that NEDLAC was still under the Department of Labour. There was some discussion around this issue but nothing had been finalised.
Mr Nyekembe recalled that Mr Herbert Mkhize (Executive Director: NEDLAC) had previously indicated to the Committee that the entity’s key coordinators were the Minister of Labour and his Director General. In addition, he proposed that the Unemployment Insurance Act be amended to cater for employees who had to resign because of unbearable work conditions caused by their employers (constructive dismissal). It was not fair that these people would have to wait for the arbitration award before they could claim from the Fund.
The Chairperson emphasised that the Committee would incorporate all these suggestions in its recommendations to National Treasury.
Letter requesting R1 billion to effectively implement Departmental priorities
Mr Jimmy Manyi, Director-General, DoL, had written to the Committee requesting additional funding for the Department to implement is priorities. The Department had not been happy with its allocation as it contradicted the total additional funding it had requested to carry out its work. The Chairperson invited Members to comment on the letter.
Mr Ollis was not pleased with Mr Manyi’s letter as it did not elaborate how the additional funds would be utilised. He believed that the Director-General was overstating things but nevertheless recommended that additional funding be allocated for inspection.
Mr Nyekembe agreed with Mr Ollis and remarked that the letter had a lot of discrepancies as it contradicted the total funding required by the Department.
Ms Makhubela-Mashele was also not pleased with Mr Manyi’s letter. She expressed confusion, noting that in the letter, the DG mentioned that the Department was stressed by its inability to stretch all over the country yet when he appeared before the Committee he had stated that the Department was able to cover every area of the country with Thusong
Ms F Bikani (ANC) suggested that the Committee should call Mr Manyi to present a detailed budget report.
The Chairperson replied that it would not be possible to do this as the Committee had run out of time. The Committee had to send its recommendations with the budget vote immediately when it returned from the recess.
The letter was recommended for consideration. The Committee agreed to recommend that extra funding be allocated for inspection.
The meeting was adjourned.
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