The Chairperson tabled the Committee’s draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR). Members gave their input on various points, including some concerns that there was a focus on operational issues but not necessarily on ways that service centres could be resourced. Some possibly contradictory wording was pointed out, relating to the vacancy rate and the employment levels, and suggestions were made to improve it. The recommendations were also improved upon, from a stylistic and grammatical point of view, and it was pointed out that the Committee was requiring the Minister to ensure that the Department attended to marketing of the Public Employment System. The discrepancies between skills available and skills required should be bridged by the National Skills Fund, to train and employ people in the right places, or develop a skills needs analysis. Other recommendations were included to require municipalities to liaise with employee organisations and to mobilise these institutions. Recommendations from the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) and from Standing Committee on Public Accounts were also to be added in under the section setting out the Committee’s recommendations.
Members made comments about the Compensation Fund, noting that its cases were not receiving specialised or focused attention, and that this might be one of the reasons why there was a reduction of compensation in the Compensation Fund. The Minister would be asked, through the recommendations section, to furnish the reasons, and concerns would also be expressed about the possible fraudulent activity. The Committee also wanted to note concerns about irregularities in the processes around health checks and booking off work, which was particularly prevalent in the agricultural sector. Another recommendation pertained to liaison on skills training, and the Minister would be asked to give a report on the skills training, including a report on delays and false claims. In general, Members commented that the wording, for consistency, should reflect that “the Department must oversee…” not “should oversee”. Further recommendations related to the lack of transformation in the Compensation Fund and Sheltered Employment Factories. Members were also concerned about the shortage of satellite labour centres.
Members adopted the revised BRRR.
The Committee discussed the Fourth Quarter programme, noting that the schedule was tight but that it was important to conduct oversight, and particularly to accompany labour inspectors on their work, to observe what was done and the level of engagement with workers. Other officials from other departments would also form part of the delegation. If necessary, some visits, except those to
Committee’s Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report on Labour: 2010/20111
The Chairperson tabled the Committee’s draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR or the Report) and asked Members to check it and advise of any changes. She noted that some matters may have been mentioned in the first part of the Report but not captured in the recommendations section, and asked the Committee Secretary to check this issue.
Mr E Nyekemba (ANC) expressed concern that the initial document looked at operational issues and did not necessarily take cognisance of the ways in which service centres could be resourced.
Mr D Kganare (COPE) referred the Committee to page 6 of the BRRR. He read out the sentence referring to “the departmental vacancy rate has improved from 10.6% as at 31st December 2010 to 10% as per 31st March 2011”. This created the impression that this related to the vacancy rate for labour inspectors. The figures did not speak to each other.
Mr Kganare also noted that page 8 spoke of the decline in work opportunities due to the recession. However, there were certain inconsistencies in that first “unemployment” and later “employment” was mentioned. He thought this should be reworded.
Mr Kganare noted that page 13 outlined the recommendations. The second bullet point said that “the Department must liaise with other departments in order to market the Public Employment System to ensure... register vacancies and to recruit potential employees”. He thought it was the Minister who should ensure the Department engage other departments. He alluded to the fact that there was a discrepancy between the skills available and the required skills. The National Skills Fund (NSF) should look into that link and bridge the gap, so to train and employ people in the right places, or develop a skills needs analysis. He thought these should be included in the recommendations of the Committee.
The Chairperson added that further recommendations should be included, to the effect that municipalities should liaise with employee organisations and mobilise these institutions. Some of the comments by the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) should also be included in the Report.
Mr M Johnson (ANC) said that the issue of the Compensation Fund, mentioned on page 13, under recommendations, cut across several domains of labour. This resulted in problems, since many court cases never got the specialised attention they ought to have received, and this may be one of the reasons why there was a reduction of compensation. He thought that the Minister, through the Department of Labour (DOL) ought to provide reasons for claims, and reasons why there was a reduction in compensation. He briefly outlined some cases where farm workers had been injured at work, yet the district surgeon would declare that person fit to continue working. If the person did not attend work, due to the injury, he would be dismissed.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee had, during oversight, noted that this practice occurred all too frequently. One particular case had been seen where the district doctor, whilst saying that the worker was unfit to work, would nonetheless write on the form that the worker had a minor complaint, and this would be used later to dismiss the employee from being absent from work for so long. He pointed out that many of the farmers engaging in these practices were actually being funded by government.
Mr Nyekemba said that the Report should read that the Minister “must” ensure that the Department liaise with the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) on skills training. The study should tell the Committee what the situation was, and what the problems were with the delays, and why claims were not paid out. He added that the wording of bullet point 1 on page 13 should read that “the Department must oversee…” not “should oversee”.
Ms L Moss (ANC) was concerned that the Compensation Fund and the Sheltered Employment Factories were not transformed, and which had not transferred funds which were due to people. She also asked that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) must work closely with government officials to curb these tendencies. She pointed out that, especially in the rural areas, there were no satellite labour centres and this was a challenge for the Compensation Fund. She was also concerned about the level of corruption, with officials pocketing the money.
Mr A Williams (ANC) said that the word “should” ought to be replaced by “must” throughout the entire document.
Mr Williams also asked that the Auditor General’s recommendations be included as part of the Committee’s recommendations to the Minister.
Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) pointed to the item referring to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). She also suggested that recommendations from this body be listed together with the recommendations of the Committee in respect of the Department of Labour. She added that the main recommendations of other entities who had made presentations to the Committee could also be listed in this way.
The Chairperson then thanked the Members on their engagement and said that the amendments would be added in.
He noted also that the Committee would have to oversee the implementation of the recommendations as part of its oversight over the Ministry and Department.
Members adopted the BRRR, as amended.
Amended fourth term draft programme
Mr E Nyekemba sought clarity on the Departmental imbizos mentioned in the programme. He asked if the Committee had been invited to Mpumalanga, and asked why a Committee meeting had been scheduled for 6 December, because the Committee was supposed to be attending to oversight in that week. He also thought that adoption of outstanding minutes and reports should be rescheduled.
The Chairperson said that he was aware that the fourth quarter was busy but it was the duty of the Committee to go on oversight. It would gain better insight into what inspectors were doing. The Committee would be accompanying them on visits, and checking that the inspectors were actually talking to workers and addressing worker issues, rather than socialising with the farmers. Officials from the South African Police Service, South African Revenue Services, and Department of Home Affairs would also be joining the entourage. If any visits could not be carried out this year, they would be carried over to the next year, with the exception of the
Mr Johnson wanted to know if the Committee would be participating in the Conference of Parties (COP17).
The Chairperson said that the Committee was invited, but was waiting to see how many Members would be funded to attend the Conference.
Members adopted the programme.