Ex-mineworkers Interdepartmental Task Team: progress report; Committee Report on Labour Department Strategic Plan; Committee programme

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Labour

23 April 2012
Chairperson: Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson said the meeting had been called in order to bring to a close the case of the ex-mineworkers in the former Transkei region of the Eastern Cape who had not been paid the compensation to which they were entitled. It was a project which would under normal circumstances have been completed within five years, but it had dragged on for approximately eight years. The money had to be distributed to beneficiaries and the Portfolio Committee had to decide what would happen with money which could not be paid out. It could stay with the UIF or it could be given to the Department of Health.

However, Mr Boas Seruwe, Commissioner, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) in the Department of Labour (DoL) and chairperson of the Inter-Departmental Task Team (IDTT), who provided feedback on progress in the assessment of claims submitted by ex-mineworkers and reported on payments which had been made, as well as outstanding payments, surprised the Committee when he revealed that 2 109 additional claimants from East London, the Free State and Western Cape, had been added to the list.

The Chairperson said that when the process had started, the focus had been on the Eastern Cape. It was the first time the Portfolio Committee had heard that the IDTT had been expanded. The fact that there were ex-mineworkers from other provinces present changed the complexion of the meeting and the Portfolio Committee should have been informed. The process had to start from scratch, at a time when the Committee wanted to finalise it. There would be questions asked about what had happened since 1994 to date. The meeting would not be productive as there would be time constraints. He welcomed the new members of the IDTT but asked that the discussion be restricted to the programme in the Eastern Cape. The discussion had to focus on which steps needed to be taken to put the matter to rest.

While Members were raising issues regarding the legitimacy of some of the claims, measures to verify claims and how to ensure payment to those who qualified, the delegation from the Eastern Cape – the party directly concerned – had not arrived and the coordinators did not know where they were. They eventually arrived an hour and a half late, explaining that their promised transport had not materialised and they had had to walk to Parliament.

Asked how the ex-mineworkers from the Free State and Western Cape had come to be included in the IDTT, Mr Seruwe said the Committee was aware that the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources had indicated that there were many ex-mineworkers across the country who had not received their benefits. The Committee had also advised the IDTT to go out and do advocacy. The previous Minister of Labour had gone to the Eastern Cape and called on ex-mineworkers to come forward with information. The new Minister of Labour had also received a request from the Free State from people who were ex-mineworkers who believed that they were owed money. The IDTT was advised that since it existed already, and it was working in the field of benefits to ex-mineworkers, it had to incorporate the ex-mineworkers from the Free State into its program. In the Western Cape there had been marches to Parliament because of this issue. They had also requested to be included in the process. There was a decision not to work in a piecemeal manner. The Minister of Labour had been inundated with requests from other provinces to deal with the matter in a comprehensive manner. The IDTT had therefore been advised to include the Western Cape as well, in order to deal with the issue comprehensively.

After questioning from the Committee revealed that not all parties involved in representing ex-mineworkers’ interests had been involved in a meeting held on 13 April to prepare the presentation for the meeting, the Chairperson said that the way forward had to be to deal with the Eastern Cape and to put the rest on hold. He suggested that the IDTT met for two to three hours after the current meeting to discuss the way forward. The Committee needed to be informed of developments. It was the Committee’s intention to see their issues resolved. The ex-mineworkers could only help them to resolve its issues if ex-mineworkers and government officials in the IDTT worked together as a team.
During debate on the Department of Labour (DoL) budget vote, members raised concerns over its capacity to provide inspection and enforcement services. It was pointed out that the Committee had approved R315m to enhance the capacity of the inspectorate and implement an enforcement programme but it was not known how the R315m had been used. In some provinces, cars had been bought, but some inspectors could not do inspections because cars were shared at labour centres. Inspectors travelled in groups and had to give each other lifts, drop each other off and pick each other up. The Chairperson said that inspectors did not have laptops. They needed the tools of work to be effective. They had to share and use what was there. It was unprofessional.
It was apparent that more money was needed to appoint more inspectors and to do more up-skilling. The report was adopted, with amendments.

The Committee discussed the revised draft programme for the rest of the second term.

Meeting report

Inter-Departmental Task Team Presentation
The Chairperson opened the meeting by welcoming all present. He said the meeting had been called in order to bring to a close the case of the ex-mineworkers in the former Transkei region of the Eastern Cape who had not been paid the compensation to which they were entitled. It was a project which would under normal circumstances have been completed within five years, but it had dragged on for approximately eight years. The money had to be distributed to beneficiaries and the Portfolio Committee had to decide what would happen with money which could not be paid out. It could stay with the UIF or it could be given to the Department of Health.

Mr Boas Seruwe, Commissioner, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) in the Department of Labour (DoL) and chairperson of the Inter-Departmental Task Team (IDTT), delivered the presentation. The IDTT was tasked with executing the project of finding the ex-mineworkers or their descendants - in cases where they were deceased - and paying them what was due to them.

He said that the purpose of the meeting was to give feedback on progress on the assessment of claims submitted by ex-mineworkers, and to report on payments that had been made as well as outstanding payments.

Between September 2011 and April 2012 a list of names totalling 2 109 had been added by ex-mineworkers, including 309 from East London in the Eastern Cape, 769 from the Free State and  1 004 from the Western Cape. Of these 1 691 had been analysed, with 418 still to be analysed.

Of the 1 691 which had been analysed, 1 354 had been sent to TEBA Ltd, a recruitment company which specialised in mining recruitment and had been in existence for 106 years. On 327 of these, the IDTT had received an employment history, but no remuneration information. This information had been sent to the Labour Centres so that the remuneration could be estimated in order to process the claims further. The amount due to an ex-mineworker depended on what he was earning when he stopped working. The IDTT was still waiting for this information.

TEBA Ltd could not validate 1 027 of the names sent to it, so they had been sent back to the labour centres for the ex-mine leaders to provide records which could be used to process claims in the form of payslips or affidavits from the police.

Of the 1 691 names checked, 174 had no valid ID numbers, while 163 ex-mineworkers had complete information which had been submitted to the UIF. This was in the process of being checked, after which these workers would be paid. Thus far, almost R5m had been paid to 1 206 beneficiaries.

Vouchers on hold (rejected payments) amounted to R650 822. This would be paid out to 168 beneficiaries as soon as their correct banking details could be obtained and verified.

The challenges faced by the IDTT during the process was that in some towns the ex-miners’ leaders were not present and available to assist the IDTT, or the majority of the beneficiaries did not show up at meetings, or banks delayed opening new bank accounts for the beneficiaries.

At a meeting on 13 April 2012, the IDTT agreed that the assistance of traditional chiefs and councillors would be sought to ensure that the remaining 168 beneficiaries were reached and paid their benefits.

The Chamber of Mines (CoM) had agreed to receive additional names of beneficiaries from the ex-mineworkers leaders. A list of 4 100 IDs and names had been submitted to the CoM in order to establish whether there were any pension -or provident fund payments due to the ex-mineworkers. The CoM had indicated that it would work with TEBA to verify the validity of these claims.

As ex-mineworkers submitted names of claimants to the DoL, they were forwarded to Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) for validations.

Advocate Maile Ngake, from the Department of Health (DoH), said the total number of claimants was 18 000, of which 12 000 had been paid. A challenge encountered by the Compensation Commission for Occupational Diseases (CCOD) was the difficulty in locating the claimants.

At the meeting held on the 13 April, the CCOD had resolved to join the DoL when meeting with the chiefs and councillors to locate ex-miner beneficiaries. Claimants who believed that they had valid claims could approach the CCOD individually. Leaders of the ex-miners were encouraged to bring the applications of those ex-miners who could be located, to the CCOD.

Discussion
The Chairperson said when the process had started, the focus had been on the Eastern Cape. It was the first time the Portfolio Committee had heard that the IDTT had been expanded. The fact that there were ex-mineworkers from other provinces present changed the complexion of the meeting. There was nothing wrong with the developments, but the Portfolio Committee should have been informed. The process had to start from scratch, at a time when the Portfolio Committee wanted to finalise it. There would be questions about what had happened since 1994 to date. The meeting would not be productive as there would be time constraints. He welcomed the new members of the IDTT and asked that the discussion be restricted to the programme in the Eastern Cape. The discussion had to focus on which steps needed to be taken to put the matter to rest. He opened the floor to suggestions from members.

Mr H Schmidt (DA) said that there was something called the “prescription” of a claim, which was normally three years. He felt that a deadline had to be instituted regarding the placement of claims, otherwise new claimants would materialise perpetually. There had to be an attempt to pay all legitimate claimants. The IDTT had to serve summonses through the sheriff of the court to the last known addresses of beneficiaries, to prove that it had made every effort to trace beneficiaries.

Mr Schmidt referred to the 174 claimants without ID numbers. He asked whether they did not have ID numbers, or whether the claimants did not exist at all.

The Chairperson asked what had happened to the former members of the IDTT. Had any members resigned? He realised some were late. There had to be an explanation. He asked where the delegation of ex-mineworkers from the Eastern Cape was.

Mr Seruwe replied that his office had made arrangements for them to be at the meeting. They had been flown to Cape Town the previous day and were supposed to be at the meeting.

The Chairperson said that the absence of the ex-mineworkers from the Eastern Cape had implications for the purpose of the meeting. The people who were directly concerned, were not in the meeting and the coordinators did not know where they were, so the meeting could be a source of fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Mr D Kganare (COPE) said that it was difficult to ask questions about the ex-mineworkers from the Eastern Cape. There had been a lot of reference to TEBA. Regarding the mineworkers without ID numbers, he noted that under the apartheid regime, everybody had had passbooks with numbers. At TEBA, they could state at which mine they had worked and during which period of time. The mine would have the information if the mineworker were a bona fide beneficiary.

Mr Kganare said that it was problematic to try and prescribe that people should not be paid. Mineworkers often moved from one place to another looking for a job. This could make it difficult to trace them. Whoever had a legitimate claim to a benefit had to be paid. He disagreed with putting a deadline to the claims, because it could rob some legitimate beneficiaries of their benefits. The problem was with identifying people. If a worker could not say where he had worked, he probably was not a mineworker and was just taking a chance.

The Chairperson said that even that assertion could be problematic, because the beneficiaries were not only ex-mineworkers themselves. In cases where a mineworker was deceased, his descendants would be the beneficiaries and they would not necessarily know all the details of the former mineworker’s working situation. The discussion could not take place without the ex-mineworkers themselves being present.

Ms F Bikani (ANC) said that there was confusion and disjuncture. It was almost as if a new process was starting. The situation had to be taken seriously, because there were expenses involved. She asked that the meeting went back to the report that the IDTT had to compile on all the beneficiaries, and what was paid to whom. She said that the Portfolio Committee had to stop repeating work. She asked what the next step would be.

Mr S Motau (DA) said that he had expected a report from the IDTT with support from the officials. He thought the people giving the presentation were members of the IDTT.

Mr Motau wanted to agree with the suggestion of keeping the focus on the Eastern Cape situation, but stated that the ex-mineworkers from the Free State and Western Cape could not be ignored. The Chairperson and the IDTT had to give direction on how they were going to be included.

Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) said that the report given by Mr Seruwe was a reflection on the IDTT. It had to be fully supported by all members of the IDTT, including the latecomers, the ex-mineworkers from the Eastern Cape. The problem in this situation was that the report was delivered in the absence of some of the members of the IDTT, the ones that arrived late. In previous meetings, there were complaints from some IDTT members that the report was not what they expected. She asked that the Chairperson give direction on how the meeting would engage on the report of the IDTT.

Ms Makhubela-Mashele asked how the ex-mineworkers from the Free State and Western Cape had come to be included in the IDTT.

Mr Seruwe responded to this question. He said the Committee was aware that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources, Mr Gono, had indicated that there were lots of ex-mineworkers across the country who had not received their benefits. The Committee had also advised the IDTT to go out and do advocacy. The previous Minister of Labour, Mr Mdladlana, had gone to the Eastern Cape and called on ex-mineworkers to come forward with information, especially on the CCOD. The new Minister of Labour had also received a request from the Free State from people who were ex-mineworkers who believed that they were owed money. The IDTT was advised that since it existed already, and it was working in the field of benefits to ex-mineworkers, it had to incorporate the ex-mineworkers from the Free State into its programme.

In the Western Cape there had been marches to Parliament because of this issue. They had also requested to be included in the process. There was a decision to not work in a piecemeal manner. The Minister of Labour had been inundated with requests from other provinces to deal with the matter in a comprehensive manner. The IDTT had therefore been advised to include the Western Cape as well, in order to deal with the issue comprehensively.
The Chairperson asked why the Portfolio Committee on Labour had not been told about the new additions to the IDTT before the meeting. He had held discussions with the IDTT the previous week and he had not been told that the meeting would deal with issues other than the ex-mineworkers from the Eastern Cape. He said that the meeting was not rejecting the ex-mineworkers from the Free State and Western Cape. He was, however, uncomfortable about the fact that the ex-mineworkers from the Eastern Cape were late for this meeting.

The ex-mineworkers from the Eastern Cape arrived when the meeting had been in progress for an hour and a half. The Chairperson asked them for an explanation for being late.

Mr Patrick Nyamfu, President, Ex-Natal Coal and Gold Mineworkers group, Eastern Cape, explained that the transport they had expected to fetch them, had not arrived. They had called Mr Seruwe’s office in Pretoria and had been told to walk to Parliament, because it was close to the hotel where they had stayed. They did not know Cape Town, but eventually had found their way to Parliament. He said that they wanted to participate in the meeting.

The Chairperson said that the coordinators had not applied their minds in order to make sure that the ex-mineworkers from the Eastern Cape were taken care of and assisted to be at the meeting on time. He asked Mr Seruwe never to allow this situation to repeat itself.

Mr Seruwe apologised for the inconvenience caused by the misunderstandings. His office had been arranging the logistics. It was not the first visit of the ex-mineworkers to Parliament and previous visits, also organised by his office, had gone smoothly.
The Chairperson asked Mr Nyamfu whether the ex-mineworkers had had a meeting with the coordinators of the IDTT about the presentation given at this meeting.

Mr Nyamfu replied that he was at the meeting on 13 April, when the task team had prepared to come to the meeting. Mr Seruwe had said that the ex-mineworkers would be invited to Parliament.

Mr Seruwe said that the IDTT had met on 13 April, and the ex-mineworkers had been present. He had indicated to them that they might get an invitation to Parliament and the invitation had been received. The report was based on the meeting of 13 April. It was difficult to have two meetings. The IDTT held monthly meetings and the presentation was a reflection of the meeting of 13 April.

The Chairperson asked whether Mr Seruwe had delivered the presentation he had just delivered to the Committee, to the mineworkers.

Mr Seruwe replied in the negative. The IDTT did not have time to fit in another meeting after that date to deliver the presentation to them.

Mr Motau asked whether ex-mineworkers from the Free State and Western Cape were part of the meeting on 13 April.

Mr Seruwe replied that the ex-mineworkers from the Free State and Western Cape were part of the meeting.

The Chairperson asked Mr Nyamfu whether the points in the presentation reflected the discussion and content of the meeting held on 13 April.

Mr Nyamfu did not have a copy of the presentation and had not seen it beforehand and thus could not answer immediately.

Mr Schmidt said that there was much talk about the list of beneficiaries, but there was no meeting of the minds on a definite final list that all parties had agreed on. He asked why the list was not given to the ex-mineworkers. They could then dispute the list or agree on the list. Then the parties would have to take a decision on whether the list was going to be supplemented.

Mr Kganare said that there might be ex-mineworkers who had not been paid from all over South Africa and Africa. At this stage, the Portfolio Committee was dealing with ex-mineworkers in the Eastern Cape. If the DoL was dealing with any other mineworkers, it had to deal with them separately from the Portfolio Committee. He suggested that the Portfolio Committee get hold of the report on the ex-mineworkers in the Eastern Cape and conclude that project. If there were any other issues, they had to be dealt with separately.

Ms Makhubela-Mashele supported Mr Kganare, because she wanted the IDTT to deal with the ex-mineworkers in the Eastern Cape, and not with the broader issues of mineworkers in other parts of the country. She felt that the Portfolio Committee should not become involved in the operational activities of the Department, like looking at the lists of ex-mineworkers. She felt that the focus should be on the ex-mineworkers in the Eastern Cape, and the project had to be concluded.

The Chairperson said that the Portfolio Committee was sometimes forced to deal with operational matters if they affected the work of the Portfolio Committee. If things were not done properly, the Portfolio Committee needed to micro-manage issues of the Department.

The Chairperson said that the way forward had to be to deal with the Eastern Cape and to put the rest on hold. He suggested that the IDTT met for two to three hours after the current meeting to discuss the way forward. The Portfolio Committee needed to be informed of developments. If not, the next time something similar happened, the delegates would be sent home and the travelling and accommodation expenses would be deducted from their salaries. From this point on the meeting would deal exclusively with the ex-mineworkers in the Eastern Cape.

The Chairperson said that the confusion in terms of the purpose of the meeting stemmed from the fact that the presentation answered a question that had not been asked. It was useful information, but was not what was asked for. He instructed the IDTT to get itself a venue to discuss its next presentation. It also had to agree on how it was going to communicate, in order for everybody to own the documents. Other developments could be worked out at a later stage.

The Chairperson said that any report in the future had to be owned by all members of the IDTT before being presented to Parliament. The members of the IDTT had to agree on what to include and what not. The Chairperson suggested that the discussion on the Eastern Cape ex-mineworkers had to be concluded, but asked for the opinions of the members.

Mr K Manamela (ANC) said that the report that the Portfolio Committee had expected was in relation to the ex-Transkei district, which was specifically for the CCOD. The IDTT was established so that this chapter could be closed. There were now new claims which were not part of the original mandate of the IDTT, which had to be dealt with. The question arose how the Portfolio Committee would deal with new issues nationally, covering not only the Free State and Western Cape, but also including other regions in the Eastern Cape and other areas. He wanted a report on the issues of the mandate (the Eastern Cape) and then a report on how issues outside of the mandate could be dealt with. The secretariat could extract from the last discussions specific recommendations on what to respond to. Then the Portfolio Committee would know whether it was making progress or not.

The Chairperson thanked everybody, including the ex-mineworkers. He told them that it was the Portfolio Committee’s intention to see their issues resolved. The ex-mineworkers could only help the Portfolio Committee to resolve its issues if ex-mineworkers and government officials in the IDTT worked together as a team.

Mr Seruwe, the chairperson of the IDTT, announced that the IDTT would meet in the Minister’s office, and left the meeting.

Consideration and Adoption of the Committee Report on the DoL Budget Vote
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) referred to page four, item 2.5 under the heading: Findings. The second bullet point read: “How working conditions of inspectors can be improved.” In his opinion, the problem was not working conditions. The productivity of inspectors had to be improved and the accusations against them -- on the one hand of targeting the employers, and on the other of being in cahoots with employers -- had to be addressed. He did not know how they wanted to change working conditions, which related to working hours, salaries, and so on. He felt the more pertinent issues were the productivity, integrity, autonomy, and respect for labour inspectors, and this needed to be highlighted.

Mr Motau suggested the wording: “Although the inspection and enforcement services highlighted sectors that would be inspected, it did not indicate how the productivity and integrity of the inspectors would be improved.” There was a question about their credibility and whether they were doing as much as they were supposed to.

Mr Van der Westhuizen said that “credibility” was a better word and could be substituted for “integrity” in his suggestion.

The Chairperson said that these matters had been raised on oversight visits. There had been accusations and counter-accusations being levelled at inspectors and some things they did were not necessarily wrong, but depended on the way in which they were done. Training, up-skilling and re-tooling the inspectorate would hopefully address some of these issues. The laws had to give inspectors teeth so that they could issue spot fines. These aspects would improve the integrity and credibility of inspectors.

Mr Manamela agreed with all the points raised, but did not think that working conditions had to be dropped from the sentence. His observation was that the capacity of the DoL in terms of inspection and enforcement services, was extremely limited and much more capacity was needed. If one looked at the area they were supposed to cover, it was impossible to do justice to the job. Part of the observation of the Portfolio Committee was to look at the capacity to be able to conduct inspections and enforcement. This had to be added to the points of credibility, integrity and productivity.

Ms Makhubela-Mashele said that the DoL previously came to the Committee to ask for more funds to be directed to the inspectorate. The Committee had approved R315m to enhance the capacity of the Inspectorate and implement an enforcement programme. She did not know where the R315m had been used. In some provinces, cars had been bought, but some inspectors could not do inspections because cars were shared at labour centres. Inspectors travelled in groups and had to give each other lifts, drop each other off and pick each other up. She did not know how much money was needed to make the inspectorate independent. Mobility was still a problem.

The Chairperson said that inspectors did not have laptops. They needed the tools of work to be effective. They had to share and use what was there. It was unprofessional.
It was apparent that more money was needed to appoint more inspectors and to do more up-skilling.

The Chairperson agreed that the sentence needed to be reworked.
Mr Kganare wanted clarity on page five 3.1, bullet point 2. The report read:” These skills improve professionalism”

Mr Motau suggested: ”..build up skills to improve professionalism.”

Mr Kganare said he had understood that the “building of skills” meant building skills in the labour market.

Mr Van der Westhuizen suggested: “To build up skills of staff to improve professionalism.”

Mr Manamela said it was not clear. He felt that it had to be improved.

Mr E Nyekemba (ANC) said that he had not been part of the meeting where the strategic plans were discussed, but he knew that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) built skills across the board to be efficient and professional. It was not only improving the skills of its own staff.

The Chairperson said that the CCMA trained shop stewards, its own commissioners and administrators, as well as industry. It was building, up-skilling and re-tooling both its own staff and partners.

Mr Manamela suggested: “To build up skills to achieve professionalism.”

Mr Motau and Ms Makhubele-Mashele agreed with this wording.

Mr Manamela proposed that bullets should not be used, but rather numbers, the alphabetic system or Roman numerals.

The report was adopted, with amendments.

Revised Draft Second Term Programme
The Committee discussed its programme for the rest of the second term.

The meeting was adjourned.



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