Ollis Proposal to amend the Labour Relations Act, Report and Minute adoption

Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions

18 September 2012
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (ANC
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson and Members noted their concern that the Committee had been unable to meet for three weeks, due to administrative issues, and had been unable to reach a quorum at the last meeting. Members were urged to ensure that, if they were unable to attend, their parties would insist that the alternates be present.

No new legislative proposals had been received. The Committee returned to its consideration of the Ollis Proposal to amend the Labour Relations Act, which was basically to provide for accountability of unions in the event of destruction of property, violence and intimidation by their members during strike action. The Committee, noting that the principles behind this proposal were very similar to case that was then pending before the Constitutional Court, in the matter of SATAWU v Garvis and Others, had decided to await the Constitutional court’s decision before arriving at its decision. Copies of the judgment had been circulated to Members. The Parliamentary Legal Advisors’ opinion had addressed the fact that this case was decided on provisions in the Public Gatherings Act, whereas Mr Ollis’s proposal related to the Labour Relations Act, but Members considered that since the matter fell squarely within the Rules, the legislative proposal should be referred to the Portfolio Committee on Labour, for further processing. The Chairperson noted that this Committee could not dictate to another Portfolio Committee what matters it should take into consideration.

It was noted that Ms Lovemore’s proposal to amend the Electoral Act would be considered on 10 October 2012, and that a meeting with the Independent Electoral Commission to obtain feedback would hopefully take place prior to that. 

The Fourth Term Committee Programme, and the Committee Report on the Strategic Planning Workshop were adopted, whilst the Committee received, but would only later deliberate on the draft report on the Study Tour to Canada. The minutes of 22 August and 8 August 2012 were adopted, with amendments. It was specifically reflected, in the minutes of 22 August, that in future all reports and documentation had to be referred to the Members four working days (Thursday) before the Committee meeting. It was also resolved that concerns about documentation, staff support and training of support staff would be raised with the Committee Section.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed Members to the meeting, and noted that the Committee had not, for administrative reasons, met for three weeks and the last meeting was hindered by the lack of quorum. He noted that no new legislative proposals or special petitions had been received.

Mr F Bhang (ANC) was concerned at the number of meetings that had to be cancelled for lack of a quorum, and said that alternate Members should be attending.

The Chairperson reminded Members of their obligation to serve the public, and urged them to liaise with their respective parties to ensure that, if they could not attend, their alternates would do so.

He congratulated Ms Patricia Kopane on being elected as Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance in the Free State and said he was confident she would assist the country moving forward.

Ms F Khumalo (ANC) echoed those sentiments. Ms Kopane was not only doing something for her party but for the nation. She was also pleased to see that the need for women taking the lead was recognised.

The Chairperson expressed relief that the mining strike that had affected everyone in South Africa had ended
.

Ollis proposal to amend the Labour Relations Act
The Chairperson summarised that the object of Mr Ollis’s proposal was to provide for accountability of unions, in the event of destruction of property, violence and intimidation by their members during strike action. The Committee had agreed to await the outcome of the Constitutional Court case SATAWU v Garvis and Others before arriving at a decision. Copies of the judgment had been circulated to Members.

Ms J Kilian (COPE) sought clarity on that. Adv Gary Rhoda, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, had said that the legislative proposal was drafted in order to amend the labour legislation, but the matter before the Constitutional Court related to the Public Gatherings Act. If there was still a vacuum in the law that needed to be addressed through the Labour Relations Act, then she felt that the proposal should be forwarded to the Portfolio Committee on Labour, so that it could determine whether that Act had to be amended.

The Chairperson clarified that in law one piece of legislation would suffice.

Ms Kilian said that Adv Rhoda’s opinion, under point 10, concluded that the legislative proposal would have to be considered in terms of the categories set out in Rule 235A of the NA Rules. Mr Ollis’s proposal was not in conflict with the criteria set out in a) to f).

She asked for clarity on the status of the regulations, pointing out that most often a Regulation could be amended without it necessarily having to be approved by Parliament. She thought that for this reason it might be more appropriate to capture the issues by legislative amendment. It was not the role of this Committee to debate the merits of the proposal. She proposed that it be forwarded to the Portfolio Committee on Labour.

Ms Kopane referred to the minutes of 30 May. The Committee had suggested that pending the Constitutional Court ruling, the comment of the Labour Portfolio Committee should be requested. She asked if it had made  any submission.

The Chairperson replied that this was not done.

Ms Kopane asked why the matter was not forwarded to the relevant portfolio committee.

The Chairperson said it was also agreed that the matter was dependent on the Court’s ruling. If this Committee felt the Court’s ruling did not help in arriving at a decision, then it could be referred to the Labour Committee for comment, but this would not otherwise be necessary.

The Committee resolved to accept Mr Ollis’s legislative proposal and refer it to the Portfolio Committee on Labour, for processing.

Ms Kopane asked if the Portfolio Committee on Labour could be asked to take the judgment into consideration.

The Chairperson said once it was forwarded on, this Committee could not tell another Committee what it should do.

Fourth Term Committee Programme
The Committee considered the programme.

Ms Kilian referred to the scheduling of Ms A Lovemore’s proposal to amend the Electoral Act for 10 October 2012. She asked whether any feedback had been received from the Department of Home Affairs or the Electoral Commission. She commented that she had served on a Party Liaison Committee of the Electoral Commission that was serious on the need to comply with the Constitutional Court ruling, and it was important to have that information before the Committee dealt with the issue.

The Chairperson clarified that a meeting with the IEC was scheduled, to obtain details on the status of the legislative proposal, but that meeting had been cancelled. It was hoped that another meeting could take place before 10 October, the date on which it was hoped that Ms Lovemore’s proposal could be finalised. There would also be a meeting with Department of Home Affairs. He pointed out that any amendments would have to be effected by the Portfolio Committee, not the IEC.

Members adopted the Fourth Term Programme.

Draft Committee Report on Study tour to Canada
The first draft report was tabled, and Members were asked to study it and make submissions in the next week.

Draft Committee Report on Strategic Planning Workshop
The Committee considered and adopted the draft report.

Adoption of Committee Minutes
Meeting on 22 August 2012

Members engaged in substantial discussion on item 4, around what constituted a reasonable time to receive reports. According to the minutes, Members should receive minutes and reports at least four days before the meeting, to allow them to properly
analyse the documents and prepare for constructive input in meetings.

Ms Kilian believed a resolution was adopted that reports would be received at least five days in advance, namely on a Thursday, so that Members could study them prior to leaving for the weekend, but that was not captured.

The Chairperson said it was not possible that minutes be distributed on a Thursday.

Ms Kilian said that was not the intention, but rather that Members must receive all documents and reports that were to be considered on the following Wednesday, on the Thursday prior to the meeting.

Ms Kopane thought that that was captured under the item ‘Responses to concerns raised’.

Ms Kilian said that whilst this was so, the item referred to “four days” which would mean a Sunday. Members had agreed on a Thursday submission.

The Chairperson suggested that the term “four working days” be substituted, but Ms Kilian said that a specific reference to Thursday must be inserted, so Members would receive documentation prior to returning home for the weekend.

Mr Bhengu said the minutes were a true reflection of what had transpired, and the issue was noted because of concerns that Members were receiving reports only a day or two before the meeting. The Committee had reflected upon systems in the Committee Section that needed to be improved. Because reports were generally cumbersome, a four-day period was suggested.

The Chairperson was concerned that once that was adopted, the Secretariat must provide every document in any way related to the programme. He thought the issue was that four working days was agreed.

Ms Kilian was insistent that this had not been correctly captured. She noted that the agenda and minute items did not correlate – for instance even if no announcements were made, the heading “Announcements” and the remark “none” should be reflected in the Minutes. She was not happy with the way in which her concerns were captured, nor the resolution recorded. After “Responses to concerns raised” there should be a separate section noting the resolution, in which “four working days” must be captured. She suggested, overall, that a more business-like approach be taken to minuting matters, to allow the Committee to move quickly through them.

Ms Kilian proposed deleting the section ‘Responses to concerns raised’ and replacing it with  ‘The Committee resolved that minutes and reports should be distributed a minimum of four working days before a meeting.’ The Committee Secretary should then insert the time of the adjournment, and whether there were any other items on the agenda, so that the headings in the minutes bore a direct reference to the same item number of the agenda.

The Chairperson asked for clarification on the third bullet under ‘Responses to concerns raised’. This noted that the delay around reports and minutes needed to be addressed with the Chairpersons, the Whip and the administration.

Mr Bhengu clarified that this referred to the Chairpersons’ Forum. All committees were complaining about the same thing. Minutes were too narrative, and did not record the resolutions. Too much time was wasted on correcting grammar and language. Management of Parliament should be notified of these concerns.

Members agreed that the section of the Minutes headed ‘Responses to concerns raised’ should be redrafted.

Ms Kilian said this was a very important resolution. Apart from the days by when Members wished to receive documentation, the Committee’s concerns about necessary support, and training of support staff, must be  raised with the Committee Section.|

The minutes were adopted, with amendments.

Meeting of 8 August
The Minutes of the Committee meeting held on 8 August 2012 were adopted, with technical amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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