The Portfolio Committee on Labour met to consider and adopt its report on the Strategic Plans and Budgets of the Department of Labour and its entities 2013/18.
A DA Member commended the quality of the writing of the report. He advised strengthening the recommendation on the retraining of workers affected by occupational injuries and diseases. There should also be a recommendation on the serious and growing backlogs in the number of cases that the Compensation Fund adjudicated. An ANC Member suggested that the Committee recommend additional allocations to help the National Economic Development and Labour Council strengthen its mandate effectively. Nedlac's small budget was not quite sufficient for it to effectively implement its mandate. The Chairperson emphasised that the Committee's last recommendation was that Nedlac's mandate should be inclusive of the unemployed and most vulnerable. A DA Member agreed totally, because currently the unemployed felt that no one was representing their interests. The Committee also debated recommendations on the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, the Labour Inspectorate, and Productivity South Africa. The Committee noted that it needed more interactions with the Department’s entities.
The Committee adopted the report with amendments.
Mr K Manamela (ANC) said that the Committee needed two more Members in order to quorate so as to be able to adopt the report. There were four apologies: the Chairperson - Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC), Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC), Mr E Nyekemba (ANC) and Mr M Mncwango (IFP). He suggested that they look for two Members from other Committees so that the Committee could quorate and adopt the report. In the meantime, while the Committee Secretary was looking for two more Members, the Members present should go through the report page by page.
Mr Manamela said that the Members present should start with the Committee's recommendations so that when the two Members joined the meeting they could adopt the report.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) said that there was work to be done on the report. Secondly, for formality, Members needed to vote for the Acting Chairperson.
Election of Acting Chairperson
Mr A Van der Westhuizen (DA) proposed that Mr Manamela be the Acting Chairperson.
Mr F Maserumule (ANC) said the question of electing an acting chairperson did not arise.
Mr Manamela said that it did arise.
Mr A Williams (ANC) seconded the proposal.
The Committee agreed that Mr Manamela should be the Acting Chairperson.
Committee Report on Department of Labour & Entities Strategic Plans 2013The Acting Chairperson suggested that the Members go through the report page by page.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said he did not know who wrote that report because the Committee Researcher was on sick leave but complimented whoever wrote it for his/her writing ability in terms of grammar and spelling. It was a report of a high standard.
Mr Van der Westhuizen proposed that Members accept pages 1 - 4 of the report
Mr Maserumule said that there must be an addition on issues of learnerships, bursaries and training because there was much money located in the Compensation Fund (CF). However, nobody was talking about learnerships and bursaries, for which that money in the CF could be used. Somebody needed to make those additions.
The Chairperson asked whether Mr Mserumule was talking about learnerships from the Department of Labour.
Mr Maserumule replied that he was talking about things that could be done with the money that was sitting in the CF.
The Chairperson said that the Committee should put that as a recommendation.
Mr S Motau (DA) noted that there were no recommendations for the Department in the report.
The Chairperson said that all the recommendations were at the end of the report.
The Chairperson welcomed three Members who had joined the meeting.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that Members were busy with the report and there was work still to be done. He proposed that, since the three Members were busy at another meeting, they could go to their meeting and rejoin the Labour Portfolio Committee meeting at a later stage when it was time to adopt the report.
The Committee agreed that the three Members could go and come back when it was time to adopt the report.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that the Committee could add 'B' at the bottom of the recommendations on the CF. To complement Mr Maserumule's view on one of the recommendations Members needed to consider strengthening the recommendation on the retraining of workers affected by occupational injuries and diseases. The CF could not be used for bursaries in a wider sense but there was a smaller initiative at the CF. For example, if a person lost and could be no longer a construction worker but could repair cell phones, he or she might qualify for help under this smaller initiative which sought to return people to productive livelihoods within the CF’s scope. The second recommendation should be on the serious and growing backlogs in the number of cases adjudicated by the CF, for which the CF was getting much criticism.
Mr Motau said that a recommendation to the CF was on whether there was a progress report of the task team that the Minister had appointed to investigate the deteriorating situation at the CF in leadership and governance.
The Chairperson said that the resolution was that the Committee would have extended discussions with the CF if further recommendations were made. The report needed to include this resolution of the previous meeting.
Mr Williams said that there were no recommendations on page 6 on the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). He suggested that the Committee recommend additional allocations in order for Nedlac to strengthen its mandate effectively. The small budget of Nedlac was not quite sufficient for it to effectively implement its mandate.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that the first recommendation would link to Mr Williams’ recommendation which was to capacitate the Secretariat of Nedlac, i.e., (a) through additional budgets, (b) to continuously improve the turnaround times of cases with which Nedlac dealt, and (c) to ensure that the interests of the unemployed and most vulnerable were accommodated in Nedlac's decisions.
The Chairperson emphasised that the last recommendation was that the Nedlac’s mandate should be inclusive of the unemployed and most vulnerable.
Mr Motau agreed totally, because what was happening currently was that the unemployed felt that no one was representing their interests. This was something that he had already proposed to the Minister.
The Chairperson said that Members were essentially talking about strengthening the community constituency which was that component part of Nedlac for advancing the interests of the unemployed and most vulnerable.
Mr Motau said that one of the big criticisms directed at Nedlac was that it was becoming a bargaining chamber for big business and big unions which detracted from the credibility of the organisation.
Mr Maserumule said that he had taken a drive to Sekhukhuneland, Limpopo to find out where the unemployed motor mechanics were, how many were unemployed, what they were doing, what kind of resources they needed, and what the Committee could do for them so that they could earn money officially and pay tax on it. He asked how the unemployed motor mechanics could tap into 'that programme' so as to create employment.
The Chairperson said that this was in relation to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). The Committee had raised the point some time ago that the UIF had so many reserves which needed to be reinvested in order to ensure that it leaded to employment creation, not only in certain sectors, but broadly. The Department needed to look at ways of using the reserves in order to create employment.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that the Committee needed to consider the recommendation that the benefits payable by the UIF, especially for those on maternity leave, should be improved.
Mr Van der Westhuizen proposed that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) should concentrate on measures to lessen the case loads and measures such as guidance to employers and employees so that unnecessary cases brought to it were avoided.
The Chairperson recollected that when he was still a member of the union, its members received training from the CCMA. He was not sure whether that still happened.
Mr Maserumule said that something needed to be done to beef up the funds of Productivity South Africa so as to broaden its activities because it was doing a wonderful job and it needed to be visible on the ground.
Mr Williams said that currently Productivity South Africa was like a rescuer of the last resort. The Committee should recommend that Productivity South Africa should develop the capacity needed in order to position itself as a consultant of choice for all entities wanting to improve productivity, and not remain a service provider of the last resort to entities on the brink of bankruptcy. The reason for his putting emphasis on capacity was his impression that the biggest clients of Productivity SA currently were Government, the UIF, and schools in Limpopo. Productivity SA should be saving jobs. Improving productivity within education was excellent but was not going to create more jobs.
Mr Motau agreed with the two recommendations of more funding and the thrust of what Productivity SA was going to do. The Committee did not have enough insight on what Productivity SA was going to do. When it last reported to the Committee, Members were fascinated about the actual work Productivity SA was doing. Because Productivity SA could not sell or market itself it depended on the Department's other entities.
The Chairperson said that Members had obviously not had enough time to interact frequently with the Department’s entities because of the labour law amendments. The Committee needed more interactions. Probably the Committee should receive reports from entities once a quarter, not just the annual reports.
Mr Williams said that under recommendations on page 8 the Committee should put recommendations for the Department. The Committee should recommend that urgent attention be given to increasing the Inspectorate’s capacity in light of existing and new legislation that had to be policed. Although the Department had said it would pay the Inspectors more, there should be capacity building. There should be more inspectors in general and the Department needed seriously to restructure the entire Inspectorate because it was not effective and its implementation would be ineffective as well.
Mr Williams moved for the adoption of the report.
Mr Maserumule seconded.
The Committee adopted the report.
The meeting was adjourned.
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