Labour Relations Amendment Bill: Final deliberations and adoption

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Employment and Labour

16 June 2013
Chairperson: Mr M Nchabaleng (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to adopt the Labour Relations Amendment Bill and its Report on the Bill. They considered the original Bill (as introduced), the A-list which had been brought up to date to reflect all amendments proposed by the Committee to date, and what was referred to as the B-version, although technically speaking an “official” B-version would not exist until after the Bill had been adopted in the House.

The Parliamentary Legal Advisors took the Committee through every clause of the Bill, highlighting the clauses where there had been proposals to amend the original wording. In summary, Members agreed to the insertion of a new clause 1, a new clause 43 (reflecting changes to the Short Title), and the new Long Title of the Bill, which had been amended in consequence of certain clauses having been removed or added. The Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill, although it would not form part of the final Bill as adopted in the House, had also been “tidied up” to reflect consistent numbering.

The Members agreed to the rejection of clauses 13, 27 and 28, 31(a), 33(a), 34 and 38. The ANC Members, who were in a majority, voted for the rejection of clauses 6 and 8(a) and (b), with objections being recorded by the DA and COPE. They also voted for the rejection of clause 20, where the DA noted its objection to the removal of the clause, but COPE had no objections.

Clauses 3, 10, 14, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 32, 33, 25, 27, 41, 43 and 48 were agreed to, with the amendments as reflected in the A-list. Clause 44 was also adopted with amendments as reflected in the A-list, but here the DA noted its objection. The remainder of the clauses of the Bill were agreed to without amendments.

The Committee adopted its report, noting the adoption of the Bill with the amendments, but did not go into any detail about the changes made.

The Committee then adopted Minutes of 5 and 11 June.

Meeting report

Labour Relations Amendment Bill: Final deliberations and adoption
The Chairperson noted that since the deliberations on this Bill had begun, the Committee had engaged in substantial debate. In today's meeting the Committee would be taken through the changes, then vote clause by clause on the Bill.

Dr Barbara Loots, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, took Members through the A-list, noting also that Members should refer to the Bill as introduced, and the B-version of the Bill. There was a proposal that some clauses be rejected. The clause numbers that she would be giving in her remarks were the clause numbers in the original Bill, as introduced, to keep track of all the amendments. |

She also noted that some remaining typographical errors had been picked up, and the legal team would ask the printers to correct them.

The amendments of sections referred to sections of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

Later in the meeting, Adv Anthea Gordon, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, clarified that only after the Second Reading Debate would there in fact be an “official” B-version; technically speaking, what the Members had before them was a version of the Bill containing proposed amendments. However, for ease of reference, it would be referred to here as “the B-version”.

A-list: proposed new clause: Amendment section 3 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), Act 66 of 1995
This clause would become Clause 1 of the B-version of the Bill. In the new clause, there was a reference to “sub-paragraph (a)” but this should read “paragraph (a)”.

Members agreed to this new clause

Clause 1: Definitions
Dr Loots noted that clause 1, as introduced, had some amendments, as listed on pages 2 and 3.

Members adopted this clause, with the amendments.

Clause 2 of original Bill: amendment section 21 of LRA
There were no proposals to amend this clause, and it would be renumbered as clause 3 in the B-version.

Members agreed to this clause.

Clause 3: Amendment of Section 32 of LRA of Bill as introduced, and in B-version, with amendments
Dr Loots noted the change of wording, as set out in the A-list

Members adopted the clause, with amendments.

Clause 4: Amendment of section 49 of LRA as introduced: to be renumbered as clause 5 in B-version
Dr Loots noted that this clause was not reflected in the A-list, because no amendments were highlighted.

Members adopted the clause, with no amendments

Clause 5: Amendment of section 51 of LRA
Dr Loots noted that no changes were proposed.

Members adopted the clause, without any amendments.

Clause 6: Amendment of section 64 of LRA
Dr Loots noted that the Committee had voted in principle on this clause in the previous meeting, when the majority agreed to reject the clause.

Mr S Motau (DA) noted a very strong objection of the DA to the rejection of this Clause.

The objection was noted.

Mr D Kganare (COPE) also agreed that it was a mistake to reject the clause, although he did not feel as strongly as Mr Motau.

The majority of Members were in favour of the clause being rejected, and this was duly noted.

Clause 7: Amendment of section 65
Dr Loots noted that no amendments had been proposed.

The Committee adopted the clause.

Clause 8: Amendment of Section 67
Dr Loots reminded Members that the decision on clause 6 had a consequential impact on clause 8. The rejection of clause 6 led to the rejection of clause 8(a).

However, the Committee must consider the portion retained.

Mr Motau again noted the strong objection of the DA to the rejection of clause 8(a)

Mr Kganare noted COPE's position was similar to what he had expressed for clause 6.

The ANC Members unanimously recorded their support for rejection of clause 8(a).

Dr Loots noted that it would be possible to re-open the vote should Members wish to do so, despite the fact that a decision in principle had been taken at the last meeting.

Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) proposed that an official vote be taken today on this clause.

Ms Makhubela-Mashele pointed out that clause 8 was essentially a consequential rejection following on from clause 6.

Dr Loots noted that the rejection of clause 8(b) was also proposed in the A-list. Members confirmed that they wished this clause to be rejected.

Mr Motau recorded the DA call for a division.

The majority of Members, six, all from the NAC, voted to reject the clause. Three Members, two from DA and one from COPE, recorded their objections to the rejection of the clause.

Clause 9: Amendment of section 69
This clause was for consideration without any amendments, and Members accepted the clause.

Clause 10: Amendment to section 70
Mr van der Westhuizen pointed out that paragraphs (b) and (c) appeared on page 10 of the A-list, and asked for an explanation.

Dr Loots noted that two paragraphs had been deleted and the (c) formed part of the deletion. This was done to allow for clearer wording. She referred Members to line 27, on page 5 of the B-version, for how it would read.

Members accepted this clause, as amended.

Clause 11: insertion of new sections after section 70
Members agreed to accept this clause.

Clause 12: Amendment of section 71 of LRA
There were no amendments proposed by the Committee, and Members agreed to accept the clause.

Clause 13: Substitution of section 72 of LRA
Dr Loots reminded Members that the Committee had proposed a rejection of this clause.

Members voted to reject this clause.

Clause 14:  Amendment of Section 72
Dr Loots noted that there was substitution of some wording.

Members agreed with this clause, as amended..

Clause 15:Amendment of section 73
Dr Loots noted that no proposed amendments were highlighted in the A-list.

Dr van der Westhuizen was not sure why the wording “and about whether a service” was repeated, saying that it seemed clumsy. He thought the wording could be improved.

Dr Loots said that there was no legal consequence; this was the wording as introduced by the Department of Labour (DOL). She also said that headings were not considered for the purposes of interpretation.

Mr van der Westhuizen proposed that the heading be changed, by the removal of the second “about”, to read merely” Disputes about minimum services and whether a service is an essential service”.

Mr Motau agreed that this was not clear English.

The Chairperson asked if this could be considered as a technical change that could be effected outside the meeting.

Dr Loots said that any change would have to be reflected in the A-list, because it was a deletion of a word, and it was different from technical punctuation amendments, despite the fact that it carried no legal interpretation consequences.

Some Members indicated their support for the change, but Mr A Williams (ANC) saw no problem with the wording, and quipped that he was speaking as an English mother-tongue speaker.

Mr E Nyekemba (ANC) said that this work today was the final step in the process and he agreed with Mr Williams that since there was no material implication arising from the inclusion of the second “about”, for practical reasons and to avoid another A-list having to be drawn, he would prefer the current wording to remain.

The Chairperson had no problem with either version.

Members adopted this clause, without any amendments. It would be reflected as clause 14 in the B-version.

Clause 16: Amendment of section 74  of LRA
No amendments were proposed to this clause.

Members agreed to adopt the Clause.

Clause 17: Insertion of new section 103A
Dr Loots noted that some amendments had been proposed to the original wording, as reflected on the A-list.

Members agreed to adopt the clause, as amended.

Clause 18: Amendment of section 111 of LRA
No changes had been suggested to this clause, so it did not appear in the A-list.

Members agreed to the clause, without any amendments.

Clause 19: Amendment of section 115 of LRA
Members adopted the clause, with no amendments.

Clause 20: Amendment of Section 127
Dr Loots said that it had been proposed that this clause would be deleted from the B-list, as a consequence of the rejection of earlier clauses 6 and 8.

Mr Motau noted the objection of the DA to the rejection of this clause.

Mr Kganare also noted the objection of COPE to the rejection of this clause.

The ANC Members voted to reject this clause. Six votes were recorded in favour of rejection and three against.

Clause 21: Amendment of section 138
Dr Loots noted that no changes had been suggested to this clause.

Members adopted this clause.

Clause 22: Amendment of section 143
Dr Loots noted that there were amendments reflected in the A list.

Members adopted the version, as amended.

Clause 23: Amendment of section 144
Dr Loots noted that amendments were set out in the A list.

Members adopted this clause, as amended.

Clause 24:  Amendment of section 145
Members agreed to adopt the clause, with the amendments set out in the A-list.

The clause would be renumbered as clause 22.

Clause 25: Amendment of section 147
Members adopted the clause, with the changes as reflected in the A-list.

Clause 26: Substitution of section 150
Members agreed to this clause, as amended.

Clauses 27 and 28: amendments to sections 151 and 154
Dr Loots noted that the Committee had met with the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development (the Justice PC) and had agreed in principle that these clauses should be rejected. However, no final vote had been taken.

Members voted unanimously to reject clauses 27 and 28.

Clause 29 Amendment of section 157
Dr Loots noted that no amendments had been proposed to this clause.

Members agreed to accept this clause, without amendments. It would be renumbered as clause 25.

Clause 30: Amendment of section 158 of LRA
Members agreed to accept this clause 30, with no amendments.

Clause 31: Amendment of section 159
Dr Loots noted that this clause was also considered during the meeting with members of the Justice PC when it was agreed that, in principle, the portion referring to the Minister appointing members to the Rules Board should be rejected.

Mr Williams proposed that the clause be rejected.

Dr Loots wanted to clarify whether this proposals related to clause 31(a) only.

Mr Williams corrected his proposal, and proposed that clause 31(a) be rejected.

Mr Kganare noted that he would like to move for the adoption of the remainder of the clause, namely clause 31(b).

Members agreed to reject clause 31(a) but to accept clause 31(b).

Clause 32: Amendment of section 161 of LRA
Members proposed that the clause be accepted, without amendments. It would be renumbered as clause 28

Clause 33: Amendment of section 168
There were no amendments proposed to this clause, and Members agreed to adopt it.

Mr van de Westhuizen thought that clause 33 had been rejected.

Dr Loots said that this clause was actually finally retained, following the discussion with the Justice PC, because it allowed for the filling of positions of judges. It would be renumbered as clause 27.

Clause 34: Amendment of section 170
Dr Loots noted that Members had been in agreement, following the meeting with the Justice PC, that the clause be rejected but a formal vote was still required.

Members agreed to reject the clause.

Clause 35: Amendment of section 186
Dr Loots noted that there were amendments listed on page 5 of the A-list.
 
Members voted to accept the clause, as amended. It would be renumbered as clause 30.

Clause 36: Amendment of section 187
Dr Loots noted that no amendments had been proposed.

Members adopted the clause, which would be renumbered as clause 31.

Clause 37: Amendment of section 188A
Dr Loots noted that no amendment had been proposed to this clause.

Members agreed to adopt the clause, with no amendments.

Clause 38: Insertion of new section 188B
Dr Loots said that the A-list reflected this as a clause to be rejected.

Members agreed to reject the clause. Dr Loots clarified that this clause did not appear in the B-version of the Bill.

Clause 39: Amendment of section 189A
Dr Loots noted that no amendments had been reflected in the A-list for this clause.

Members agreed to adopt the clause, without amendments. It would be renumbered as clause 33.

Clause 40: Amendment of section 190
Dr Loots noted that no amendments had been proposed to this clause.

Members adopted clause 40, which would be renumbered as clause 34.

Clause 41: Amendment of section 191
Dr Loots noted that there had been amendments proposed, which were reflected on the A-list at page 5.

Members adopted the clause, to be renumbered as clause 35.

Clause 42: Substitution of heading
Dr Loots noted that this was not reflected in the A-list, so no changes were proposed to the heading as set out in the original Bill.

Members agreed to the substitution of the heading.

Clause 43: Amendment of section 198
Dr Loots noted that page 5 of the A-list, the third item and third line of the proposed paragraph (b), contained a typographical error. It should read “ services were procured for or provided”. That would be communicated to the printers to correct.

With that, and the other amendments as set out in the A list, the Committee was asked to adopt the clause.

Members adopted the clause, as amended, to be renumbered as clause 36.

Clause 44: insertion of new sections 198A to 198D
Dr Loots noted that there was a long list of amendments proposed for this clause, many of which were grammatical changes.

She further noted the change of the figure “six” to “three” (for the time periods).

Mr Kganare moved for the adoption of this clause, and it was seconded by Mr Williams.
 
Mr Motau noted the objection of the DA to this clause, and Mr van der Westhuizen concurred.

The objections were noted, but the majority of Members agreed to adopt this clause, as amended.

Clause 45: amendment of section 200A
No amendments were proposed to this clause.

Members accepted the clause, to be renumbered as clause 39.

Clause 46: Insertion of new section 200B
No amendments had been proposed to this clause.

Members accepted the clause, with no amendments.

Clause 47: Amendment to section 203
Dr Loots noted that there were no proposed amendments.

Members agreed to adopt the clause, without amendments. It would be reflected as clause 41 in the B version of the Bill.

Clause 48: Amendment of section 213
Dr Loots noted the proposals for amendment of this clause in the A list.

Members accepted this clause, as amended, to be renumbered as clause 42.

New clause: reflected on A list: to be reflected as clause 43 in B-version of the Bill
Dr Loots drew Members' attention to the proposed new clause, which would substitute, in the long title of the principal LRA, the reference to “section 27” by a reference to “section 23”.

This was adopted.

Clause 49: Amendment Schedule 7
Dr Loots noted that there were no amendments proposed to this clause.

Members adopted the clause, with no amendments. It would be renumbered as clause 44.

Clause 50: Short title
Dr Loots noted that this clause had some proposed amendments, as noted in the A list.

Mr van der Westhuizen asked whether the Act would still be listed as a “2012” Act.

Dr Loots said that the date of 2012 would be retained until the whole Bill process had run its course. When it was assigned an Act number, it would bear the date of the year in which it was passed.

Mr Suraya Williams, State Law Adviser, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, confirmed that the number of the Bill would be retained whilst it was still running the processes through the NCOP and to the President, but a new number would be assigned when it was made into an Act.

However, some of the sections would come into operation on different dates, and that would be set in the Proclamation.

Changes to Long Title
Dr Loots noted that on page 8 of the A list there was a reflection of the changes to the Long Title, consequent upon the amendments that had been proposed by the Committee, such as removal of balloting and rejection of other clauses. |

Adv Anthea Gordon, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, clarified that although the A list had not been redrafted by the Parliamentary Legal Advisors, as this was not their task, they had removed the portions no longer applicable.

Mr van der Westhuizen said that the Long Title did not refer to the regulation of temporary employment services (TES) and he proposed that something should be included.

Dr Loots pointed out to him that on page 8, five lines from the bottom, there was a reference to “workers placed in temporary employment services” and she asked whether that phrasing would be satisfactory.

Ms Gordon added that this was how it was worded in the Bill as introduced.

Mr Thembinkosi Mkalipi, Chief Director, Department of Labour, said that there was also regulation of the TES in the present law, and all that was really being done under this Bill was to build in further protection for the workers who were working for TES.

Mr van der Westhuizen noted that the Long Title now read as “regulate the employment of fixed term contracts” He thought that this should be “employment under fixed term contracts”.

Ms Gordon said that this was the wording as introduced. The Parliamentary Legal Advisors had not changed this.

Mr van der Westhuizen thought that it did not make sense and should be amended.

Mr Nyekemba said that a fixed term contract would be required by a particular establishment and he did not think that there was anything wrong with the wording. It referred to an establishment with that type of employment, rather than a category of worker.

Mr Manamela suggested that the word “employees” was supposed to cover fixed-term contracts and part-time employees.

Mr van der Westhuizen was not entirely happy but said he could live with the wording if other Members did not wish to change it.

Mr Manamela (who was acting as Chairperson at this point) noted the adoption of the changed Long Title. 

Memorandum on Objects
Adv Gordon said that the Memorandum on the Objects had been amended also, which would be seen on page 24 of the B-Bill. The changes were not substantial, but were essentially aligning the new clause numbers in the B-version and ensuring that there was consistency of references. Although the Memorandum did not form part of the Bill as passed, it did allow the public to understand what the Committee had debated and decided upon.

Mr Manamela noted the agreement of Members that this be noted and recorded.

Future process
Mr Nyekemba asked for an indication of the future process.

Mr Manamela said that the Whips of the parties had agreed that the Bills be tabled on Thursday in the NA. The Committee had a draft Report ready, which the Committee would shortly be asked to consider.

Adv Gordon added that the Second Reading Debate was scheduled for Thursday 20 June, and this would be reported on in the ATC. The signature of the Bill would bring the process in this Committee to an end. The changes would be made by the printers, and the next round of printed documents would reflect the A-list as “agreed to”, rather than “proposed”. She also clarified that only after the Second Reading Debate would there in fact be an “official” B-version; technically speaking, what the Members had before them was a version of the Bill containing proposed amendments.

Adoption of Committee Report on the Bill
Mr Manamela read out the Committee Report on the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, which reflected that the Committee, having considered the Bill, reported the Bill with amendments.

Members quipped that that seemed very short for the amount of work that had gone into the Bill. However, the Report was adopted.

Mr van der Westhuizen noted that the DA still had some serious reservations about the Bill and its effects upon unemployment.

However, he said that he wanted to record his appreciation for the support of the State Law Advisers and the Parliamentary Legal Team. He admired the value of their services, and their neutral and unbiased stance, and proposed a vote of thanks from the Committee.

The Chairperson thanked all Members of the Committee for their work also, saying that this had been a difficult period and they had dealt with matter close to their hearts. He had no doubt about the commitment of everyone in this Committee to addressing issues of vulnerable workers, and appreciated their untiring endeavours to let the country and world know that they were committed to the struggle to ensure that workers' rights equated fully with human rights.

He also thanked Mr Mkalipi and his team from the Department of Labour, especially for the work between the Minister's Office and Parliament, and for highlighting the real and side issues.

He wanted to endorse the thanks proposed by Mr van der Westhuizen to the legal teams from the Office of the Chief State Law Advisers and Parliament. As individuals and citizens of the country, they would be personally affected, but managed to give an objective view about what was happening. He was particularly happy that they were alive to, and gave objective advice, on any errors that Members may inadvertently make.

The Chairperson recorded his thanks also to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, and said that the democracy needed institutions like this to keep Parliament in line. PMG was invaluable in filling gaps in the parliamentary systems or recordings. He also noted his thanks to other observers who were consistently present.

Mr Motau wanted to record his thanks to the way in which the Committee Chairperson had run the meeting.

Mr Kganare quipped that Mr Steve Tshwete had always said that one should not praise a fish for swimming.

 Adoption of Committee Minutes
The Chairperson tabled the Minutes of 5 June 2013. Members voted to adopt the Minutes, with no amendments.

The Minutes of 11 June 2013 were then tabled. Members adopted the Minutes, with no amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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