Department of Labour on 3rd Quarterly 2014/15 performance & challenges raised during Annual Reports

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Labour

25 February 2015
Chairperson: Ms F Loliwe (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The meeting focused on the third quarter report of the Department of Labour, covering both the strategic goals and the budget. The overall performance was far from encouraging, with only a 50% rate of achievement against the strategic goals, while expenditure against the budget was at 79% by the end of 2014.

The Committee was extremely frustrated that the annual targets had been changed in a revised report which had not reached all the Members. Discussion centred on improving labour centres, making sure inspectors were given access to transport and vehicles, increasing the number of inspectors and improving occupational and health standards.

Members commented that discriminatory patterns were still in place at centres for labour, with rural areas lacking the facilities of their urban counterparts. Health and safety standards needed to be rigorously applied, as these issues affected peoples’ lives. They criticised the low inspection rate for compliance with employment equity legislation, pointing out that vulnerable workers needed to be protected. The number of fraud cases that had been identified was also a cause for concern.

A number of reports needed to be compiled and sent back to the Committee, including a board report, a vacancy report and a disciplinary hearing report. The Department was told to work on these and come back with improved results.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the Members and delegates. The only item on the agenda was the presentation from the Department of Labour (DoL) and interrogation thereof.

Department of Labour presentation                                                                                                                                                                                    

Ms Aggy Moiloa, Acting Director General (ADG), DoL, presented the performance indicators. She said branch performance indicators were very good, with some strategic goals having been removed and others added in June 2014. The third quarter report (QPR3) had been aligned with the strategic plan and annual budget of the department. 46 strategic targets had been planned, with 23 achieved and 23 unachieved. This represented a 50% success rate.

The targeted number of work seekers registered on Employment Services of South Africa (ESSA) per year was 187 500, while the actual registration had been 137 270. Ms Moiloa was confident that by the fourth quarter (Q4) they would have achieved this target.

The target for employment counselling was 55 000 employees and the number counselled had been 50 027, with 99 counsellors available. The optimal ratio of counsellors to work seekers should be around 1: 400, but it was currently at 1:3 000. Life skills training had been given by the counsellors, and Ms Moiloa was hoping to automate the assessment tests.

The number of work seekers placed in registered work opportunities per year target was 5 000, and 2 612 had been placed in Q3. Critical data was showing that the informal economy was vital.

The number of vacancies registered with Employment Services of South Africa (ESSA) was achieved. The target was 12 500, and 15 964 had been registered.

The number of work places inspected per year to determine compliance with labour legislation target was 30 137, and the number achieved was 30 365. Of these, 90% were compliant.

The strengthening occupational safety protection target for investigating incidents was 60% and the actual target achieved was only 24% -- a very poor performance by the Department. Ms Moiloa complained that they did not have the necessary resources to achieve this target.

The labour organisation applications processed within 90 days showed a 100% success rate.

Final reports were submitted for three research projects.

The target for fraud campaigns was one for the quarter, but the Department had run three campaigns. The targeted percentage of staff to be trained in line with the workplace skills plan was 61%, and the achieved percentage was 68.3%.

Disciplinary cases resolved within the 90-day target, was 100%, and the Department had achieved 75%.

The Department was focusing on youth and women to strengthen institutional capacity. The target for invoices paid within 30 days is 100%, and the Department had achieved 99.6%.

The targeted number of employers inspected per year, in compliance with employment equity legislation, was 919 but the Department had achieved only 154.

The challenges facing the Department included working under severe financial strain – it was required to do more with less money. The performance of the Department had declined from 63% in Q2 to 51% in Q3, which was disappointing. It had been affected by leave and holiday periods. Discipline had to be enforced and the whip must be cracked for under-performing employees.

DoL financial report

Mr Bheki Maduna, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DoL, said the Department’s expenditure against budget had reached 79% at 31 December, 2014. Compensation of employees had amounted to R752 million, which was R213 million short of the budget, as there were a number of staff vacancies.

Discussion

Ms F Loliwe (ANC) asked about the fraud issue. Why had the target not been 100%?

Ms Moiloa responded that it was futile to go for targets that they could not achieve. The Department evaluated resources to set achievable targets, which was why it was not 100%.

Ms P Mantashe (ANC) asked why it was that 20 years into democracy, the centres for labour still had discriminatory patterns. The centres in the black areas had only one phone for a number of people, while the white and coloured areas had many more. With the turnover of professionals being very high, how was the Department going to attract quality counsellors and workers?

Ms Moiloa responded that the centres were limited by the resources in the area. It was about balancing technology and the local resources. The Department was addressing this pattern, however.

Mr Teboho Thejane, Provincial head of Department of Labour (Western Cape), thought the Member was referring to the Khayelitsha labour centre, where they had staff members allocated to the project and a new building would be provided. In the Nyanga office, staff members had been allocated, including client service officers.

Mr P Moteka (EFF) asked whether compliance with the Health and Safety Act was high enough. The target needed to be 100%, as the country could not be soft on issues that affected peoples’ lives. This issue was still here, even though the Members had brought it up at the last meeting. The presentation had indicated that of workplaces inspected, 6 010 had been non-compliant. Enforcement was the key -- the Department needed more personnel on the ground. Un-unionised workers were vulnerable and needed to be protected. If the Department was serious about transformation, why were rural areas still under-developed?

Ms S van Schalkwayk (ANC) referred to a slide indicating that only 154 employers had been inspected to determine compliance with employment equity legislation against a target of 919. This was a big problem, as challenges identified in Q1 should be focused on and achieved by Q3. Vulnerable workers needed to be protected. The Committee required more detail on vacancies to see how the Department dealt with inspection services.

Ms Moiloa responded that indeed the target achieved was very poor and would be addressed. A report on vacancies would be provided by the Department to the Committee, as would the sustainability of boards and data on outsourced consultants.

Mr D America (DA) stated that the 92% figure for fraud cases received and detected was a concern. In the annual report, the target was 95% -- why the anomaly? What was the cumulative total for the number of inspections and the total for the Q3, and how far off was the department from the annual target? The Committee needed numbers, and not just percentages. Had any internal statistical reports been produced by the Department? The targeted number of fraud prevention awareness campaigns was one, but on the annual target it was four -- why the anomaly? The percentage of vacancy rate target was 11%, but on the annual report it was 10%? What did the Department mean when it referred to a review of ICT strategy? He also asked about the disciplinary action which was meant to be taken against the accounting officer -- where was the Department with this?

Ms Tendani Ramulongo, Director of Research, DoL, stated that the discrepancy between the annual report and Q3 was due to a revised annual report, hence the anomaly. The Department had produced three labour reports.

Mr Sagren Govender, Public Employment Services (PES), DoL stated that the boards of the Department had been established for sustainability. A board report would be provided for the Committee.

Ms Phelele Tengeni, DDG, Corporate Services, stated that the Department had bursaries for employees and a mentorship programme. It had been working closely with career counsellors and inspectors to make sure they had support and clear guidelines. The Department did need an organisational review to make sure structures were aligned correctly. A vacancy report would be provided to the Committee. A revised annual performance report had been tabled and sent out which had the fraud target of 92%, and this was where all the anomalies had come from, as a number of targets had been changed. The campaign target was one per quarter, with an annual target of four. The Department had run three campaigns in Q3, hence the successful comments. All the other discrepancies also revolved around the quarter target versus the annual target. A new service provider, Dimension Data, had been employed in respect of ICT for the Department. This had been done to the book, involving the State Information Technology Agency (SITA). The Minister of Labour had approved the new framework for the Department. On the accounting officer issue, disciplinary procedures lay with the immediate supervisor, and they did not have information on this issue currently.

Mr America commented that the Committee did not have a copy of the revised annual report, which needed to come to the Committee prior to being approved. On the disciplinary issue, the matter had been brought to the Committee before, so why was it being raised again?

Mr Moteka said that the Committee needed to know what was happening with the accounting officer, as they had to know why the public was being defrauded.

Ms Moiloa responded that the Department would report back to the Committee on the disciplinary issue.

Ms Mantashe said that the Department needed to deliver results -- they could not be planning forever. She asked whether the inspectors were doing a good job.

Ms Van Schalkwayk asked why the Department was not making use of subsidies for vehicles.

Mr Maduna said that a number of vehicles had been purchased in the year for inspectors and licences had been paid for. This was why there was a negative amount under provincial and local governments. It was a short-sighted budget. The Department of Transport provided 70% support for vehicles, but 30% needed to be provided by individuals, many of whom did not qualify. Others wanted expensive cars, which led to a low uptake of the subsidy. The Department was making sure that it stayed within the budget going forward.

Mr Tibor Szana, Director: Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) said IES had been required to hand several million rand back to Treasury, which had been a difficult process. Funds received had been for compensation of employees, and not for goods and services. More people were required by the Department, but now the “pie” needed to be divided even further. The IES case management system was currently manual, which had led to errors. An online system was being developed. There were still vacancies outstanding, but there was currently a moratorium on jobs due to the funding being withdrawn. The availability of cars was a problem, as cars were often shared at labour centres. The managerial aspects were being dealt with, while the Treasury issue was out of their control. The pupil inspection programme was running, providing funds for occupational health and safety, including a bursary and a stipend. The Department did not have a system to track repeat offenders properly, but it was looking at implementing one. Employment equity was being addressed, and inspectors were being brought up to higher salary levels with increased responsibilities. They wanted inspectors to apply with a qualification, and not just a matric, going forward.

The Chairperson thanked the Department, and stated that the Committee wanted to see 99.9% of targets achieved, and not only half of the issues dealt. The Department needed to improve.

The meeting was adjourned.

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