Department of Labour Strategic Plan & Annual Performance Plan 2014/15

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Labour

11 March 2015
Chairperson: Ms L Yengeni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Labour met to consider the Budgetary Review and Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan 2015 – 2016 of the Department of Labour.

The Committee Secretary reminded Members of the issue of the demographics that must be taken into account for oversight functions for implementation of the legislation. The Legal Adviser spoke to the issue.

The Committee Legal Advisor, Adv Anthea Gordon, noted that the issue at hand arose as a result of the Committee’s Strategic Plan and particularly under bullet 5 strategic goals - bullet 3 which read “to monitor the implementation of employment legislation to ensure inter alia that the workplace is reflected at the demographics of the country.” In terms of the Employment Equity Act, Section 42 indicated that both National and Regional demographics should be taken into account for the purpose of employment equity. When a related issue was brought before the court by the Department of Correctional Services Employment Equity Plan that argued that because it is a National Department their demographics should only profile the national status, the court ruled that was incorrect because the DCS is bound by Section 42 of the Employment Equity Act and must therefore consider both national and regional demographics for the purpose of employment equity or for furthering affirmative action measures. The DCS employment plan was therefore set aside on the basis that it was invalid for compliance with legislation. Therefore, on the issue before the Committee on what demographics the Committee should take into account for the purpose of exercising its oversight functions, Section 42 of the Employment Equity Act that refers to both national and regional demographics binds the Committee.

The Chairperson was pleased with the reply of the Legal Adviser. The Legal Adviser would be recalled when the matter was being reconsidered by the Committee.

The Chairperson congratulated the new Director General of the Department of Labour, Mr Thobile Lamati, on his recent appointment as the DG; it was the first time he attended in this new capacity.

The Director General presented a summary of the DoL Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020, the DoL Programmes and Entities, the DoL focus in the MTSF from 2014 – 2019, the Annual Performance Plan for the Financial year 2015/16 and the way forward was presented by the Director General to the Committee

The DoL Strategic Plan was a five year plan which took into cognisance the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 and the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2014 – 19. Amongst the six pillars of the NDP, the DoL’s Strategic Plan was specifically aligned to:

  • Growing an inclusive economy building capacity
  • Promoting sound labour relations
  • Contributing to decent employment
  • Promoting equity in the labour market and
  • Monitoring the impact of legislation

Regarding the MTSF, the DoL focused on Outcomes 4, 5, 11, 12 and 14. The Department developed a one-year plan (APP), which was based on the Strategic Plan. The APP strategically concentrated on the annual performance in an attempt to reach the five-year objectives of the Strategic Plan.  The entities established in terms of various legislations and cabinet decisions to assist DOL in meeting its mandate included:

  • Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)
  • National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC)
  • Productivity South Africa
  • Protected Employment Enterprises

In the Medium term, the DOL would contribute mainly on the following outcomes:

  • Outcome 4: Decent employment through inclusive economic growth.
  • Outcome 4: A skilled and capable workforce to support and inclusive growth path.
  • Outcome 11: Create a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world.
  • Outcome 12: An efficient, effective and development orientated Public Service.
  • Outcome 14: Transforming society and uniting the country.

The Financial allocation for the APP in the 2015/16 financial year was itemised. The entire vote for the APP being R2 686 867 with Compensation being 62.38%, which is R1 079 555, Goods & Services was 34.91%, which is R604 239 and Capital Payments was R2.71%, which is R 46 857

Most Members commended the report presented by the Department. A member mentioned that he received several queries almost on a daily basis from people, both South African citizens and foreigners, who the Department had refused to assist regarding their compensation benefits. These people reported never receiving answers from the Department.  He had over 300 workman compensation queries in his office that went back over a decade of people also had not received answers. He had himself written to the Department to no avail. Most Members raised concerns as to whether the introduction of the Sectoral Determinations would interfere with the equal work, equal pay. Another member was very passionate about communicating to the Department the effect that the reduction in the number of Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors would have on the country. Late last year, the Committee held a workshop where the Department and some of its entities assured the Committee that something was being done to increase the number of inspectors especially inspectors with specific skills. It is obvious however now in March that instead of the number of inspectors increasing, it is reducing, and a reflection that whatever plan was introduced is not working. If more than a third of the OHS inspectors have left between the beginning of the financial year and February, then if could be assumed that there is something wrong in that inspectorate pushing the people out. It could be that the working conditions are not good, or perhaps there is better pay elsewhere, or maybe infighting, but there must be something wrong. He demanded an explanation from the Department as to what the problem was. It is important to provide a conducive and safe environment for workers; once an individual was dead or injured, it was beyond repair.      

A Member expressed concern that the target set for the Inclusive Economic Growth by the Department was too high to achieve.

On the introduction of Sectoral Determinations and its assumed interference with equal value - equal pay, Mr Lamati said any introduction of Sectoral Determinations had to be viewed in line with the mandate of the Department that seeks to protect the rights of vulnerable workers. Currently, there were ongoing discussions on the National Minimum Wage and as discussions are concluded a number of things would get clearer, for instance what impact the minimum wage would have on Sectoral Determinations. He assumed the change would be minimal but whether it would have an impact on equal pay for work of equal value at this stage is not yet known.

The Deputy Director General, Inspection and Enforcement Services for the Department, explained that the reduction in target was informed by a number of things two of which were the number of available inspectors and the strength of economic activity in the area of inspection. He added that at the beginning of the current financial year, the Department had 131 Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors, by February, the number of the Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors had dropped to 81 and currently the Department has 97 Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors. Furthermore, the proportion of Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors to companies for developing countries with the same economic realities as South Africa is 1 inspector to 20 000 workplaces and that would be like 837 Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors alone. This figure was not feasible because of limited resources. He doubted whether there was any country in the world that had enough inspectors for the concerns that needed to be addressed. 

The Chairperson said Parliament was not happy with the state of inspectors at the Department. It was aware that Treasury withdrew money but there was a reason for this withdrawal. The Department left the money in question unutilised for a long time. The Committee could assist to get the money back but the Department must have a clear plan of how to effectively utilise the funds once it has been restored.

The Chairperson proposed that the Department must present to the Committee a workable long and short-term plan on how to execute the funds that would be reinstated by the Treasury or the Committee would not support its reinstatement. She proposed that the DOL come back to present their submissions on all concerns raised to the Committee after the Members resume back from recess; the submissions to be accompanied by the official in charge of DOL’s activities in the National Treasury.    

Mr Sam Morotoba, Deputy Director General: Public Employment Services, Department of Labour, responding on concerns raised about legal migrant workers that were not accessing their UIF benefits, said labour laws in SA applied to all workers within the borders of the RSA, which unfortunately included legal and illegal migrants. The Public Employment Services and the Inspection and Enforcement Services gave some assistance to the Department of Home Affairs in the granting of corporate and individual visas. The Department makes sure that the people that are granted corporate visas or individual work visas were subjected to standards that are similar to that of South Africans and it also scans for local skills and where these skills were unavailable, mechanisms are put in place for foreigners to transfer these specific skills to the local people to avoid endless extensions of those permits. However with reference to the specific issues raised by a Member, the Member could furnish the Department with the information and the Department would then report back to the Committee on it. The target set around Inclusive Economic Growth was very ambitious, but the target was not limited to the Department, it is a national target which all departments both at national, provincial and local level have to contribute to. The Department’s target has to do with those things that it could achieve within the confines of its resources. The DG promised to give the member his own details and his PA details for him to send the information to.

On budgetary related questions, Mr Bheki Maduna, Chief Financial Officer, for the Department indicated that the money that National Treasury had taken from the Department would be returned to the Department, not in the 2105/16 financial year but in the 2106/17 financial year. However, in the baseline reductions in the same year, it also indicated that the Department would have a budget cut of R25 million in the 2106/17 and R27 million in the 2107/18 financial years. This indicated that in Inspection Enforcement Services, they would have money for inspectors, but the Department would have to make the cuts from other entities. 

A consensus was reached after much deliberation by the members on the Committee’s Strategic Goals, bullet 3 which originally read, “to monitor the implementation of employment legislation to ensure inter alia that the workplace reflects the demographics of the country” to be changed to read - “to monitor the implementation of employment legislation to ensure inter alia that the workplace reflects the demographics as per the legislation.” There was no further need to recall the Legal Adviser.

The Committee received correspondence from a Member regarding a special NEDLAC report that had been unattended to for a long time. The Chairperson requested that the member brief the other Members on the issues that led to his letter to the Committee. The issue would be discussed today so that all the members could be on the same page regarding what prompted the letter. She emphasised that the media was not the official spokesperson for the Committee and could not be relied upon to give the authentic information as regards the issue. The Member reminded Members that during the course of the previous year, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) presented to the Committee, and he asked the head of NEDLAC to proffer some answers about the special NEDLAC report.  However, the head of NEDLAC was unwilling to give any details regarding the report, and the Minister when asked for the same information, declined saying she was busy with processes. The Chairperson of this Committee also declined summoning the Minister to give the same report and answer the questions concerning the matter. It was at this point that the Member sent an official letter to NEDLAC requesting the report. He was finally given the report after a while. It is evident after going through the report, that serious allegations were made against two people that were previously employed at NEDLAC - one of the two had resigned and the other had been moved to the Minister’s office. It was at this instance that he took a step to write to the Chairperson that the issues must be dealt with and the Minister summoned with any other official necessary to respond to the salient issues. It is pertinent as Members of Parliament to seek to know the truth as to whether the information in the report was correct or not. The Auditor General report that was tabled last year also referred to problems in NEDLACs finances but did not give details and these details should be interrogated. The previous CEO of NEDLAC had also resigned so there was no one currently who had been there long enough to know what actually happened, and why the Minister would be in the best position to answer the questions.

There was a consensual proposition by the other Members that having understood the background information contained in the letter, other members should be given a fair opportunity of going through the NEDLAC report to gain an understanding of what was in the report so that the Committee could discuss the report and a logical conclusion.

The Chairperson conceded that she should have called NEDLAC to report to the Committee on the issue. However, her first point of call was not the Minister, she must first contact everyone responsible for the issue in order to equip her with the necessary information before the Minister would be summoned, if necessary. If there were issues raised in the NEDLAC report, NEDLAC would be summoned to come and give answers to the queries before the end of April. NEDLAC would brief the Committee on what transpired that led to the report. It is important that the Committee make its decisions based on facts and not on the information disseminated by the media. The Member wondered why it took so long for the Committee to respond to the queries he raised regarding NEDLAC despite the fact that they had been aware of it for about a year. Currently, there is another leadership team at NEDLAC, which is the third leadership since the matter arose. A new DG had also been appointed at DOL. The only person that was still around when the action was taken is the Minister, which was why the Minister would be in the best position to answer the queries.

The Chairperson said there was no way that such a report commissioned by NEDLAC would still not have the information and constituents of the people still available in the organisation. Since the Minister did not work in a vacuum, she was confident that the people involved were still there and the constituents of NEDLAC would be summoned to answer the issues raised by the Committee. There were processes that had to be followed. The Committee would not join the media business of destroying other people’s characters and careers because of hearsay. 

Meeting report

Ms T Tongwane observed that there was an additional item on the agenda, which was the discussion of Mr Ollis’ correspondence to the Committee. She proposed that the discussion should be done after the presentation and engagement with the Department.

Mr Sakasa reminded the members that the priority item on last week’s meeting was the Strategic Plan of the Committee, which had been fully sorted out. The legal personnel present at the meeting would deal with the other issue that was not yet fully dealt with.

The Chairperson proposed that as the Legal Advisor would have to attend another Committee, she should be allowed to give her comments on the issue at hand which was - what were the demographics that must be taken into account for oversight functions of the implementation of the legislation. 
Adv Gordon said the issue at hand arose as a result of the Committee’s Strategic Plan and particularly under bullet 5 strategic goals - bullet 3, which read “to monitor the implementation of employment legislation to ensure inter alia that the workplace reflects the demographics of the country.” The question was what demographics must be taken into account for that oversight function of the implementation of the legislation. In terms of the Employment Equity Act, Section 42 indicates that both National and Regional demographics should be taken into account for the purpose of employment equity. She read Section 42 Sub A which states “In determining whether a designated employer is implementing employment equity in compliance with this act, the Director General or any person or body applying this act may, in addition to the factors stated in section 15, take the following into account: A. the extent to which suitably qualified people from and amongst the different designated groups, and equitably represented within each occupational level in that employee’s workplace is in relation to the demographic profile of the National and Regional economically active population.” She confirmed that such issue had been previously brought before the court where the Department of Correctional Services Employment Equity Plan focused on National demographics only and argued that because it is a National Department, their demographics should only profile the national status. The court ruled that it was incorrect because the DCS is bound by Section 42 of the Employment Equity Act and must therefore consider both national and regional demographics for the purpose of employment equity or for furthering affirmative action measures. The DCS employment plan was therefore set aside on the basis that it was invalid for compliance with legislation. Therefore, on the issue before the Committee on what demographics the Committee should take into account for the purpose of exercising its oversight functions, Section 42 of the Employment Equity Act that refers to both national and regional demographics binds the Committee.

The Chairperson was pleased with the reply of the Legal Adviser. She excused the Legal Adviser and concluded that the issue would be discussed later in the meeting and that she would not allow for any questions from the members regarding this.

Mr Bagraim interrupted the Chairperson and wanted to know why the issue could not be discussed here and now while the Legal Adviser was present, it was unrealistic to discuss it when she was unavailable.

The Chairperson insisted that the Legal Advisor would be recalled later when the matter was being reconsidered; the matter would not be concluded without the Legal Adviser.

She congratulated the new Director General of the Department of Labour, Mr Thobile Lamati, on his new appointment as the DG. He was not new to the Committee but this was his first time he attended as the DG of DOL. She assured him that he would be supported in every way possible and hoped that the working relationship would be cordial.

Department of Labour – Annual Performance Plan 2015 - 2016

The DG introduced the delegation from the Department of Labour.

Mr Lamati presented the summary of the DoL Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020, the DoL Programmes and Entities, the DoL focus in the MTSF from 2014 – 2019, the Annual Performance Plan for the Financial year 2015/16 and the way forward.

The DoL Strategic Plan was a five year plan which took into cognisance the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 and the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2014 – 19. Amongst the six pillars of the NDP, the DoL’s Strategic Plan was specifically aligned to: growing an inclusive economy, building capacities, promoting sound labour relations, contributing to decent employment, promoting equity in the labour market and monitoring the impact of legislation. With regards to the MTSF, the DoL focused on Outcomes 4, 5, 11, 12 and 14. The Department developed a one-year plan (APP) based on the Strategic Plan. The APP strategically concentrated on the annual performance in an attempt to reach the five-year objectives of the Strategic Plan.  The DoL programmes and entities are:

  • Administration
  • Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES),
  • Public Employment Services (PES),
  • Labour Market Policy & Industrial Relations,
  • Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and
  • Compensation Fund (CF).

The entities established in terms of various legislations and cabinet decisions to assist DOL in meeting its mandate included:

  • Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)
  • National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC)
  • Productivity South Africa
  • Protected Employment Enterprises

In the Medium term, DOL would contribute mainly on the following outcomes:

  • Outcome 4: Decent employment through inclusive economic growth.
  • Outcome 4: A skilled and capable workforce to support and inclusive growth path.
  • Outcome 11: Create a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world.
  • Outcome 12: An efficient, effective and development orientated Public Service.
  • Outcome 14: Transforming society and uniting the country.

The Government Service Delivery Outcomes and the Department of Labour Strategic Goals were further listed in the presentation.  The Annual Performance Plan for the financial year 2015/16, the Performance Indicators and Targets for Administration, IES, PES and the Labour Market Policy & Industrial Relations were enumerated in the presentation.

The Financial allocation for the APP in the 2015/16 financial year was itemised. The entire vote for the APP being R2 686 867 with Compensation being 62.38%  (R1 079 555), Goods & Services was 34.91%  (R604 239), and Capital Payments was R2.71% (R46 857).

The Department recommended that the Portfolio Committee take note of their Annual Performance Plan as the way forward.

Discussion

Mr Bagraim likewise commended the report by the Department. He had received reports almost on a daily basis of UIF queries by foreigners who had legal permits to work but were denied UIF benefits. These people have reported not receiving answers from the Department when they applied. He also has over 300 workman compensation queries on his office that went back over a decade of people who had not received answers. He had himself had written to the Department, to no avail. He commended the Commission for Conciliation Mediation Arbitration (CCMA) on their excellence performance, however the same good story could not be said of Workmen compensation. He commended the Department on the scheduled seminars and hoped that would go a long way in educating employers of their responsibilities. He proposed that invites could be sent to the Committee to attend some of the seminars, as he was interested in attending. He assumed that the introduction of the Sectoral Determinations would interfere largely with the equal work, equal pay.  He urged that the Minister have a relook at all the Sectoral Determinations so that the determinations could be married with the new legislations, as queries have been flooding into his office in that regard as well.

Mr I Ollis (DA) welcomed the new DG and the new Chief of Staff, Ministry of Labour, Mr Greg Schneemann. His first point of concern was regarding the Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors. Based on the DG’s report, the target for inspections had dropped from 56 000 to 20 476. The reason was that there were not enough health inspectors. What could be done to increase the number of OHS inspectors? The target for inspections would not go up until the target for appointment of staff goes up. This should be of great concern for DOL and the Committee as the reduction was about a third of the total figure of the OHS inspectors; once an individual was dead or injured, it was beyond repair.        

Ms F Loliwe (ANC) ventured that at the last presentation of the Department, the Committee advised that the target set for the Inclusive Economic Growth by DOL was too high to achieve. Subsequent action was not reflected in the report and she was therefore not sure whether the concept was still ongoing. The outlined budget split was another concern as the Department had indicated that 34% only would be charged to other programmes. What then would be the impact of this on the appointment of inspectors?

Ms Van Schalkwyk commended the Department on the introduction of Sectoral Determination of the more vulnerable sections such as abattoirs. It was encouraging that the scope of Sectoral Determination was being extended. The percentage of non-complying workplaces inspected in terms of relevant labour legislation was high and underperformance had been noted in this area. How realistic was this target compared to the current state of affairs of previous quarters of this financial year and also the drastically reducing of the number of workplace inspectors especially with the high number of repeated offenders. Would that not increase the number of non-complying employees?

Mr Lamati responded to the issue of the budget. The financial outlook of the country was very bad. During the 2104/15 financial year the DOL went to National Treasury “Cap in hand” to seek assistance for the Department, and Treasury gave some money to be used for Inspection and Enforcement Services. The battle is still ongoing because as the budget goes down, the services of the DOL as a response also go down.  This was unfortunate because the Department is incapacitated by limited resources and over 7 000 employees are committed to serving the cause of the Department. On the introduction of Sectoral Determinations and its assumed interference with equal value - equal pay, any introduction of Sectoral Determinations had to be viewed in line with the mandate of the Department that seeks to protect the rights of vulnerable workers. Currently, there are discussions on the National Minimum Wage and as discussions are concluded on the minimum wage, a number of things would get clearer, for instance what impact the minimum wage would have on Sectoral Determinations. The DOL assumes that the change would be minimal but whether it would have an impact on equal pay for work of equal value at this stage is not yet known. At this stage DOL may not have conclusive answers to concerns raised by members but would report back to the Committee as soon as it had the answers. It is in the Minister’s plan to review the minimum Sectoral Determination and to align it with the new amendments.

Mr Virgil Seafield, the DDG, Inspection and Enforcement Services, DOL explained that the reduction in target was informed by a number of things, two of which were the number of available inspectors and the strength of economic activity in the area of inspection. In an area such as Kimberley for instance, to effectively inspect, DOL would take into cognisance the economic activities in Kimberley, the number of workplaces that must be inspected, the number of inspectors available and so on. The design of inspection would therefore be put into consideration. In the current financial year, the DOL did not achieve the target, but the intention was to deal with hundred percent of the non-complying companies. He could not give an actual figure of non-complying companies as no one would know from the onset which company would not comply. He added that at the beginning of the current financial year, DOL had 131 OHS inspectors, by February, the number of the OHS inspectors had dropped to 81 and currently DOL has 97 OHS inspectors. It was the intention of DOL is to address realities, some of which were what is needed in terms of inspections as a country and how can the inspectorate be improved. The proportion of OHS inspectors to companies for developing countries with the same economic realities as South Africa is 1 inspector to 20 000 workplaces, and that would be like 837 OHS inspectors alone, which is not feasible because of limited resources. The APP report amongst other things addressed how DOL could increase its footprints.  The Voluntary Protection Programme was also proposed, suggesting how companies could automatically comply without OHS inspectors monitoring them. There was no way that South Africa could have enough inspectors; he was sure that there is no country in the world that has enough inspectors for the concerns that needed to be addressed. 

The Chairperson sought for clarifications on the issue of inspections. How does DOL divide the inspectors uniformly around the country? Are the inspectors located in certain regions? If the number of  non-complying companies was unknown, how does DOL allocate the available resources for maximum effectiveness?                    

The DG replied that the economic activities in a specific area are used to consider the allocation of inspectors. The number of companies, type of companies was essential, as this would indicate the type of competencies needed. The DOL also engages in split inspections, for example in a given area, DOL would identify the peculiar skills needed and it would go with maybe 20 inspectors and comb out the whole area. That is one avenue that DOL had been effectively maximising the limited resources it has.

Mr Seafied said that the level of compliance of a company could only be determined when on an inspection visit. There are two types of inspections, namely reactive and proactive inspection. Reactive inspection is when a complaint is received, IES then takes a look at the areas where most complaints had been made from and then these areas are targeted for inspections.

The Chairperson said she was eagerly looking forward to a time when inspectors would liaise and reinforce each other such that even when inspectors visit companies they know what to look for even when not skilled in that particular area. She asked the DOL to present a report to the Committee that would reveal how many inspectors the DOL has and where they were stationed, the resources available and why a particular number of inspectors is being deployed to a particular area. Parliament is not happy with the state of inspectors at the DOL.  It is understood that Treasury withdrew some money but there was a reason for this; money allocated to DOL was left unutilised for a long time. The Committee could assist to get the money back but DOL must have a clear plan of how to effectively utilise the funds once it has been restored.

Mr Ollis added that Treasury had given some assurances that if DOL could have a plan and employ more people, they could reinstate some of the money; Treasury would not release the money if it would not be utilised. He expressed unhappiness about the drop in the number of inspectors. Late last year, the Committee held a workshop where the Department and some of its entities in their presentations assured the Committee that something was being done to increase the number of inspectors, especially inspectors with specific skills. Now in March, it is obvious that instead of the number of inspectors increasing, it is reducing; a reflection that whatever plan DOL had in place is not working. If more than a third of the OHS inspectors have left between the beginning of the financial year and February, then there is something wrong in that inspectorate that is pushing people out. It could be that the working conditions are not good, or perhaps there is a better pay elsewhere, or maybe there is infighting but obviously there must be something wrong. Could the Department explain what exactly went wrong? Creating a conducive safe environment for workers is the most important thing that the Committee and the Department could do for workers.

The Chairperson asked whether there was anyone attached to DOL in the Treasury that oversees its activities. She proposed that official must be informed to come and appear before the Committee as well. She emphasised that the DG must present to the Committee a workable long and short-term plan on how to execute the funds that would be reinstated by the Treasury or else the Committee would not support its reinstatement. She proposed that DOL come back to present their submissions on all the concerns raised to the Committee after the members resume back from recess; to be accompanied by the person in charge of DOL’s activities in the National Treasury.    

The DG was pleased with the propositions of the Chairperson.    

Mr Sam Morotoba, the DDG Public Employment Services, Department of Labour, responding on the concerns raised about legal migrant workers that were not accessing their UIF benefits, said that labour laws in SA applied to all workers within the borders of the RSA, unfortunately including the legal and illegal migrants. However, the PES and the IES gave some assistance to the Department of Home Affairs in the granting of corporate and individual visas. DOL makes sure that the people that are granted corporate visas or individual work visas were subjected to standards that are similar to that of South Africans and also to scan for local skills and where these skills were unavailable, mechanisms are put in place for the foreigners to transfer these specific skills to the local people so as to avoid endless extensions of those permits. With reference to the specific issues raised by Mr Bagraim, if those people were complying, they should like anybody whose contact expired, resigned or was retrenched, but he added that if the member could furnish the Department with the information, DOL would report back to the Committee on. He agreed with Ms Loliwe that the target set around Inclusive Economic Growth was very ambitious, but that the target was not limited to DOL. It is a national target which all departments both at national, provincial and local level have to contribute to. In setting the Department’s target, the leadership of DOL is sensitive to that target and is bound to play its own role in contributing to the inclusive growth and employment. The Department’s target has to do with those things that DOL could achieve within the confines of its resources. No one was intended to solve the entire country’s problem.

The DG said it would be helpful to get the mentioned queries on the Compensation fund from Mr Bagraim because currently everything was being done to ensure that all Compensation Fund related queries were dealt with. He was confident that in due course, the interventions that had been put in place would yield positive results.

The Chairperson asked Mr Bagraim whether the queries in his office were people that just came to him or people that were frustrated having gone from one office to the other and did not receive assistance? She emphasised that people must be directed to where they could get help.

Mr Bagraim replied that many of the queries in his office were people that had been communicating with the Department for an excess of ten years. Many of them had been communicating with the Department and were not getting any responses or adequate responses. He reiterated that he himself had submitted the documents of these people to the Department but no acknowledgement was received If an email or contact address could be given to him, he would send the documents again. He emphasised that it would be appreciated if a confirmation that it had been received were sent to him. The country was in dire straits as it does not assist people who are injured at work.

The Chairperson asked whether these people in question were foreigners or South African citizens.

Mr Bagraim responded that the foreigners were migrants that have legal permits to work but still were not assisted with regard to their UIF because they were told that they do not have South African IDs. He said that he had not sent any of these queries to the Department but that he would send them in now after being given an authentic address to send them to.

The Chairperson proposed to the DG to make a follow-up of the concerns raised. It is true that his office inherited these issues but he has to follow them up. Someone must be assigned to dealing with correspondences and queries promptly attended to. Not all queries should be attended to by the DG, but only those queries that had gone through all the necessary channels yet did not receive attention. The right channels must still be communicated to the people and after these channels had been exhausted, with no help in view, then it could be attended to by the DG.

The DG promised to give the member his own details and his PA details for him to send the information to.

On budgetary related questions, Mr Bheki Maduha, Chief Financial Officer for the Department, indicated that the presentation showed that the money that the National Treasury had taken from the Department would be returned to the Department but not in the 2105/16 financial year; in the 2106/17 financial year. In the baseline reductions in the same year, it also indicated that DOL would have a budget cut of R25 million in the 2106/17 and R27 million in the 2107/18 financial years. This indicated that in IES, they would have money for inspectors, but DOL would have to make the cuts from other entities. 

The DG proposed that the Department would present its plan on how it would utilise its money in the 2105/16 financial year at the next presentation to the Committee. He thanked Committee Members for their assistance so far and hoped that subsequently, the Committee and the Department would work even better together to achieve their intended aim. The Department would attempt to deal with all the challenges raised though it may be a slow process.  

The Chairperson thanked the DG and his team. They must be proactive in dealing with all the issues raised. The Department was excused from the meeting.                                                                                                                                         

The meeting was adjourned for a 5minute break.

The Chairperson asked members when the Legal Advisor should be recalled so as to clarify the issues raised on the demographics.

Mr Ollis clarified that the Legal Advisor may not need to be recalled if the DA accepted the explanations she gave concerning the issue.

The Chairperson appreciated the gesture by Mr Ollis. She asked if the DA was okay with the inclusion inserted into the statement. She asked the Committee’s Content Advisor to read out the line in question.

The Content Adviser, Mr Ngcobo read the Committee’s Strategic Goals, bullet 3. Originally it read, “to monitor the implementation of employment legislation to ensure inter alia that the workplace reflects the demographics of the country.” The proposed insertion would then be “to reflect the relevant demographics of the country.”

The Chairperson added the additional proposal that was made and that was to insert the word “as per legislation.” This proposal was because the members could not come to an agreement on the initial insertion to the statement. She asked the members which of the proposals was the preferred one.

Mr Ollis stated that they were pleased with the wording in the legislation. However, the reason why queries were raised on the statement was because the issue had been taken to court. He wanted to clarify whether the words were the direct words used in the legislation or it was an interpretation of the court. Does the legislation clearly state National and Regional or was it just implied. He confirmed his agreement with the legal opinion.

Ms Loliwe confirmed that what the Committee discussed last week was to insert – as per legislation and the Legal Adviser had just assisted the Committee to find out the relevant legislation.

Mr Ollis reiterated that he agreed with Section 42 of the Employment Equity Act as the way it should be implemented.

The Content Advisor was asked to reread the statement as agreed to by the Committee. He read “to monitor the implementation of employment legislation to ensure inter alia that the workplace reflects the demographics of the country as per legislation.”

Mr Bagraim further proposed that “the country” could be removed as it still signified that it was only on a national basis. 

Ms Van Schalkwyk confirmed that she supported the stance of Mr Bagraim and the removal of “the country” from the statement.   

The Chairperson therefore proposed that “the country” should be removed and the statement should read - “to monitor the implementation of employment legislation to ensure inter alia that the workplace reflects the demographics as per the legislation.”

The Chairperson on the last issue of the agenda, recounted her experience the previous week of how she was embarrassed by a journalist from Sunday Times as she was coming into the Committee room for the meeting. The Journalist asked her whether she had received the letter and would summon the Minister. She said that there was no way she could give a response because the Committee had previously discussed the issue. It would be irresponsible of her to give a response that had never been discussed. She therefore termed it appropriate to raise it today at the meeting. Mr Ollis’s desire to get answers on the matter as a Member of the committee was fair enough. She could not summon the Minister on hearsay and on an issue that had not been previously discussed as a Committee. The issue would be discussed today so that all Members can be on the same page regarding what prompted the letter. She emphasised that the media was not the official spokesperson for the Committee and could not be relied upon to give the authentic information regarding the issue. The media could not be trusted as they majored in character assassination. She requested that Mr Ollis explain to the members what had transpired previously so that Members could have a clear understanding of the issues at hand.

Mr Ollis explained the issues that led to the correspondence he wrote to the Committee. He reminded  Members that during the course of the previous year, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC presented to the Committee, and he asked the head of NEDLAC to proffer some answers about the special NEDLAC report. It was obvious at the meeting that the head was not willing to give any details regarding the report. He then asked the Minister to provide a written report to the Committee on the issue to which she declined saying she was busy with processes. After a while, he wrote to the Chairperson of this Committee and proposed that the Minister be summoned to the Committee to give a report and answer questions concerning the matter, to which the Chairperson declined but not in writing that she would not summon the Minister but would summon NEDLAC and hear what they had to say about the issue. NEDLAC came back to the Committee to present their report on the Medium Term Budget. He asked them again for the content of the special report and what the allegations made in the report were. Again the leader of the team was not ready to disclose the content of the report or the names mentioned in the report. It was at this point that he sent an official letter to NEDLAC requesting the report. He was finally given the report after a long time and after legal advice. After reading the report, it was obvious that serious allegations were made against two people that were employed at NEDLAC, of which one of them had resigned and the other had been moved to the Minister’s office. It was at this instance that he took a step to write to the Chairperson that the issues must be dealt and the Minister summoned with any other official necessary to respond to the salient issues. He is aware that the Chairperson now has a copy of the report. It is pertinent as members of Parliament to seek to know the truth as to whether the information in the report was correct or not. The Auditor General report that was tabled last year also referred to problems in NEDLAC’s finances but did not give the details and these details should be interrogated. The previous CEO of NEDLAC has also resigned so there is currently no one that had been there long enough to know what actually happened that is why the Minister would be in the best position to answer the questions.

The Chairperson clarified that she had not received any report from NEDLAC regarding the issue mentioned by Mr Ollis.

Ms Loliwe said based on the background information that had just been received from Mr Ollis as to what triggered him to write the letter, it was obvious that he had done some background work. She proposed that it would be fair enough if all the other members were given the same opportunity to go through NEDLACs report and gain an understanding of what was in the report so that as a Committee the report could be discussed and logical conclusion reached.

Ms Van Schalkwyk and Ms Tongwane agreed with the proposal of Ms Loliwe. All the members must consider the report and then it would be discussed.  

The Chairperson welcomed the proposal made by the members. She asked Mr Ollis how he came by the report. Were any conditions attached to it?

Mr Ollis responded that he was given the report after he made formal application to NEDLAC under the PIA Act to receive a copy of the document that was denied to him by the Minster. It was a formal legal document that went to the acting CEO of NEDLAC. He was instructed to pay a required fee according to the Act, which he paid, and he was requested to personally pick up the report. He received the report with a letter from the acting CEO that some of the information in the report was opinions from different individuals that had been contested. He received the report about 2weeks ago from NEDLAC. He wanted to know why it was taking so long for the Committee to deal with the report? It has been a full year and the reply from the Minister had been sent to all the members of the Parliament but not to him, and in the reply, the Minister did not give any answers to the questions raised. He was therefore certain that this was not the first time that the Committee had heard about the matter; it had been a whole year.

Ms Loliwe confirmed that the reply by the Minister was received by all the members, however, since it was now being discussed officially by the Committee, let all the members be given an opportunity to also thoroughly peruse the report and then a decision could be reached as a Committee. 

The Chairperson conceded that the mistake she made was not to have called NEDLAC before now to come and give a report to the Committee on the issue. Her first point of call was not the Minister; she must first and foremost contact everyone responsible for the issue. This would equip her with the necessary information before the Minister is summoned. She assured Mr Ollis that if indeed there were issues that were raised in the NEDLAC report, NEDLAC would be summoned to come and give answers to the queries before the end of April. NEDLAC would brief the Committee on what transpired that led to the report. It is important that the Committee make its decisions based on facts and not on the information disseminated by the media. She appreciated Mr Ollis for calling the attention of the Committee to the issue at this time but currently, members did not know anything about the report so NEDLAC and DOL would be summoned to give the Committee an understanding as to what happened. It was highly outrageous as to how the media twisted facts and published untrue stories. She noted that it was after the media had published whatever they wanted that they then asked her to make comments. She particularly emphasised to the Journalist from the Sunday Times seated in the meeting that until the real facts were known, she did not have anything to say on the matter. She did not know and was not interested in knowing where they got their information. She stressed that the Committee would not be a party to the Medias’ agenda of politically castrating the Minister without having the facts.

Mr Ollis appreciated her response; it was quite acceptable. However, this was the third time of bringing this information up in the Committee, and the previous time that NEDLAC came and answered questions the answers given were inadequate. At that time he asked whether the Minister could be summoned and the Chairperson declined, now there is another leadership team at NEDLAC and was the third leadership since the matter arose, a new DG had also been appointed at DOL. The only person that is still around when the action was taken is the Minister and that is why he had repeatedly asked that the Minister be called in.

The Chairperson replied that there was no way that such a report commissioned by NEDLAC would still not have the information and constituents of the people still available. The Minister does not work in a vacuum. The Minister works through the Department therefore she was confident that the people involved were still there and the constituents of NEDLAC would be summoned to answer the issues raised by the Committee. Furthermore, there are processes that must be followed. The Minister could then be summoned after these processes have been followed. She added that people do not leave organisations with information; they are handed over to the next set of leaders. Therefore, this information cannot be with the Minister alone and no one else. The Committee would not join the business of destroying other people’s characters and careers because of hearsay. She could not go to the Minister and start mumbling as a result of information in the papers. She was not responsible to the papers nor does she account to the papers. It is true that it had taken a long time to deal with it but it would be dealt with now.

Mr Ollis raised his hand to make a comment but the Chairperson said that the dialogue could not continue. Everything had been discussed on the issue and Mr Ollis was appreciated for bringing up the matter but things must be done in the right way. She reiterated that before the end of April all the constituencies of NEDLAC and DOL would at the Committee to give an answer to the issues raised.

Committee programme

Mr Sakasa reminded Members that the Limpopo Public Hearing had been scheduled for the 14th and the logistics and travel details would be sent to members as soon as possible. Travelling would be on Friday, the Public Hearing on Saturday and possibly the return would be on Sunday. The mobilisation has been taken care of for the programme. He was still busy with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation on the proposed international study tour. Quotes were needed so that an application could be put to the House Chairperson with regard to accommodation and ground travels.

The Chairperson thanked all in attendance.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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