Department of Labour on its plan to utilise Inspection and Enforcement Services budget; Committee Report on Department of Labour 2015/16 budget

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Employment and Labour

29 April 2015
Chairperson: Ms L Yengeni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Labour presented a proposal for Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES), which had been developed in view of the changing nature of work currently being experienced. Inspection was the primary mode of service delivery for the Department, and there was a realisation that the inspectorate was not geared towards meeting these changing demands in the work environment, as there were currently only 85 occupational health and safety (OHS) inspectors in the Department. The rate of OHS incidents in the country continued to increase, with the construction industry alone reporting at least two fatalities every week. The country was spending over R2 billion every year on workplace incidents.

In attempt to address this challenge, an action plan for 2015 had been prepared on funding projections from Treasury. The total amount of expected funding was R64 million, which Treasury had taken away from the Department. The money had been taken away due to an error made by Treasury when making the initial allocation. The funding would be utilised to finalise job profiles, advertising for posts, conducting interviews, and filling of posts. Resources such as cars, personal protective equipment and furniture would also be provided by the funding. New inspectors would be required to undergo training to test competency. Inspectors who met the competency requirements would be deployed across the country.

However, there had been no budget provision to appoint additional inspectors. The money that the Department would receive from Treasury would be for continuing with the specialisation model. When Treasury had taken money away from the Department, some people had already been employed, so there was a need to ensure the Department could afford to retain these people. The R64 million intended for the 2016-17 financial year did not address the shortfall in the goods and services budget for things like computers and office furniture, which were needed to operate an office.

Members were not satisfied that the country was operating with 85 OHS inspectors, as the well-being of skilled workers was at such high risk. OHS incidents were putting pressure on the fiscus, as more and more workers were claiming compensation. Members suggested that perhaps the Department should consider shifting posts so that other inspectors in the Department could carry out OHS inspections.

Members agreed to support the proposed plan by the Department, with amendments, as it would be a step towards addressing the critical shortage of OHS inspectors. 

Meeting report

Briefing by Department of Labour

Mr Thobile Lamati, Director General, Department of Labour (DoL) said Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) were committed to DoL’s strategic objective of promoting good labour practices, such as sound labour relations, improved working conditions, adhering to minimum wage rates, fair labour practices and a healthy and safe working environment. The law was enforced in order to achieve the strategic objectives. As such, the IES strategy was premised on the three pillars of advocacy and awareness creation, conducting inspections and enforcement. The IES proposal had been developed in view of the changing nature of the work currently being experienced. Also inspection was the primary mode of service delivery for the Department, and it was realised that the inspectorate was not geared towards meeting these changing demands in the work environment.

Mr Lamati said the rate of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) incidents in the country continued to increase. The construction industry alone had a rate of two fatalities every week. Currently the country spends over R2 billion every year on workplace incidents. Labour legislation had been amended and new legislation such as PESA had been developed to eliminate OHS incidents. Currently there were at least three other pieces of labour legislation which had been proposed for amendments. Also secondary legislation, such as sectoral determinations as well as the introduction of a national minimum wage, had been implemented. The DoL had also developed 21 OHS regulations that required an inspectorate that was fit for purpose.

The DoL was required to align its strategies to the contribution of the key outcomes of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the medium term strategic framework (MTSF). Strategies also had to ensure the promotion of occupational health services in order for all to have a long and healthy life. There was also a strategic imperative to strengthen social protection by developing occupational health and safety policies. In addition, society had to be transformed and the nation united in the promotion of equity in the workplace.

Mr Lamati said the benchmark for occupational health and safety was the International Labour Organisation (ILO) benchmark, which was one inspector for every 20 000 members of the workforce. The Quarterly Labour Force Survey indicated that there were 15 320 000 employed persons. This meant that 1 011 OHS inspectors were required for the economically active population. However, employed workers would require 766 inspectors.

The DoL had a total staff establishment of 1 347 inspectors, and 1 247 posts were filled. The total budget for IES for 2015/2016 was R411m, and the budget allocation was R333.9m. The shortfall for IES was R77.1m. R87.3m was allocated for goods and services, of which R49m was allocated for inspections. The remainder of the budget was utilised for operational matters. However, in order to deliver on the Department’s current annual performance plan (APP) as approved by Cabinet, the goods and services budget required by IES was R82.9. This was based on the average cost of R449.83 per inspection. In terms of the operational budget, the DoL was already projecting a shortfall.

There were currently 100 approved staff establishment vacancies. The total employment budget was R349.3m, which covered only the filled posts. Treasury had reduced the IES budget by R64 million, which had created a shortfall, so the department had had to freeze the vacancies. The latest establishment report (March 2015) indicated that IES required R404.8m to cater for 1 347 full time established posts. The filled 1 247 full time established posts required R371m, whilst funding required for the 100 full time established posts was R31.7m. Therefore IES had a shortfall of R27.6m. The required funding was inclusive of the National Treasury projected annual salary increase of 5.8% from 1 April 2015, and a 1.5% pay progression system increase from 1 July 2015 for qualifying officials. The amounts did not include the 1.5% establishment merit awards. Therefore it should be noted that the additional R64 million intended for the next financial year could be utilised to address the deficit on the approved staff establishment.

Mr Lamati said that there would be no budget to appoint additional inspectors. The money that the Department would receive from Treasury would be for continuing with the specialisation model. When Treasury took money away from the Department, the DoL had already employed some people, so there was a need to ensure the Department could afford to maintain these people. The R64 million intended for the 2016-17 financial year did not address the shortfall in the goods and services budget. However, when a person was appointed, there was a need for things such as a computer and a desk, among other things, for which Treasury had not made a provision. At the same time, however, it was of critical importance to fill the staff establishment as approved. It would be foolhardy to use the funding to fill vacancies, as the Department could not allow inspectors to conduct inspections if it did not provide the concomitant goods and services budget. This meant the Department had to ensure that from the funding it received, that there was a provision for some concomitant costs.

The Department acknowledged that within the tight fiscal framework, it would be difficult to request an additional R77m for goods and services in addition to the proposed R64m earmarked. Therefore the Department proposed to spread out the load over a period of three years, as Treasury had made it clear that it would not allocate any more money. The proposal for an improved staff establishment had been made on the assumption that the organisation had a critical shortage of inspectors. The proposal had also been made on the assumption that it would establish critical capacity in all three major areas, with a focus on employment equity as well as OHS.

Recognising the tight fiscal environment, the Department proposed three possible scenarios. The first was a full funded budget, the second was funding provided for only 60 per cent of the proposal, or thirdly funding provided for 30 per cent of the proposal. The additional requirement was 636 inspectors -- 500 OHS inspectors, 100 employment equity inspectors and 36 Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) inspectors. The large labour centres would consist of one SR12 control Inspector, six SR10 principal inspectors for OHS, BCEA and Employment Equity Act (EEA).

With a full-funded scenario, compensation of employees would be as follows:

  • Under SR12, there would be a total of 27 employees with an annual cost of R630 876 per person, and a total cost of R17m;

  • Under SR10, there would be a total of 478 employees with an annual cost of R454 078 per employee, with a total cost of R217m; and

  • Under SR8, there would be 131 employees with an annual cost of R320 374 and a total cost of R42m.

Under this model the total cost of goods and services would be R112.2m and the whole model funding required was R388.2m, which the Department realised could not happen.

With a 60 percent funded model, only 356 posts would be filled progressively and the total cost would be R155.9m. The cost for goods and services would be R43m, which would bring the grand total to R198.9m.

With 30 percent funding for employees compensation, only 190 posts would be filled progressively. The total cost for employee compensation would be R82.5m, and adding the cost of goods and services of R33.5m, the grand total would be R116m.

The action plan for 2015 funding from Treasury included finalising job profiles which was being undertaken by Organisational Development (OD). Adverts for posts would be placed by the corporate services branch, interviews would be conducted by IES, and the posts would be filled by the corporate services branch. Resources such as cars, personal protective equipment and furniture would be provided by IES. Training would be required for new inspectors and this would also be provided by IES, which would also test the competency of the inspectors. If they met the requirements, then the inspectors would be deployed.

Mr Lamati said there was quite some work to do to convince Treasury to release the necessary funding in order for DoL to do its work. Currently, DoL was carrying out a verification exercise to ensure that those on the DoL’s payroll really existed and were working, which would ensure a valid staff establishment with vacancies for posts which really existed. The exercise would be completed at the end of May 2015. The Department would have a clear picture of the staff complement and the actual vacancies and whether the vacancies were really needed. The exercise would also enable the Department to determine what could be done to prioritise the filling of vacancies in core areas, such as inspection and enforcement services.

Discussion

The Chairperson said the presentation hadbeen well mapped out. She invited Members to engage with the Department.

Mr I Ollis (DA) said he was greatly concerned with the presentation. He had been in the Committee on and off since 2009. The Department was going backwards with OHS, and if the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) had been present in the meeting, it would be dissatisfied and complaining that it was unacceptable, and that there were not enough OHS inspectors. Matters were note getting better, they were actually getting worse, and the Department was handing the Opposition a gift on a plate to attack the government. He asked if the Minister of Labour was aware of the gross shortage of OHS inspectors. If the Minister was aware of the shortage, did the Minister endorse the plan or have reservations about the numbers. He certainly had massive reservations, as people who worked in refrigeration plants, farms and welding factories did not have safety equipment. The Department was telling the Committee that it did not have the capacity to check on this, as it had a small number of inspectors. This was unacceptable and anyone who said the situation was acceptable would just be ridiculous.

Mr Ollis said that in the presentation, the Department had talked about 1 011 additional inspectors, but he thought it meant that the total number of inspectors for OHS needed to be 1 011. The department needed 1 011, but had 85. He said that if there were 500 inspectors, the Committee could be somewhat satisfied, but 85 inspectors was just too low. He would be shocked if the Committee endorsed the proposal. How could it be said that South Africa had a caring government when it did not care about the safety of workers by engaging inspectors to be monitoring things other than safety? Safety was paramount and workers could not worry about making R93 or R94 per hour if their hand had been cut off by a welding machine or the refrigeration machine had frozen off workers’ fingers. The Committee should not allow the issue of OHS to be left without dealing with it.

Mr Ollis said he understood that the DG was fairly new, and would make allowance for the fact that the DG had not yet received some of the details. However some of the details presented had not been correct. The DG had spoken of the R64 million as a shortfall, but the way it had been explained was not quite correct. Members who had been around a little bit longer would know that the said R64million was unspent, and Treasury had taken it away. That did not make it a shortfall -- it meant that the Department was not doing its job and was unable to spend the money. Inspectors had not been appointed and the Treasury had taken the money as apparently the Department did not need it. The Committee had then screamed and shouted that the posts needed to be filled, upon which the Treasury had agreed to reinstate the money, with conditions. The R64 million was therefore not a shortfall -- it was money that had been unspent by the Department and taken away by the Treasury.

He added that Mr Virgil Seafield, Acting Director General, Inspection and Enforcement Services, had informed the Committee that the money had not been spent on inspectors because the Department was being restructured and wanted to create specialist posts, as such people could not just be shoved into posts. This meant the money could not be spent until the vacancies were in their desired form. There was no shortfall, but a management problem had occurred. He was not satisfied with the way the plan had been laid out, as it would not change the number of OHS inspectors from 85, as it was premised on the hope that government would provide funding and in the current economic environment this would not happen.

Mr Ollis suggested that vacancies should be shifted from some other categories into OHS. If he were the Minister of Labour, he would also fight for more funding. However, if the Department was not getting more funding, then posts would have to be shifted from other areas, as 85 would not do the job. About 85 OHS inspectors were required per province. For instance KZN, Gauteng and the Western Cape alone needed about 100 OHS inspectors each, and the Department had 85 inspectors for the whole country. He was not saying the Department had done something terribly wrong, but that with the funding that the Department had there should not be a situation where the country was running with 85 OHS inspectors. Either the Department had to shift posts or go back to Treasury to ask for more money. The plan in its current state would not work. People would get injured at work and the Department would have to pay compensation. There should be more inspectors in order for the compensation fund to have fewer claims. Financially it was a problem, but also there was the human cost involved, as skilled workers would be injured as employers did not always provide protective clothing for workers.

The Chairperson asked Mr Ollis to clarify his point about shifting posts.

Mr Ollis said that his point was about shifting funded posts. In other words, there were a few hundred posts of inspectors looking after enforcement of other legislation, such as 643 inspectors for BCEA, 49 inspectors for EEA and only 85 inspectors for OHS. He said OHS was a priority, and suggested changes to be made with the 643 inspectors enforcing BCEA. Another alternative would be to get more money to prevent injuries. He said more funding or making changes in posts were the only viable options that he could think of, unless the Department had another option in mind,

The Chairperson reminded Members about the purpose of the meeting. Mr Ollis was correct to say the Committee had invited the Department to make a presentation because the Committee did not want to fall into the trap of asking for money or supporting the budget for funding of IES strategy, and for the money later to be withdrawn. The Committee was concerned and had been hard on the Department beforehand, as it had never accepted the theory that there was a shortfall. Nevertheless it had asked to have the money back on condition that the Department made a presentation on the IES proposal. The Committee wanted to be informed on how the money would be utilised with a clear detailed plan, so that it could ask Treasury to give the money back to the Department. In addition, it would also be able to monitor the Department on its implementation of the IES strategy. She asked Members to look for loopholes in the plan and add to it, so that the plan could be implemented successfully. If there were areas in the plan which would not work out, then the Committee must highlight them and explain why the plan would not work.

The Chairperson said she had reservations about the inspectors, perhaps because of her little knowledge. She thought inspectors had different expertise and were deployed in different areas, based on their expertise. Perhaps the Department could answer why there were more inspectors in other areas and fewer where inspectors were needed the most -- where people were dying. She asked Members to desist from repeating what had been said in the previous meeting when it had criticised the way the Department had handled the matter. At the time, the Committee had been in agreement with Treasury to take back the money if it was not utilised.

Mr M Bagraim (DA) said he had underlined exactly what Mr Ollis had had to say. The bottom line was that South Africa had good labour laws in place, but there was no inspectorate to enforce them. He implored the Department to have a relook at all the inspectors and their training, because if OHS was not subject to inspection, then there was no need for any other inspector. There would be accidents all over, which would cost Treasury ten times what it would have cost to have inspectors. When employers knew they were being watched, they would do the proper thing, but once employers were aware that there was nobody watching, they would not do it.

He was not sure where the Department had obtained the 5.8 percent projected annual salary increase which it had budgeting for. He did not think any of the trade unions would agree with that figure, as they had demanded a ten percent increase. What would happen if the department went beyond the 5.8 percent increase? He agreed with Mr Ollis on the structure of the inspectorate in terms of re-aligning where the inspectorate would be, because even if new inspectors were appointed, it did not make a difference what training would then be given. If the Department was going to look at inspectors for OHS, then the inspectors would be given that training. He suggested that the Department should look at more than 500 OHS inspectors, and perhaps the extra 100 BCEA or EEA inspectors might not be needed. If this was the constraint, he suggested the Department should look entirely at OHS.

There were high figures for workers’ compensation from other departments as well, who were not able to keep up with the claims. One of the reasons why the other departments could not keep up with the claims was because of accidents at the work place which put enormous pressure on the departments and in turn put pressure on the fiscus. Other than supporting what Mr Ollis had sai, he suggested that the Department should go back and look at the 5.8 percent salary increase it was suggesting.

Ms F Loliwe (ANC) said the Chairperson had covered the points she wanted to raise about the trend the Committee was following. The Committee wanted to assist the Department to secure funding for IES, but the Department should be able to commit the funding to clear programmes. She agreed that the inspectorate was one of the areas which required attention. However, if there were untrained inspectors, they would be the same as the existing inspectors. When the Committee had visited farms, it had been informed that some inspectors who inspected farms had only talked to the employer and not the farm workers. This suggested that inspectors needed to be upskilled.

She said if the Department went to the Treasury with the three scenarios, Treasury might apply what was applied in procurement, by going for the lowest budget. The department should not open so many avenues, as the scenarios implied that the Department could survive on 30 percent, which was not the case. The Committee had asked the Department to commit the R64 million so that it could support the Department’s request to Treasury to give back the R64 million. The Department should limit the scope of the proposal, and not ask for 30 percent, as it would be plunging itself into a crisis. She appreciated the DG for having a vision, which was apparent every time the Department was asked to make a presentation. The Committee did not want the vision to fail due to lack of funds. She appealed for the Committee to suggest that the Department should leave the 100 percent and 60 percent proposals in its presentation. The Committee could then argue with Treasury along those lines, after the Department had clearly stated how the funds would be utilised.

Ms Loliwe said that in the presentation, the Department had stated that there would be no budget to appoint additional inspectors and fill the established posts only. She asked whether this implied that the staff establishment had been approved, having taken into consideration or excluded inspectors. The inspectorate was an area where the Committee had always said there was a deficit. In the assumptions, the Department had provided a scenario of a large labour centre, specifically in Sandton, and she asked if the Department could provide a scenario of a labour centre in Gugulethu. Not all labour centres were large and not all of them were suffering in the same manner.

If the skills audit revealed that some of the vacancies were not needed, what would the Department do with those employees. taking into consideration their rights?

Ms S van Schalkwyk (ANC) said the DG had mentioned that the scenario of ghost employees had been ruled out. She asked whether the Department had investigated whether any employees were on suspension, and also if the 85 inspectors of OHS were on duty every day.

Mr D America (DA) said he appreciated the department soliciting additional funding for additional posts to be filled. The department should perhaps also consider multi-skilling inspectors so that they could have more areas of responsibility, and the same inspectors could also carry out inspections on either OHS or employment equity matters. Multi-skilling of inspectors would ensure that inspectors could be assigned where the need arose. In Mpumalanga, following a visit, what was clear from the submissions of farm workers was that employers were not complying with BCEA standards, the EEAct, as well as OHS aspects. What was needed, therefore, was to have a broader spectrum of inspectors who would be able to cover the areas which were most needed at a particular time.

Mr Lamati said that the Department was coming from an era where the inspectorate was integrated in 1999, and every inspector was able to do OHS work. The approach was highly problematic, as OHS was a highly specialised field with people who were qualified in various fields, such as engineering, environmental health and other areas. Multi skilling inspectors could sometimes pose a challenge. He cited a case involving a construction site in which he was the OHS inspector, and the Department had lost the case. The case had been thoroughly investigated and had been taken to court. However, Mr Lamati had been challenged that he could not testify in the matter, as he was a qualified engineer and not specialised in construction work. Following this, the Department had taken a decision to go back to specialisation, as that was how the OHS Act was formulated. For instance, there were electrical installation regulations, hazardous chemical substance regulations, and so forth. The Act was set up in such a way that whoever administered the inspection had to be qualified and specialised in that specific area. He added that Mr America’s point was noted, and any inspector who visited a workplace for inspection should be able to take note of anomalies right away and be able to inform a specialised inspector.

The Department was clear about the commitment for the R64 million, and how it would be utilised. If Members would recall the 2012 budget vote made by the Minister of Labour, it was said that the Minister had approved the implementation of a specialisation model for Inspection and Enforcement Services. In terms of the allocation that was given to Treasury, based on that model, Treasury had said that it was giving the Department R64 million to be used for additional inspectors. Whilst the Department was in the process of adding more numbers to the inspectors, Treasury had said it had made an error -- the money was to be used for specialisation, as the initial request had been for specialisation. At the time of allocation, Treasury had said the Department should add more numbers, but this would not have addressed the problems that the inspectorate was facing, as people were leaving the Department for Public Works and the Department of Mineral Resources, which paid more than the DoL. The Department had then decided to develop a specialisation model, which would have a specialist inspector and a principal inspector in all OHS disciplines. This was what slide 20 of the presentation had been referring to, which was that Treasury had taken back the money when the Department was in the process of implementing the specialisation model. Furthermore, the Department had been in agreement with Treasury to provide a weekly progress report, which it was complying with. As such, when the decision had been made to take back the money, the Department had been surprised. However, Treasury had promised that by the end of the 2015/16 financial year, the money would be paid back. The Department was therefore presenting a proposal to the Committee that the money was not for creating new positions, but for positions that the Minister had already approved to be filled. That was the shortfall that the Department was talking about.

Mr Lamati said that the skills audit would not violate the rights of workers who were presently employed. The exercise was also help to evaluate whether people were correctly placed in the Department and if not, then the shortfalls would be dealt with.

The Department wanted to highlight what the impact of a larger labour centre would be. For a smaller labour centre, what normally happened was that staff was allocated to that particular centre, depending on the number of people that visited it, as well as the number of industries in the area. He added the point had been noted, and would be looked at.

The department would take the Committee’s recommendation on funding scenarios, whether it was at 100 or 60 percent.

Mr Lamati agreed that the Department needed to upgrade and re-skill the inspectors. A training programme was set out annually by highly skilled inspectors in the Department. It also tried to correct things as it went along. The Department would ensure that when inspectors were carrying out inspections, they would talk to both employers and employees.

He did not have any information as to whether any of the 85 inspectors were on suspension, as the inspectors were at a provincial level. The 85 were junior OHS inspectors in the Department. However there was a band of inspectors at a much higher level, which was at 47, where there were 12 specialist inspectors throughout the country. There were 22 principal inspectors throughout the country.

The Department would take advice on the IES funding, on whether it would be at 100 percent. This would be very difficult, because there were a lot of complaints that the DoL received concerning labour-related matters and employment equity, which could not be ignored. Quite a number of inspections in these fields had been carried out over the years. The inspections ran to over 100 000, mainly due to the fact that employers did not want to pay what was required by them. There were complaints of people not being paid overtime work and inspectors were needed to do that work. As such, shifting inspectors might create problems. Even though the Department might wish to have more, the main focus was on OHS.

Mr Lamati wanted it put on record that even though there were 145 OHS inspectors in the country, the amount of work done, particularly in the past five to six years, had enabled the Department to achieve quite a lot. Firstly, the responsibility to comply with the law rested with the employers. The Department had held discussions with employers in different sectors, where the employers’ responsibility had been highlighted, as well as the Department’s responsibility. OHS accords had been signed in the construction, chemical and iron and steel environments. Each stakeholder had committed to take responsibility for what happened in OHS. The Department had a responsibility to monitor and should not shoulder the blame, as the responsibility was to comply with the law. Workers were exposed to hazardous environments by employers, so they should equally take the blame for OHS incidents. The Department was appealing to the Committee for support to help ensure it was provided with funding to appoint more OHS inspectors and at the same time make employers aware of their responsibility.

Mr Bheki Maduna, CFO, DoL, responded that in terms of the budgeting guidelines, Treasury had given the Department a set of assumptions when preparing the employee compensation budget. The assumptions were 1.5 per cent for key progression, 1.5 percent for bonuses for those who qualified, and 5.8 percent for the cost of living adjustment. In the past, employee compensation had been more than the budget assumptions and Treasury had made some amends to cover the shortfall. Therefore the 5.8 percent had been given by Treasury to budget for compensation of employees.

Mr Lamati said that the Minister was aware of the gross shortage of OHS inspectors, and that was why the Minister had approved the OHS specialisation plan in 2012 to increase the number of OHS inspectors. The Minister was also in support of the Department’s plan to request for more funding from Treasury to increase the number of OHS inspectors.

Mr Ollis asked for clarity about the benchmark on slide 10 of the presentation, where it said that South Africa required 1 011 OHS inspectors for the economically active population. He did not understand what the sentence meant which said employed workers would require 766 inspectors. He asked if the Department could explain the difference between the 1 011 and 766.

Mr Seafield responded that the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) talked about the economically active population, which was in excess of 15 320 000. In terms of the QLFS released in February 2015 stated that there were 15 320 000 people in employment. Looking at the economically active population, if one calculated using the ratios provided, 1 011 OHS inspectors would be required, but if calculations were made using only the numbers of workers employed, 766 OHS inspectors would be required. The Department had decided to use the OHS benchmark in the proposal.

Mr Ollis said that what the Department was saying then was that there was a big difference between economically active people and people who were actually employed, and these were two separate categories.

The Chairperson asked the Committee to make a decision, as it had requested the Department to present a plan for IES. If the Committee was happy with the plan then it could support a request for Treasury to re-allocate the money to the Department to employ more inspectors to address the current shortage of inspectors, or to continue with the plan that the Department said it was busy with before money was withdrawn. She asked Members if they were happy with the plan.

Mr Ollis said he was happy with the Chairperson’s statement that the Committee would support the request for funding to be returned to the Department. However he was not happy with the 85 in the document, because it was not known when the money would be refunded to the Department.

The Chairperson said she wanted all Members to move with an equal understanding of what the Committee agreed and disagreed on. She was not clear about Mr Ollis’s discontent with the 85. She asked if Mr Ollis was proposing that the Department should take something from the 640 to add to the 85, or balance. Given the explanation offered by the Department that OHS needed specialised people with certain expertise and academic qualifications to be part of the 85, it was clear that inspectors could not just be shifted anyhow. The Department should rather look for more inspectors in the market.

Ms Van Schalkwyk said that given Mr Ollis’s concerns, the Committee should adopt the plan given by the Department, as that would assist in improving on the 85, which was currently the problem. As such, the Committee should approve the plan as presented by the Department.

The Chairperson said she would not normally allow dialogue but wanted to give Mr Ollis the opportunity to say something. She agreed with Ms Van Schalkwyk that the Committee should approve the plan so that the Department could source more inspectors, which would address the 85.

Mr Ollis sought clarity, because in his understanding the Committee was being asked to support a one-year budget plan. From budget plan, he understood that for the one year there would be 85 OHS inspectors in the provinces and some other specialists which would bring the grand total to 145. In the following year, the Department would be allocated funding to employ additional people. On this basis, he was not able to accept the plan because it meant only 85 OHS inspectors for the next 12 months. He was more satisfied with the budget for the following financial year, because if Treasury did give the Department money, then the problem would be fixed in 2016.

Ms Loliwe said in her understanding, when the Committee was making comments on areas of discomfiture, it was sending signals to the Department to make the necessary amendments. Mr Ollis had already done that when he said the Committee could not be comfortable with 85 OHS inspectors. Furthermore what Mr Ollis was suggesting, the DG had already responded that it might not be easy to do. The DG had already stated that the Department was conducting a skills audit, and perhaps after the audit it would be discovered that some of the people with the required expertise were already in the Department. She appealed for members to accept the plan on condition that priority would be given to the inspectorate, because the Committee was not happy with it.

The Chairperson said that all were in agreement that the 85 OHS inspectors were not enough. She agreed with Ms Loliwe that perhaps the three scenarios should be removed, because when presented with such options, people always opted for the easy one. It would be better to go with the 100 percent scenario. The Department should motivate more on its plans for IES inspectors, because working conditions for workers were horrible and scary. Mpumalanga had been the worst case scenario.

The Chairperson said the Committee supported the budget, with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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