Committee Report on Quarter 1 & 2 Performance of Entities; Committee Reports on oversight visits

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Employment and Labour

10 May 2017
Chairperson: Ms L Yengeni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Draft Committee Minutes dated 8 March 2017
Draft Committee Minutes dated 3 May 2017
Draft Committee Reports dated 4 May 2017


The Chairperson informed the Committee of the presence of a new Member, Ms Lerato Theko (ANC).

The Committee considered and adopted draft minutes dated 8 March 2017, 3 May 2017 and 4 May 2017.

Thereafter the Committee considered and adopted draft Committee Oversight Reports to the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. In discussion of the KZN oversight report, Members relayed experience of Members being denied access to the factory and that the employer did not seem to take the visit seriously – it was suggested the employer be invited to the Committee. Members insisted that action should be taken in this regard. It was suggested that the Committee be accompanied by a member of the SA Police Service (SAPS) and officer from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). There was also a suggestion that oversight visits be announced – other Members thought this might weaken effectiveness of impromptu visits. Members bemoaned the terrible state of the factory visited, foreign nationals working there and that some were living on the factory premises in terrible conditions. There was agreement that the Department of Labour (DoL) respond to the Committee’s report in writing within two weeks.

In discussion of the Western Cape report, a Member noted that the Committee was accompanied by a SAPS member and DHA officer. It was suggested this model be adopted by the Committee to avoid what was encountered on the KZN oversight visit.

The Committee discussed the need to get legal advice on action the Committee could take if such challenges reoccurred as was discussed, action which could be taken against the factory in KZN and the role and powers of the Committee when conducting oversight visits. Members raised that textile industries in KZN were in a terrible state and not paying the recommended minimum wage for the sector. It was also said that the Committee did not receive feedback on implementation of Committee recommendations – without this, how would effectiveness of oversight visits be evaluated? In terms of recommendations to the two draft oversight reports under consideration, the Committee recommended that the Committee be accompanied by a SAPS member and DHA officer on oversight visits.

The Draft Committee Reports on Oversight Visits to KZN and the Western Cape were adopted with amendments.

The Committee also adopted minutes dated 8 March 2017, 3 May 2017 and 4 May 2017 without amendment along with a draft report on Quarter One and Two Performance of the Entities (without amendment). 

Meeting report

Draft Committee Minutes dated 8 March 2017
The Chairperson informed the Committee of the presence of a new Member, Ms Lerato Theko (ANC).

Draft Committee minutes dated 8 March 2017 were adopted without amendments.

Draft Committee Minutes dated 3 May 2017
The above minutes were adopted without amendment.

Draft Committee Minutes dated 4 May 2017
The above minutes were adopted without amendment.

Draft Committee Report: Quarter One and Two Performance of the Entities
Mr I Ollis (DA) observed that no recommendations were made in the report and asked if this was the norm.

The Chairperson responded that the report was in a draft form and so could be amended by Members.

Mr M Bagraim (DA) said the key question was whether the Committee was meant to make recommendations or to merely report on what transpired during the meeting. If the latter, he was happy with the report but if there was a need for recommendations, this would lead to a whole new debate.

The Chairperson stated that either way, the Committee was on the right track – the report was in a draft form so if there were areas in which Members felt recommendations should be made, they were able to.

Ms F Loliwe (ANC) pointed out that, since the report was not being adopted today, there was still opportunity for Members to make recommendations along with any further additions.

The Chairperson said that if Members were comfortable with the draft report in its current state, it could be adopted. She was happy to allow Members further time to amend the report and make recommendations if they so wished. She was advised that with Committee reports on quarterly performance, recommendations were not really made. Recommendations were mainly for the Annual Report process.

The draft Committee Report: Quarter One and Two Performance of the Entities was adopted without amendment.

Draft Committee Report on Oversight Visit to KZN, dated 10 May 2017
The Chairperson noted that she would not be able to contribute to discussion on the report because she did not attend the oversight visit. She would rely on inputs on the report from Mr Bagraim and Ms Loliwe.  

Mr Bagraim informed the Committee that the oversight visit was a success except for some incidences encountered by Committee Members. He was trapped in the elevator of a factory visited and assistance did not come on time. One Committee Member was denied entry into the front door of the factory. He asked if there were actions the Committee could take when members were subjected to such treatment.

Ms Loliwe said the owner of the factory was absent at the time of the oversight visit and employees violently denied Members entering the building. While the visit was lawful, the Committee would wait for the report from the Department of Labour (DoL) before determining action to take. Entry into the factory was not easily accessible and the working conditions were in a very terrible state. She felt SA retail chains, which were supplied their fabric from this factory, should be informed of the condition of the factory. Organisers of the oversight visit, however, did a great job. The only challenge encountered was the attitude of the factory workers.

Mr Ollis suggested that the owner of the company be summoned since Parliament had the power to do so. It was important that Members were accompanied by an officer of the SA Police Services (SAPS) and also an officer from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) - this should be a requirement before any oversight visit was carried out.

Ms S Van Schalkwyk (ANC) was one of the Committee Members denied entry into the factory - her major concern was the employer not taking the oversight visit of the Committee seriously.

Mr Bagraim highlighted the importance of the public being informed of impromptu oversight visits by the Committee – such information could be disseminated through television jingles and newspaper publications.
There must be other consequences where Committee Members were denied access to factories apart from shutting down the factory. The legal team should be asked to look into other actions that could be taken in such situations. Many workers in Kwazulu-Natal were paid below the bargaining council agreement and the bargaining council should be notified.

Ms Loliwe agreed with the suggestion that Committee Members be accompanied by the police and a staff member of the DHA. Some factories were informed of the Committee’s oversight visits even beforehand thereby weakening the importance of impromptu visits. KZN seemed to have the highest number of foreign nationals working in SA without adequate permits. She agreed that the owner of the factory should be invited by the Committee. One of the factories visited in Newcastle, which was allegedly owned by a cooperative society, was not able to provide documents to support this allegation. The Committee also noticed that owners of the company were not SA citizens - the company should be investigated by the legal team to determine its ownership.

Ms Van Schalkwyk said that during Committee oversight visits, it was also observed that some foreign nationals working in the factory also lived within the premises of the factory in horrible living conditions. She suggested the DoL should be informed to investigate this.

The Chairperson said that she was informed that the manager of the factory was arrested but it should be the owner that should be arrested. On the question about the receipt of reports on the Committee’s recommendations from DoL, inspectors were informed to respond to the issues raised in writing and that Ms Loliwe should give the Department a deadline on the submission of this report.

Draft Committee Report on Oversight Visit to the Western Cape, dated 10 May 2017
On the review of this draft report, Mr Ollis informed the Committee that Members on the oversight visit in the Western Cape were accompanied by police officer and an official from the DHA – this was arranged by the organisers of the visit. Some people were arrested as a result of the issues raised during the visit. Accompaniment by SAPS and DHA should be adopted as a model by the Committee to avoid such incidences as encountered at the KZN visit.

Mr Bagraim commended Abagold Limited in Hermanus as a model employer who complied with the required labour laws.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Members who participated in the oversight vists. On the challenges encountered, the legal team would be invited to advise the Committee on the legal options available to it when such challenges were encountered. As long as the DoL was informed of these visits, proper oversight would not be carried out because those factories will be informed of the visits.  As Parliament, the Committee was vested with the power to invite DHA official to accompany it on such visits without informing the DoL. The Committee can also get a police escort through the Parliamentary Security Unit without going through the DoL. However, the presence of the police would be to help if the situation was violent as the police cannot force their way into a closed factory. The legal team should also enlighten the Committee on its role and powers when conducting oversight visits and also legal action which could be taken against a factory. The DoL would also be invited in the next meeting.

Mr Ollis said the textile industries were in a terrible state and many of the companies in the industry did not pay up the recommended minimum wage imposed by government. The DoL should investigate and penalise companies that did not pay minimum wage to their employees. The DHA should investigate and ensure factory workers were SA citizens and, where they were not, had valid permits to work in SA. The new board in the DoL should be informed to investigate the various sectors and the minimum wage for each sector.

Mr D America (DA) noted that the Committee hardly received any feedback on implementation of its recommendations from DoL – this feedback would help in evaluating the effectiveness of the oversight visits.

Ms Loliwe informed the Committee that DoL was given two weeks, from the date of the oversight visit, to submit the report and provide feedback to the Committee.

The Chairperson asked Members to add or amend recommendations of the report instead of reviewing the report in its entirety as she assumed Members would have read the reports already. The reports could be adopted immediately if there were no further recommendations/amendments by Members.

Mr Ollis asked if the Committee should wait for the feedback from DoL before adopting the reports.

The Committee agreed that the reports be adopted with the following additional recommendations:

  • Members were to be accompanied by police officers on future oversight visits
  • Members were to be accompanied by an officer from the Department of Home Affairs on future oversight visits

Mr Ollis recommended that the minimum wage panel be informed to investigate the textile industries in Kwazulu-Natal.

Ms Loliwe opined that this would delay the report but suggested that the DoL confirm if factories met the minimum wage as mandated by the sector.

The Chairperson said that the minimum wage panel may delay the recommendation but the DoL can be asked to confirm the minimum wages immediately.

Mr Bagraim moved for adoption of the Draft Committee Report on Oversight Visit to the Western Cape, dated 10 May 2017.

The motion was second by Ms L Mjobo (ANC).

Draft Committee Report on Oversight Visit to the Western Cape, dated 10 May 2017 was adopted with amendments.

Ms Van Schalkwyk moved for adoption of the Draft Committee Report on Oversight Visit to KZN, dated 10 May 2017.

The motion was seconded by Mr America and Mr Ollis.

Draft Committee Report on Oversight Visit to KZN, dated 10 May 2017 was adopted with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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