The Portfolio Committee on Labour met to consider the Draft Committee Report on the Quarter 2 performance of the Department of Labour (DoL); and to discuss the way forward in terms of the Labour Bills before the Committee.
The draft report had just two recommendations that talked to the fact that entities needed to be consistent in their reporting and that entities should follow standard format of reporting. Members agreed that those were not sufficient, taking into consideration the underperformances recorded in the report and the rate of unemployment in South Africa.
Members highlighted the underperformance in most programs and also noted that where the Department indicated a level of performance, it did not correlate with the challenges and realities in the labour sector, i.e. the unemployment rate, complaints by the public on the Compensation Fund, etc. A decision was made to award members more time to make concrete recommendations which the Department have to address before they presented on their Quarter 3 performance.
The Committee also discussed the way forward on the processing of submissions received on the Labour Bills before the Committee. 10 written submissions were received in total. Some Members however queried why COSATU, trade unions and other big organisations have not made submissions at that time, while they have been very vocal in the media. An EFF Member did not think COSATU’s presence will change anything, being that they was part and parcel of the decisions at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and he labeled the trade union as “counter-revolutionary”. He did however note that not enough workers are engaging and warned the Committee that these processes should not be just for elite groups.
Members of the opposition parties were worried that the Committee was rushing the process and that the relevant individuals and organisations might not have seen the advert that called for submissions. It was agreed that the Committee will meet on the 20th with the Department to scrutinize the submissions and those wanting to make oral presentations will be provisionally scheduled to appear on the 22nd and 23rd of March 2018. Mr M Bagraim (DA) wanted it officially put on record that he wanted the Committee to make contact with known organisations to get submissions, he thought the process was rushed and that it was a disservice to the public by not affording the process more time.
Members elected Ms S Van Schalkwyk (ANC) as Acting Chairperson following the tragic death of Ms Fezeka Loliwe (ANC), former Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour.
The Acting Chairperson then asked Members to stand in a moment of silence to honour Ms F Loliwe (ANC). She thanked the Members and said may her soul rest in peace.
Mr M Bagraim (DA) congratulated the Acting Chairperson. He promised his support and to do everything to make the Committee work. There will be differences in opinion, but it was personal basis, but differences will be voiced. He apologised in advance for not being able to attend the funeral and requested those attending to express condolences on his behalf and a letter in that regard will be send to the family. He applauded the former Chairperson saying she had a great influece on the Committee and that she was good leader. He also said the opposition felt real loss by the passing of Ms Loliwe (ANC).
The Acting Chairperson shared the same sentiments as Mr Bagraim. She thanked Members for supporting her as Acting Chairperson in an effort to reach the objectives of the Committee until the position was filled. She welcomed and introduced the two new members to the Committee, i.e. Mr B Martins (ANC) and Ms F Muthambi (ANC), noting that they will bring a lot of capacity and knowldege through dedication and hardwork.
Mr Martins thanked the Acting Chairperson for the kind words.
Two apologies were entertained from Ms Muthambi and Mr M Plouamma (AGANG).
The Acting Chairperson said the Committee will only recognise written apologies in future.
The agenda for the meeting was adopted.
Draft Report on the 2017/18 Second Quarterly Report on the Performance of the DoL and its entities
Mr Sibongiseni Ngcobo, Content Adviser, said the report had already been circulated to Members. The way forward will be for Members to decide if there any inputs they would like to make, especially on the recommendations.
Mr Bagraim said there are just two recommendations. South Africa has an unemployment rate of 30%, but unofficially it was over 50%. Youth aged 16 to 25 are at 52% unemployment. South Africa was on the verge of an “Arab Spring” in the sense that each person who was unemployed was looking after up to four people. Taking into consideration over 50% unemployment and multiply that by four will give an enormous number of people who are trying to make a living informally or through grants. This was an impossible situation and it was at the helm of the Department of Labour (DoL) with a mandate to somehow ensure that employment increased.
According to DoL, the Public Employment Services programme performed at over 100%, but there was something radically wrong with achievements of 100% yet the country has an unemployment rate of over 50%. On inspection and enforcement services, he said inspection services did about 1% of the factory workers in South Africa when they do their inspections. They did not have the wherewithal for proper inspections. It was absolutely impossible to have over 50% official workers or workers in formal employment who did not have letters of appointment; and to have 75% overall of the inspection and enforcement services’ performance per province in Quarter 2 was unbelievably ridiculous.
In terms of the financial report, he asked the Acting Chairperson to recall that they made a heartfelt plea to the Minister that there was a desperate need for more finance for the Department. The targets were met pretty well but, he noted that he did not know where they are coming from. In terms of the Compensation Fund, there was 43% overall functioning but there are unbelievable complaints from the public all the time and he failed to understand or know where they got the 43% from. There was a need to make some recommendations somehow on what was believed by the Committee – more than just two bullet points that the entities be consistent in their reporting and that entities follow standard format of reporting. The Committee cannot have only these recommendations. .
Mr Martins agreed that it was important to highlight some of the issues highlighted in the circulated draft, e.g. performance per strategic objective. On the strategic objective of protecting vulnerable workers, achievement was 40%; and on promoting sound labour relations, overall achievement was 33%. The responsibility of the Committee as lawmakers in Parliament – he referred to the strategic objective of monitoring the impact of legislation that was at 0% - was to highlight and address the issues to have constructive criticism.
Mr D America (DA) was in agreement with previous speakers and said that only two recommendations are not enough and those recommendations did not mean anything. There were reports in the weekend papers on the instability in DoL and it was evident from this report that there entities that just underperformed. In terms of the terms of the Compensation Fund, none of the two planned indicators were achieved. Recommendations must therefore speak about those underperformances as to what needed to be done to ensure that performance will be raised. On the Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (1939) operations program, he said the 17% under spending was is in concomitant the overall performance of that particular program at 20% which is way below performance. On the quarterly performance report per program, nothing has been achieved on turn around solutions; it was supposed to improve service delivery but there was zero performance in terms of that. He asked if it is possible to instruct the Minister to make sure that performances are being raised. There seems to be a lack of leadership within the Department which needed to be addressed. He also said there was need to clarify some of the obstacles that inhibited the Department achieving some of its performance targets.
Mr P Moteka (EFF) firstly congratulated the Acting Chairperson and expressed his condolences on the death of Ms Loliwe. He was also worried that the recommendations meant nothing. Inspection and enforcement services, with 50% achievement, are where the main work of labour is. If there was no enforcement of compliance, it meant there was no DoL. Taking into consideration 50% and 25% for Limpopo and Mpumalanga respectively, there was nothing going on there and the Committee cannot keep quiet about that. All of the provinces failed to reach the target, but he was more worried about the poor performances in Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The workers will be exposed to all kinds of exploitation because of poor inspection. The Committee must recommend something on Mpumalanga before it became too bad.
Mr L Khorai (ANC) asked if the meeting was not for the Committee to concretise the report. He agreed with Members about the shortfalls in the report and he proposed that the meeting should discuss the report or Members can go through the report and come up with their proposals or recommendations that needed to enrich the report in line with the important issues that has been identified for it to be adopted.
Ms L Theko (ANC) was of the view that the report has to be considered. She noted that the Committee was not performing as legislators on oversight and monitoring. She seconded Martins in that the monitoring system of the legislators should be enhanced on the recommendations.
Mr Bagraim strongly recommended that the Department come back and give the Committee their inputs to the queries that have been raised; if possible to put it in writing. It was important to get their comments and inputs and some feedback in tackling the problems that the country was facing so that the Committee and the Department will be on the same page.
The Acting Chairperson said she has taken note of all the concerns raised. She reminded Members that it was the first draft of the report submitted to the committee. She agreed with Mr Khorai that Members can go back and relook the report and propose recommendations and the way forward. In terms of the Department coming back to clarify certain issues on the report, the third quarterly performance was already ready, but before DoL can present that, they can give feedback and the way forward or what has been done to remedy the challenges of the second quarterly report.
Members supported the proposal to go back and properly scrutinise the report and come up with concrete recommendations in terms of the report and trying to move forward.
The Acting Chairperson asked Members to send all the proposals through to the Committee Secretary who will then identify a date to properly adopt the report.
Mr Bagraim proposed recommendations to be submitted within seven days.
Members agreed to submit by the end of business on Tuesday.
Mr Bagraim asked if there was money to buy flowers and other things for the funeral of Ms Loliwe.
The Acting Chairperson said currently the Committee did not have money, but she proposed that Members get together after the meeting and quickly discuss the matter off the record.
Way forward on the Processing of Submissions received on the Labour Bills before the Committee
Mr Ngcobo said the closing date for submissions was Friday, 16th of March 2018; 10 written submissions had been received so far. Those who want to make oral presentations must indicate such. Only one entity has indicated that they would like to come and an oral submission, i.e. the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC). AgriSA was one of the institutions recommended for oral submission because of the substantial written submission they made. It will be prudent to have them to present before the Committee for Members to ask questions and get clarity/ The Confederation of Association in Private Employment Sector (CAPES) also made a substantial written submission and it was recommended that they also do an oral presentation. Those are the three organizations that are recommended and more written submissions are expected until Friday. The Workers’ College based in Durban will submit their written submission on the 15th of March 2018 or before the closing date. They also indicated that they would like to come and do an oral presentation. The content advisory desk cannot confirm as it has not received their submission yet. By Monday, 19th the summary of all the written submissions will be available for the Members to go through.
Mr Bagraim suggested the Committee write to 10 entities so that they can be able to make oral submissions. He was pretty shocked and surprised that not one of the trade unions has made any intention to come forward despite that they make a lot of noise in respect of issues around the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The Committee can let COSATU know that at least they have a chance to make oral submissions to avoid being tarnished as a useless committee. The employer organizations are also making comments in the media both on television and radio about how many jobs are going to be lost, but they have not come forward. He asked if the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, whom he referred to the Committee Secretary made a submission.
Mr Moteka said he was worried that the deadline was too soon. He asked what method was used to reach the people. He went through the submissions which are already there and said there are mostly from the elite and employers and he did not see the workers. He was worried since the submissions are part of public participation. He asked why those who have the financial power of employing others are the ones who are bringing concerns of jobs. He wanted to hear from the workers about the loss of jobs. He asked which method did the Committee use to reach the disadvantaged, workers, farmers, and the rural areas. The committee cannot only deal with the elite group of the society.
Ms Theko asked that the Committee be reminded of the date that they issued the advert for the submissions so that the issue of how the Committee communicated the invite to members to comment will be clarified. .
Mr Khorai said the administration has done their part, referring to the advert which was aired to the media. The invitation was very clear that if the members want to make an oral submission, they must let the Committee know. The organizations invited knew the procedures and he did not see the necessity to call them again since the advertisement was very clear. He shared the same sentiments as Mr Bagraim as to why COSATU was not coming forward. They cannot make a lot of noise and when given an opportunity to air their views, they did not want to use that opportunity and wanted to shift the blame again. Since the trade unions represented constituencies or groups of people with shared interests or political opinions, they must come forward and it was not the responsibility of the Committee to call them to make oral submissions. Friday was not too soon taking into cognisance that the President has said that he wanted this finished within a specific space of time. The Committee must therefore deal with these issues and report back to Parliament. He proposed that the Committee continue and wait to receive some submissions before Friday. Those who submitted are the genuine people who want to deal with these issues of labour. The evidence was open that the Committee has given everyone a chance to come and participate.
The Acting Chairperson reminded Members that the matter had been extensively discussed and Members agreed unanimously on the process to be followed in terms of allowing this matter to be given three weeks which started on the 18th of February. The Committee also agreed that the Parliament Communications Section Unit also dealt with the matter in terms of media reads on local radio and social media and also on the Parliament website. It was clearly written on the advert when the due date was, where the submissions should be submitted and the fact that if people want to make the oral presentations, they should indicate so. She failed to understand why organisations submitted to Members as individuals rather than to the Committee Secretary, referring to what Mr Bagraim said on the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry that submitted to him. In terms of who made submission or not, was not in the hands of the Committee and the Committee cannot preempt who was going to or who was not going to submit. If there are Members who know individuals who want to submit and have not submitted yet, they should conscientise those individuals; whether employer of employee organisations to submit before the deadline.
Mr Bagraim said as an oversight body, the Committee has the responsibility to go to the organisations that the Committee knew would want to make submissions. When asked, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the biggest Chamber of Commerce in Africa, said they did not know they had to submit to the Committee Secretary. It showed that maybe some unions did not see the advert. The Committee has nothing to lose by sending emails to unions and related bodies.
Mr Moteka (EFF) said he was aware of the agreement, but said he was not happy about three weeks since it was not enough to consult the whole country and its nine provinces. Rushing will always leave people behind and the Committee cannot be leaders when they leave people behind because they are in a rush. He questioned why Members are so interested or talking about COSATU as it had been part of the decision at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). He described COSATU as a contra-revolutionary organisation and said their inclusion will not change anything.
The Acting Chairperson said there was an agreement in terms of the program going forward. The Committee will wait and revert with something on Monday via the emails.
The Committee Secretary said the Committee will use the coming week to deal with these things. The 19th has since changed because there had been much controversy on the date. On the 20th of March, individuals will be making oral presentations and the 22nd and 23rd of March will also be used. The Committee will receive the notices as normal with regard to times and venues.
The Acting Chairperson said that before Members had agreed on the 19th pending the approval by the Chair of Chairs but it was not approved. The Committee will now meet on the 20th, 22nd and 23rd. Members are not time bound in terms of those days and members can work as late as is needed in order to effectively perform the duties.
Mr Bagraim said it was short notice to notify the individuals who are going to make oral submissions on the 16th that they have to do so either the 20th, 22nd or 23rd. No one was going to be available. It was a real rush especially for people who have to travel and it was reckless.
The Committee Secretary said that after receiving and acknowledging the submissions, those who submitted oral submissions will be notified that they must be ready to be called as from the 20th on Tuesday.
Mr America said that since the Committee was dealing with three pieces of legislation that are going to be there for a very long time and will have a major impact on the labour legislation landscape; the Committee was rushing and was negligent of its duties to make sure that it provided a fair opportunity for interested parties to present. Participation was a basic concept of participatory democracy in the South African Constitution. The Committee was not doing justice to those who have to travel and make accommodation arrangements. He proposed that the date must remain a proposal.
The Acting Chairperson said that it was clear as said by the Committee Secretary that on the 20nd, the Committee will start with the oral submissions if there are any. If there was need to proceed on the 22nd and the 23rd, it will happen like that and it all depended on how many submissions will be submitted. The program cannot be reviewed.
Mr Bagraim disagreed with the program and said there are only two people who wanted to make an oral submission to the Committee in the whole country. Neither of those individuals are large institutions. He requested that the position of not agreeing should be very clear in the minutes.
Mr W Madisha (COPE) asked if it was not feasible to shift to the 20th and to make it on the 22nd and 23rd to accommodate the DA as well as COPE as some meetings for the mentioned parties are scheduled that day as well. This is also meant to accommodate Members who attend other committees.
Mr Moteka said the Committee was dealing with a very sensitive and important issue. He encouraged Members to forget about political parties and to work as one committee that was there to serve the whole community of labour. There was no need to rush and two oral submissions for the whole country were not doing justice to the people of South Africa. He proposed to start on the 22nd as submitted by Mr Madisha.
Ms Theko encouraged Members to come and work and just put everything else aside. She disagreed and said it should start on the 20th.
The Acting Chairperson said the Committee was definitely going to meet on 20 March 2018 to receive the submissions from the content adviser then reserve the presentations for the 22nd.
Mr Bagraim said the Committee was doing an absolute disservice to the country.
The Acting Chairperson asked Members to agree to have meetings on the 20th, 22nd and 23rd. Everything will depend on the submissions that will be received by Friday 16th.
Mr Moteka proposed that the Committee not invite anyone on Tuesday, but Members can just come and consolidate to have a proper plan on what will be done.
The Acting Chairperson said the meeting on the 20th will also include DoL.
Consideration and adoption of minutes
Minutes dated 28 February 2018 was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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