The Portfolio Committee on Labour met to hear representations from the Phumelela Gaming and Leisure Group. The meeting was meant to include briefings from the Department of Labour and its entities, but due to load shedding, the meeting was cut short and those briefings were not able to take place.
Phumelela provided the Committee with an overview of the racing industry, its stakeholders and what it does. It rented out accommodation for grooms to the trainers who employed them, but it was not the employer of the grooms. It described some of the social upliftment programmes it undertook, as well as progress in refurbishing facilities and on increasing the wages of grooms. Some of the challenges in the grooms’ accommodation involved overcrowding, breakages and occupation, and grooms letting the accommodation to others. The Committee was also briefed on the development of the National Grooms Association and its importance, as well as the racing industry’s relationship with its stakeholders, the Department of Labour and the Department of Trade and Industry.
Members of the Committee questioned Phumelela’s institutional arrangements, stating that it was behaving like an employer and employee association. They questioned what was being done to address the low number of female grooms. Was the one percent of the prize-winning stake given to grooms reasonable? What kind of skills development was given to grooms? Did it enable them to leave the sector? Members of the Committee continued to express concern at the state of grooms’ accommodation, and the wages they were paid.
National Minimum Wage legislation: Concerns
Mr M Bagraim (DA) said he had sent a comment to the Committee secretary about an amendment which might be required in terms of the National Minimum Wage (NMW). It was not on the agenda, but he expressed his concern that the notion of the legislation being retrospective was making its rounds on social media. This would create problems and a lot of potential litigation if the Committee did not deal with it quickly. He felt that it should be included on the agenda.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Bagraim. He had had a discussion with the Committee secretary, who should have sent him a report. The Committee had to bow to the Department -- it was in that process at that time. He stressed that this was the final meeting for the year, and there was very little he could do. It was being attended to. He had met with legal services the previous day and communicated with the Minister. The legislation was from the executive. When the relevant people spoke to their policy section, the Committee would know what to do. The Committee would be briefed on the way forward. He asked Mr Bagraim to leave it at that.
Mr Bagraim said that he had a problem, as the Committee was expecting the legislation to be put in the government gazette in early January 2019. The Committee was not meeting again. There would be an expectation among the workforce that the retrospective nature of the R20 per hour would be paid to them. If the Committee decided to wait until February, it would be reckless. It should ask Parliament or the Department of Labour (DOL) to put out some sort of media release and have its response, since the Committee was not meeting again. He felt that there would be trouble. He had received letters from people saying the legislation was retrospective, and asking when workers would receive back pay, and that workers were expecting it as a big bonus in January 2019. This sent out the wrong message to the public, and for the Committee to say it would wait was not doing a service to the country. He predicted a lot of heartache and a lot of attorneys representing people demanding their back pay. As soon as it was printed in the government gazette, it became law, and as soon as it became law people could go to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to claim their back pay. The CCMA could not refuse if it was law.
The Chairperson stated that the matter was in good hands, especially given the legislative process in Parliament. There was a process of correcting things, and having a media statement was not going to change anything. The Committee needed to start the process of ensuring this matter was attended to. This was why he had approached the individuals and organisations that were responsible and influential in the legislative process. He was awaiting their comments and proposals on how to handle it. The Committee was not in a crisis. The process matters would be brought to the Committee. Unless the House Chair believed that he could convince the Committee to sit in early January 2019 or the middle of December 2018 to resolve the issue, there was nothing it could do. The legislation had been signed by the President and was now law. The law could now only be amended. He thanked Mr Bagraim for raising the issue but asked him to allow the legislative process to take its course.
The Chairperson asked if Members wanted to propose the adoption of the agenda.
Ms T Tongwane (ANC) proposed the adoption of the agenda. Ms L Theko (ANC) seconded.
Phumelela Gaming and Leisure
The Chairperson said that the Phumelela delegation did not have a formal presentation, but would rather address the Committee. He hoped that the delegation had informed themselves about the engagement the Committee had had a few weeks previously with one of the trainers. Phumelela may have been informed of the engagement the Committee had at Randjesfontein, where a female trainer had spoken to the Committee. The Committee had spoken to grooms, visited their hostels and had been reasonably informed about the sector. It had also met a representative of the grooms in Parliament. He felt that there should be a lot that Phumelela could brief the Committee on.
He assured the delegation that when it was in Parliament, it was protected. No one could take them on in terms of what was said. Committee Members expected to be told the truth. He stressed that they were not law enforcement authorities but policy makers, and needed to be informed in order to understand whether the policies the Committee promulgated produced the kinds of outcomes it wanted. Members wanted to be clear as to whether the policies were working. If there were hiccups, the Committee needed to know so that it could identify where changes were needed in the policies. Phumelela were at liberty to say if any piece of legislation was affecting them. The Committee would deliberate as to whether there was a need for an amendment. If there was not, then Phumelela needed to comply.
Mr Siza Khampepe, Director: Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, said he wanted to provide the Committee with the background of racing and Phumelela. There were three main racing companies in South Africa:
- Gold Circle, which operated in Natal;
- Kenilworth, which mainly operated in the Cape; and
- Phumelela, which operated mainly in Gauteng but had operations in the North West and Northern Province.
Phumelela was a listed racing company, operating in racing and gaming. It had approximately 1 500 employees. The major shareholders were the Racing Association (RA), which owned 33 percent; several Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) organisations, which owned 40 percent, with the rest being owned by public traders and horse owners.
Phumelela operated with several stakeholders who were independent of it. There was the RA, which had its own members. There was the Grooms Association, represented by Peter Naidoo. There were other stakeholders who were owners and trainers of horses. The grooms were employees of several trainers throughout the country. These were independent companies, independent of Phumelela.
For racing to be sustainable, and as Phumelela’s contribution to racing itself, it had built accommodation for grooms, which was a long-standing arrangement. The accommodation belonged to Phumelela and was rented out to the trainers, who in turn accommodated the grooms. In this regard, the trainers had a lease agreement with Phumelela, which had several conditions it had made submissions on. The grooms were not paying any rent, which was a condition put to the trainers. Additionally, Phumelela had come to an understanding with the various stakeholders…
At this stage, the meeting stopped because of load shedding.
The Chairperson said that the technicians were unable to resolve the electricity problem. He asked that the meeting reconvene at 12:30, when the load shedding was scheduled to end.
When the meeting resumed, the Chairperson restarted the meeting and asked the Phumelela delegation to proceed with their presentation. He apologised to them for having to stay so long, saying that the load shedding was unplanned and unexpected. The Committee was mindful of the financial resources required for the delegation to come to Parliament, so it wanted to complete the presentation. The Committee needed to be cognisant of the implications for a private entity. He asked Mr Khampepe to continue from where he left off, otherwise he could start afresh if he wished.
Mr Khampepe said that Phumelela worked in cooperation on various issues within racing. It worked with the National Grooms Association (NGA), which was a separate entity on its own. Phumelela had properties where it housed grooms which had been there for years. The main reason for having the facilities next to the race horses was for the convenience of all parties. Horses must be trained very early, so people had to be near the horses. This saved the grooms money in travelling and allowed for closeness to some of the benefits of being grooms. Grooms were people who washed the horses. Grooms went through certain life skills and levels of grading which could uplift them. When some started riding horses, grooms could become jockeys or trainers, depending on their individual initiative. This had been a joint effort of Phumelela, the RA and the NGA. This was more than social responsibility -- it was to give people opportunities.
Mr Khampepe elaborated on the accommodation. Leases were signed with the trainers. In Phumelela’s stable, there were 77 trainers. Each trainer had individual leases with valid conditions. He felt that some of the conditions created an overreach for Phumelela, where it was instructing trainers on how grooms were to be treated. This overreach had resulted in it coming to Parliament. There were several areas where it participated, including accommodation and health. It was not the employer of the grooms. Different parties, including political parties, asked it to assist since grooms were staying on their properties, but it was clear that it was not the employer, it only provided accommodation and certain benefits that could accrue out of it.
In good faith, Phumelela had to sit with the issue of the salary of the grooms, where the minimum was R750 a week. It had sat with the trainers and asked them to adjust the salaries, in the interest of racing. This was not easy, as there were trainers with means and some without. Consensus was reached, which was implemented on the Highveld, to set the minimum at R1 000 a week. It had had to sit with the trainers and remind them that trainers were the employers and that Phumelela had contracts with them in terms of leases.
He admitted that there were shortcomings with accommodation, which were being resolved. Some were maintenance related issues, while others related to the tenants themselves taking showers or taps away. Phumelela had told the trainers that this was part of the trainers’ responsibility. Going forward, it would like to improve the facilities. The board had budgeted R17 million for the next three years. Facilities did not only refer to sleeping facilities, but also to recreational facilities where grooms could play soccer. Its big challenge was the number of people staying in one room, which was often four. Some rooms had two or three people in a room. Its plan, within three years, was to see that there were only two people per room. This would be through natural attrition, resignations, and the like.
Mr Khampepe stated that the other big issue was security, which was meant to be provided by trainers. Phumelela had taken on the responsibility of setting up security through security cards with fingerprints. There had been incidents where grooms became tenants and leased out their accommodation. Phumelela could not allow this, and was following through on security.
Its relationship with the NGA and the RA was ongoing, and it would like to see things run smoothly in racing and contribute to the welfare of the grooms. The Grooms Association was always in contact with its members, looking at their welfare and conditions of employment before liaising with Phumelela. Phumelela had not distanced itself, but had seconded some people to ensure that what it wants to happen, happens.
Currently, all the grooms were male, which he felt was unfortunate. Phumelela had told the trainers it would like to see females become grooms.
Mr Larry Weinstein, Chief Executive Officer: Racing Association (RA), said the RA was the owners’ body, which owned 35% of Phumelela. Owners funded racing, bought the horses and gave horses to the trainers to train, paying them a monthly fee for that. This was where the trainers received the money to pay the grooms. The RA did not employ the grooms, but protected the ethos of racing which improved all aspects of racing. It tried to help, but said it was difficult for it to interfere in a private business.
Mr Weinstein elaborated on programmes the RA had developed to help grooms. There was a groom school which taught grooms about healthcare and life skills. At one stage, the RA had run education programmes, which had not been well attended because grooms were keen on working and getting involved in becoming jockeys and being involved in the work riders programme, which was funded by the RA and the trust. Over the previous ten years, seven or eight grooms had received licences to become professional jockeys. It also held grooms and work riders race meetings, where they raced on a Saturday, with one race allocated to them. There were three meetings a year with races only for work riders in the provinces which fell under Phumelela, and which were funded to ensure upliftment.
The RA was instrumental in ensuring that when a horse wins, the stakes are paid out to the owner. The jockeys, owners and trainers all get a percentage. Over the last three years, it ensured the groom gets one percent of the stake. When there are awards, the RA makes sure grooms are rewarded and included in the industry. It held soccer tournaments between the different racing centres, giving grooms the opportunity to play sport.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had approached the RA because the grooms needed a voice. The NGA was formed to give grooms a voice, and it sits on the industry liaison committee and can bring its issues to the table where everyone sits. There was place for grooms to air their grievances. This also ensured that if the trainers were doing certain things, grooms could approach the NGA and report them.
Mr Peter Naidoo, Chairperson: National Grooms Association, said he had served on the National Racing Association for 12 years, and was currently chair of the Grooms’ Association. He concurred that Phumelela was not the employer, nor was the RA. He was part of the Thekiso Agreement, signed and assisted by the DTI, which gave him leverage to work with all stakeholders in the industry. It was a good initiative, but as that had progressed there had been other encounters. In that time, the NGA had taken its place within the industry. The sole objective of the NGA was to realise a dream where grooms become stakeholders in the industry. It was important to note that grooms were now stakeholders in the industry. This gave them leverage to be addressed the same way as any other major role players in the industry. There were rules and regulations for the stakeholders to follow, who were controlled by National Horseracing Authority (NHA). Over the previous ten years, he had noticed that there was no set of rules. Incorporation of the grooms would result in rules and conditions set by the NGA under the guidance of the NHA, which was under the guidance of the National Gambling Board, which in turn was under the guidance of DTI.
Mr Naidoo said that his objectives were simple. Every groom in the country must be registered. Stakeholders must be registered. Every jockey, trainer, owner, work rider and person involved in the starting stalls, were all registered. Once grooms were registered, which was a long process, it would define and provide a set of regulations to follow. The Code of Conduct would be under the guidance of the NHA. This provided him with leverage, as the NGA, chairman to interact with stakeholders regarding living conditions. Part of his mandate was to improve living conditions and upliftment programmes involving social development, health and sports facilities.
The other objective was education. There was proof of the existence of a school which was ready to be put into action to educate the grooms on whatever the grooms required. Grooms had requested the creation of a funeral policy. Besides education, he reiterated that the RA already contributed one percent of the winning stake in any race to the grooms. He worked closely with Lungi Beni, who was guiding him on labour issues. Mr Beni been mandated by the committee to visit all centres in Gauteng. He was working closely with him and Mr Khampepe. He received their guidance and directive on what to do and how to do it. He did not embark on strikes -- he did things legally and approached the owners, employers and operators if he had problems. He goes to the racing operations manager and the executive if he had problems. He also goes to DTI to give them a complete brief of what must be done and how to do it. It would be an easy process now that he has addressed the Committee -- he would be more comfortable addressing the issues surrounding the grooms.
Mr Naidoo stressed that South Africa was part of a global racing family. He based many of his ideas on the grooms’ operations in New Zealand, England, the United States and Dubai, and felt that the local industry should take heed of them. He was in full engagement with all stakeholders regarding the grooms’ upliftment programmes and health conditions. Once Phumelela completed the renovations of the facilities, the RA would be able to educate the grooms on how to live and not to break things. He concluded by stressing that he was independent of all other stakeholders.
Mr Clyde Basel, Sales and Marketing Executive, Phumelela, reiterated that Phumelela was not an employer or joint-employer of the grooms. He acknowledged the importance of the role of the grooms in the industry. Phumelela continued to invest in the best interests of the stakeholders by providing for the living conditions of the grooms. Phumelela’s controls with trainers were through the leases it signs with trainers. Lease agreements stipulate that trainers may train horses on its property. Agreements refer to the conditions which ensure that trainers abide by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the Health and Safety Act, the Workers Compensation Act, and pay a percentage of the prize money over to the grooms. The NHA may suspend or withdraw a trainer’s license for non-compliance or inform Phumelela, which would investigate. Phumelela would work closely with the NGA to confirm the reasons for non-compliance, and if no solution could be found, the next step would be to terminate the lease with the trainer and ban them from operating on Phumelela’s property.
Mr Basel said the DOL continued to do spot checks at all its training centres and with all trainers. It engaged with NHA. Recently it had had a meeting with DOL, where the DTI, NHA, NGA and various representatives of trainers from the training centres were present, to inform them of what the intentions were to sustain the best conditions for grooms. What was agreed was that single male hostels were no longer viable, as people wanted to live with their families. They were trying their best, and had already spent more than R20 million on a facility. It wanted to put preventative measures in place, so it was not replacing things year in year out. It needed to ensure that once the investment was in place, there were measures in place to prevent overcrowding.
Dr Elijah Nkosi, Director: Phumelela, emphasised that there were various stakeholders and Phumelela could not overreach and look after the grooms. This needed to be taken into cognisance. As a board, it tried its best to ensure the grooms were treated well. There were initiatives to ensure grooms were treated well.
Mr Khampepe said that the delegation was ready to answer questions. He wanted it noted that the racing industry was going down. Its shares were down 38% from the previous year. The racing industry wanted more partners.
The Chairperson said the industry must get organised. Its interests would diminish if it remained unorganised. The message that had been established was that Phumelela were not employers. The Committee needed to speak to them. Was Phumelela aware that the industry was struggling across labour, agriculture, trade and industry and other portfolios? It had impact as a sector on many portfolios in Parliament. He noted the figure was 77 trainers. Did the delegation know Geoff Woodruff? Was it aware of the three grooms associations which existed? How were these grooms’ associations related to the national association? He did not need answers at that time.
He commented on the overreach in terms of accommodation. Were the employers doing nothing about accommodation -- not checking or doing anything? From the information it had, Phumelela was the only entity concerned about accommodation, and the trainers were not paying Phumelela anything. Why was it spending money on accommodation for people it did not employ? Was giving one percent of the stake to a groom reasonable? Did it enable a groom to buy a horse in his or her lifetime?
Ms Theko said the situation was not good when she visited, and the hostels had been bad. The DOL had reported that it had engaged with Phumelela on the issues. She asked about salaries, stating that she had been informed that some grooms were earning below the minimum wage. She noted an intervention by the Department to standardise, and it had been taken to R4 000. In terms of the NMW, it said something else. This was an ongoing process, and Phumelela was still interacting with the Department. How was Phumelela playing its oversight role? She said that there were different groomers on different salaries, but the minimum wage needed to be implemented for those who were underpaid.
Commenting on accommodation, she asked, who should take care of the buildings if Phumelela leased the premises to trainers. Leases had rules and contracts were signed with stipulations. Who should maintain the building? Who monitors that it happens? One could not have a building where people were treated like pigs. She was not comfortable knowing that horses sleep in better conditions than human beings.
Ms Theko commented on the male dominance on the industry, saying that the Committee understood that there was a lot of hard labour. It requested the introduction of women -- it was time for change. Women could do what men do, and sometimes better. She asked about the standardisation of the model for salaries, and the role of Phumelela in overseeing to ensure everyone plays their part. It was wrong to accommodate people and then neglect them. Providing clinics was also an issue, Phumelela must engage with the Department of Health (DOH). The Committee needed there to be regulations to guide the current board on how it wanted to see the industry. The industry made a lot of money and employed around 60 000 people. This was positive, despite the issues mentioned. Issues around payslips, accommodation and benefits must be resolved.
Ms Tongwane asked whether any measures had been taken to limit the number of people per room since the Committee visited. For health reasons, this had to be addressed. She asked whether the R17 million figure mentioned was for refurbishment of the hostels. If so, when would it start, or had it started already?
Ms S van Schalkwyk (ANC) welcomed the presentation for giving the Committee insight into the industry. She asked how regularly site visits or inspections were made to establish maintenance needs. How regularly were the premises maintained, given that there was mention of lots of breakages? Regular site visits would show that the places could not be left to become dilapidated. Surely one would want to prevent total dilapidation. She had been informed at a previous meeting that there were instances of people living in the facilities illegally, which could impact on overcrowding. How was Phumelela dealing with this?
She observed that the age of tenants was between 20 and 60. Phumelela provided accommodation, even though it was not the employer. If someone stayed there for 20 to 30 years, what measures were put in place? Was it liaising with relevant departments, like Human Settlements, to deal with those individuals’ accommodation needs after retirement? How was it dealing with this?
Mention had been made of different services, like recreational facilities and training. There was a chance of people not working in horseracing until retirement age. What kind of training was it making provision for? Was it in line with upward mobility? Was it ensuring that those individuals acquired skills to be employed outside of the horse racing sector? Or were grooms provided skills only to move up within the sector? She referred to the skills shortage in the country, and asked whether there was provision for artisan training? Was the training sector-specific? What were the plans to bring in and capacitate women and ensure women became more involved? Could it elaborate on upgrades to living facilities, and whether it was making provision for living quarters to accommodate women?
The Chairperson said that there was never any excuse to exclude women, especially in administration, cleaning or riding horses. He hoped that Phumelela had taken the questions down. He asked Mr Naidoo if he knew Mr Simoto and how he engaged with him. He expressed caution that when one put Phumelela as a company on the wall, one sees a company which provides facilities for racing. Then one sees it has authority over trainers and grooms. Grooms expect accommodation to be provided by it. It had the authority to instruct trainers to behave in a certain manner and comply with legal requirements. What one was seeing was a company dealing with racing and games, but also one which was both an employer association and an employee association. Maybe this was what it meant by overreach. If this was the situation, Phumelela could not run away from dealing with being viewed as an employer, or a joint employer. Phumelela must deal with its institutional arrangements, and then employers or trainers can have their own authority and account for their own actions.
The Chairperson asked Phumelela to respond to the questions, and to indicate how many trainers had had their lease agreements terminated for non-compliance. Did any jockey own a horse? He noted that seven grooms were now jockeys, but had any groom developed into being a horse owner? Was one percent of the winning stake reasonable when someone has been grooming a horse that wins two million in one race, and receives only R20 000? Could these earnings enable a groom to own a horse one day? He asked them to elaborate on the cooperation between Gold Circle, Kenilworth, and Phumelela.
Mr Khampepe said that Phumelela was dealing with complex problems which involved many stakeholders. At board level, it was trying its best to sort this out. As it was, there were extreme views from different people. Phumelela could not be everything to everybody, and did not wish to do so. It wanted to see racing succeed, and to contribute wherever it could.
One view which had come up was to sell the properties. Phumelela had looked at the dynamics of the situation, which was not simple to do. There were prospective buyers, but would what Phumelela wanted to achieve happen under a new owner? The accommodation issue was tough for Phumelela to overcome, and it could not overcome it by itself. It needed government involvement, and for racing companies to come to the party. He was not stating that Phumelela was the best of all the companies, but felt that it would be prudent to go to facilities to see what happens, and do a comparative analysis and contribute towards what the most likely situation was.
There was consensus on the question of women in horseracing. There were highly experienced female board members at Phumelela. 60% of the managers were black females. This was on Phumelela’s side, not on the groom side. He asked the Committee to bear with them. Some things were beyond them. It was hard for them to get accommodation for some grooms, and others had their own.
Mr Weinstein addressed the issue of women in racing. There were no female grooms yet, but there were female work riders, assistant trainers who sometimes groomed horses, and trainers, so it was not a male dominated sport. Not many women had come into horse racing. At academy level, there were girls training to be jockeys. It was not as if women had been excluded, but they would have to look at more female grooms. This was something that would happen.
Mr Weinstein commented on the one percent of the stake being paid to grooms. He said that the owners were the lifeblood of the industry. Every year, they spent in the region of R800 million to race for R300 million in prize money, so horseracing was not something where the owners made a profit. It cost R350 000 to buy a horse, R8 000 a month in vet’s fees sometimes, and R10 000 a month to pay trainers to train a horse. There were 6 000 horses in training. If an owner was lucky, the horse would win a race, but the owner would receive only 60 percent of the stake. Anyone could buy horses, but could people afford to groom the horses? The exorbitant costs were a problem for the industry in terms of transformation.
Grooms did become assistant trainers and measures were in place for them to improve themselves. Jockeys were paid R1 000 a ride and must pay the trainers and grooms. This made it difficult for jockeys to own horses. Owners buy the horse, trainers train the horse, jockeys ride the horse and the assistant trainer, work rider and groom work for the trainer. Everyone must be supported on the R10 000 a month which the trainers receive. Racing was a commercial venture, but unfortunately it was a battle to get people with money into racing.
The Chairperson asked Mr Weinstein not to defend the situation in case he ended up defending the indefensible. He asked him to respond whether the 1% stake the groomers received was reasonable in his view? He was not interested in the explanation.
Mr Weinstein felt that this was a start which owners had agreed to pay, since it had not been in place before and in this way grooms benefited.
He commented on the upward life skills, noting that there were no programmes in place for grooms to acquire skills to leave the sector. Grooms could become licensed assistant trainers or trainers. He agreed that horseracing was confusing with all the entities, and felt that the Chairperson was right in saying the industry needed to get organised.
Mr Naidoo said that he knew Mr Simoto very well, and had worked with him over the previous four years. Together they ran an organisation called the South African Grooms Association (SAGA). They had signed the Thekiso agreement with the DTI, where they had been asked to be representatives on the liaison committee where all the stakeholders sit. Unfortunately, Mr Simoto had not attended one meeting. Thereafter, he had signed a Memorandum of Understanding between himself, Mr Simoto and a new association called the Progressive Movement for Grooms. He had the signed memorandum of understanding with him. He had a letter of termination from Mr Simoto, stating that he did not want to be part of the Memorandum of Understanding. He had encountered many issues in his relationship with him regarding his running SAGA alone. The agreement which was signed did not last a year. His last engagement with him was that he would continue with SAGA, and that he had now joined a union called the South African Horseracing Allied Workers Union (SAHAWU).
Mr Naidoo stated that he was aware of other grooms’ associations, and of three unions which had approached him– NUMSA, the EFF union and SAHAWU. There were unions and grooms’ association. His objectives were far different. He had received a letter from the EFF asking his members to join them. He replied that he was not about members, but was rather addressing compliance issues. He found it untoward to be sent a memorandum of demand from Mr Simoto for him to meet then President Zuma, Minister Rob Davies and Mr Lebogang Maile, to take up the grooms’ issues with them.
There was a place for female grooms. Ten percent of the grooms were female in overseas racing. He was advised by the delegation sent by the Chairperson, to address the career of a groom at the high school level. This had not happened in South Africa, but must be introduced. There was a voice for female grooms, but this was a work in progress.
He concluded by stating that he was working with an advocate on health issues and a benevolent fund for grooms.
The Chairperson referred to the disorganisation among grooms, with splinter groups representing them. It was clear that trainers as employers should get organised and that grooms should do the same. There was a need for grooms to speak with one voice and bargain with their employees. Currently the Committee felt that Phumelela was a joint employer, because it was providing the services employers should provide to the grooms. There was a need to find a way to dismantle the role played within Phumelela. This was not something which could be done overnight. There needed to be a process to unbundle and make sure that Phumelela as a company did what it knows best.
The more trainers as employers become organised, the more trainers could engage with the Department, as it expected trainers to pay unemployment insurance and comply with legislation. If everything was located within Phumelela, there would be conflict, as sometimes it spoke like an employer, at other times like the grooms’ representatives, resulting in conflict. Phumelela should not speak on behalf of grooms. It may have grown into this because of the situation in a closed sector. It should be clear who the employer and employees were. Legislation had tried to harmonise that relationship. Phumelela could not speak for employer and employee.
He appealed to them to get organised, so it knew how to interact with the Department. He observed that the sector was diminishing, but said that the industry must get organised if it wanted government intervention.
The meeting was adjourned.
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