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Taking Parliament to People, and People to Parliament
ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS & TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
12 September 2000
SOUTH AFRICAN WEATHER SERVICES BILL: DISCUSSION
Documents handed out:
- Submission by NEHAWU on the South African Weather Services Bill (Appendix 1)
- Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Agentisation High Level Workplan
- The Conservation of South African Seabirds, with special reference to the role of international instruments
The Committee heard a presentation from the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). NEHAWU had key concerns on the transformation of the Weather Bureau and past and current human resource management problems. They believed that the agentisation process should not continue until the transformation concerns had been addressed.
With specific regard to the South African Weather Services Bill, NEHAWU had specific concerns and suggestions. Key to these concerns was that the bill did not include sufficient social responsibility clauses. The agentisation and expansion of income base through the provision of commercial services should happen, however the public service nature of the weather services should not be undermined.
After much debate on issues of agentisation and transformation, the Committee agreed to meet the following week on the matter. The Chairperson indicated that the Minister and Director General of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism should attend, in addition to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), and Public Servants Association (PSA).
Mr John Cooper, the Coordinator of the Birdlife International Seabird Conservation Programme, Avian Demography Unit, University of Cape Town, briefed the Committee on the status of South African Seabirds and reviewed three specific international conventions that may be applied towards their conservation. They are the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention or CMS), the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention), and the International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (The Conservation of South African Seabirds, 3).
NEHAWU submission the South African Weather Services Bill
NEHAWU was represented by Mr Mark Majodina and Mr Mark Sweet. Mr Majodina began the briefing by highlighting the history and current status of human resource issues in the South African Weather Bureau (SAWB). (The presentation can be found in Appendix 1 below).
Mr Sweet continued the presentation by highlighting key concerns with relation to the Bill and the agentisation process. (The key issues can be found in the presentation document in Appendix 1). The key concerns raised were:
- The agentisation process should not continue as a parallel process to the resolving of the transformation issues that need to be addressed.
- The Bill does not include strong emphasis on the need for the weather services to maintain a strong social responsibility focus.
- The role of the weather services in terms of a development resource for other countries in the southern African region was not mentioned in the bill.
- NEHAWU supported the initial cabinet position of creating a weather service structure capable of expanding its income base. However the current structure as outlined in the Bill was not supported.
- The main source of funding for the weather service should remain the state.
Mr Sweet proceeded to outline the key changes NEHAWU was proposing to the Bill. (These proposals are outlined in the NEHAWU presentation.)
Ms Mbuyazi (IFP) asked them to clarify their position on the inclusion of social responsibility issues within the Bill. Mr Sweet referred the Committee to the submission which outlined the additional clauses NEHAWU would like to see in the Bill.
Ms Semple (DP) asked for clarity on the issues with respect to state security. NEHAWU replied that there were key issues with regard to access to extremely powerful computer systems that had operating potential, for example, to simulate nuclear explosions.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) noted that NEHAWU had gone rapidly through their presentation as they had been asked by the committee to limit their time. He noted however that the human resource problems the union had with the Department were serious, and asked NEHAWU to go into a little more detail.
NEHAWU took the Committee through some of the key issues that were contained in their submission, providing more of the detail.
The Chair stated that these were serious issues. The impression had been created that there were people not qualified for the higher posts. However it seemed from the NEHAWU presentation that qualified people had been overlooked.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) reiterated that this was a serious issue. It seemed that there were previously disadvantaged people qualified to be meteorologists, but who were being kept at technician level. He believed it was necessary to get a job description of the various posts, and see how the jobs differed and why people who were qualified were not being promoted to meteorologists.
In relation to the NEHAWU submission, members of the Committee expressed concern at the process through which staff members from the former TBVC states had not been allocated work and had their job descriptions change. Members of the Committee noted that this led to a loss of work experience and frustration at being qualified for work that was not given to them.
Ms Semple noted that the current proposal with regard to the transfer of staff to the new weather service's structure from the current weather bureau included the provision that senior management would need to reapply for their jobs. She asked whether, given the complaints by NEHAWU, the entire staff structure should reapply to allow for a transformation.
A forecaster from the Cape Town International Airport noted that the concern expressed by NAHAWU with regard to the promotion and qualifications of technicians and meteorologists was not only a problem within the weather bureau. He explained that the problem arose from a review of qualifications that had occurred a few years in the past. The qualifications level relevant to the sector had ratings of Related Value Qualification (RVQ) 13 and 14. The RVQ 13 rating was for people with three years tertiary education, while the RVQ 14 was for people with four years tertiary education, normally a honours degree in Science. The review established that the Technikon diploma for the meteorological sector, which had previously been a RVQ 13 level, was the equivalent of the RVQ 14 qualifications. Therefore many technicians around the country were entitled to a better package within the public sector due to the upgrade. However, there was no category within the public sector employment rating to enable these people to be upgraded. The issue was therefore a bigger issue within the general Department of Public Services and Administration (DPSA) and the Public Servants Association (PSA), and not limited to the weather bureau.
Ms Verwoed (ANC) asked whether the agentisation process would be able to solve the problem.
NEHAWU responded that part of the problem is that staff from the previous core of the weather bureau were sitting at a higher salary level as a result of the upgrading. However, those from the previous TBVC states had not been upgraded. Therefore it looked like the issue was not that simple, but had a race element to it.
Ms Semple (DP) commented that the aim of the Bill was agentisation, and not necessarily transformation. She asked whether the transformation issues and human resource issues would not be covered by the Labour Relations Act after agentisation, and therefore the new weather service would have to address the issue.
NEHAWU noted that the issue had been raised with the previous Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, who had signed a legally binding agreement to follow up on the issue. However that had not happened. That was why NEHAWU had put in a notice of dispute to the Public Servants Association bargaining council.
In response to an earlier question from Ms Semple NEHAWU stated that there was very little representivity at the upper levels of management, which was why the current proposal was that during the agentisation process the upper level of management would need to reapply for positions. However, NEHAWU would return to their members and consider the suggestion by Ms Semple for the entire staff to reapply.
Mr McNamara (DP) noted that NEHAWU were proposing that the public service should be excluded from having to pay for the weather services information. He asked whether this included parastatals such as the South African Airways (SAA), or the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). NEHAWU replied that it believed organisations within the public service, such as the various government departments, the Defense Force, and similar bodies should not have to pay for services. However organisations such as SAA and the SABC with their own non state revenue resources should have to pay for services.
Mr Swart (ACDP) noted the NEHAWU suggestion that organised labour should be assigned a seat on the board of the proposed new weather services. He asked whether NEHAWU had suggestions as to the number of board members and the allocation of seats, and whether the inclusion of labour was not covered by the selection allowing stakeholders to be board members.
NEHAWU replied that the Minister was responsible for appointing the board, and believed it would be done fairly and did not think it was appropriate to prescribe to the Minister how many seats would be allocated to labour or any other group. In addition, labour was directly involved in the provision of the services, while stakeholders could be interpreted as those outside of the direct functioning of the proposed new weather services.
Ms Verwoed (ANC) noted that in terms of threat to security were concerns over the ability of private enterprise to enter into competition with the weather service and perhaps crowd out the market and threaten the viability of the new agentised service. She asked whether NEHAWU was arguing for protection of the service for the public good. NEHAWU replied that the bill was providing for a new water service structure, that was not as closely tied to government and had a private sector element. They did not believe that the security implications of this change had been adequately considered. They suggested that the security institutions should look at the Bill. They did not have a problem with their being a monopoly being imposed on the sector for the new weather service structure. However, they firmly believed that the state needed to remain the key funder of the new agentised structure, otherwise the security implications could be undermined.
Ms Nqodi (ANC) noted that in the submission NEHAWU was stating that before agentisation could continue, the human resource issues should be dealt with. She asked whether this meant that NEHAWU was advocating that the Bill should be put on hold. NEHAWU responded that the human resource issues had been a problem for a long time, and needed to be solved first to prevent the staff simply being transferred to the new agentised structure. This would lead to the new structure inheriting the same problems. Therefore the issues needed to be solved first. NEHAWU however believed that they had a responsibility to comment on legislation in Parliament, and therefore were commenting on the Bill now while their was an opportunity to do so. Therefore as the agentisation process was linked to the Bill, their presentation had addressed key agentisation issues. NEHAWU supported agentisation, but not in the current format as contained in the Bill. In particular, schedule two needed to be redrafted to ensure that state departments do not have to begin paying for weather services. The revenue base of the weather services needed to expand, however the state must keep its regulatory role.
Department's response to Agentisation
The Chair asked the Department to present the breakdown of the current structure and qualifications of the staff of the Weather Bureau. Mr Madison, the project manager for the agentisation process, noted that he supported the concerns and many positions of NEHAWU.
He referred that Committee to the agentisation plan. At present there was no direct plan for dealing with the transformation issues, but that these would be dealt with in a preparatory workshop in the next few weeks. He pointed out that the plan included in it a process for dealing with the transformation issues before agentisation, during the process, and after the weather services had been agentised. He noted that he was directly responsible for the transformation issues within the overarching agentisation process.
Ms Nqodi (ANC) stated that the last time the Committee had a presentation on the Bill, the Department had assured the Committee that they had consulted with the unions. Now Mr Madison stated he was happy to hear NEHAWU today. Did this mean they had not consulted before. If so the Committee did not need to be misled by a department official.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) commented that NEHAWU had made statements with regard to human resource mismanagement. He thought the department had indicated they would respond to the issues. He had not heard Mr Madison respond to the issues.
Mr Schulze, the Chief Director of the Weather Bureau, acknowledged that the human resource issues raised by NEHAWU were correct, and agreed to their interpretation of events. He stated that Ms Johnson and Mr Mashamba had been brought on board to specifically sort out human resource problems. In addition Mr Madison's work plan for agentisation would specifically look at the issues.
Mr Schulze stated that after the upgrading of the diploma qualifications, the public service personnel administration standards did not allow for the salaries of technicians to be increased. They had therefore asked the DPSA to change the code of remunerations standards. Management was therefore in full support of the salary changes for technicians which were being requested by the unions, however the DPSA would have to make the changes.
Mr Mashamba (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) noted that the personal regulation standards had to be dealt with in the central bargaining chamber, and therefore the implications across the entire public service needed to be looked at, and not just the weather bureau. A special dispensation was therefore needed to deal specifically with the weather bureau situation.
The Chair asked what the department had committed to doing. The Director General should have done a lot of work on the issue to ensure the problem was solved. As the current situation stood, the management within the weather bureau had no need to really act, as the people making the decisions were favoured by the current situation.
Ms Verwoed (ANC) asked for clarity on how many people were being affected. She asked whether there was anything in the agentisation process that required the issue to be dealt with.
Mr Mashamba (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) stated that transformation was limited by the current beaurocratic prescripts which were in place within the public service. The agentisation process would make it easier for transformation to occur. The key issue was the trust that the unions had in the management. The unions were advocating that there needed to be transformation before the agentisation. However there are budgetary constraints preventing people from being paid what they should be. The agentisation process would help to solve the problem.
Ms Semple (DP) asked who was pushing for the special dispensation.
Ms Johnson (Consultant to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) agreed that the situation as reported by NEHAWU with regard to previous TBVC staff not working was correct. The weather bureau was currently being evaluated by the consultants to try and sort out the issues. The Weather Bureau had previously been managed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism human resources unit, which was weak on capacity.
The qualifications issue had gone to the bargaining council on the previous week, and both parties were keen for an agreement. The consultants were currently looking into the history of the disputes. There was a need to look at restructuring the current structure while working within the current budget. A key issue was the transformation needed to continue without writing transformation into the Bill. As an agentised structure the Weather Services would be outside of the public services legislative environment, but would still be governed by the affirmative action white paper and labour relations legislation.
Other key issues that needed to be addressed included the legal implications of getting rid of current staff. Legally they would need to be redeployed at their current level. Issues around this process needed to still be examined. There were indications that if given an option, there were employees who would use the opportunity to go into the private sector in competition with the new structure. The new agentised structure may perhaps become dysfunctional if all employees are required to reapply, as many may leave. There were particular skills within the organisation which should be used and transferred. However, if they leave, then they might need to have ex employees return on a consultancy basis.
The Chair noted the points Ms Johnson, but did not believe that transformation should be threatened by those withholding skills. She asked for an indication of staff that were willing to be transferred, or whether there were staff holding their knowledge as ransom.
Mr September (ANC) noted that there were huge financial layouts required for acquiring data on meteorological surveys, and asked how individuals could possibly find it viable to enter into private competition.
Ms Verwoed (ANC) asked whether it was one or two people, or the whole structure that was or was not willing to be transferred.
Ms Johnson replied that it is difficult to know how many people would move or leave the service. She had done an initial survey, and the majority were willing to be transferred, but there were other individuals that were not interested in moving to a new agentised structure.
The Chair indicated that the Committee needed to know at what level those not wanting to become part of the new services were situated. It was not acceptable to say some within the structure were not wanting to become a part of the new process, without indicating at what level they operated.
Mr Schulze (Director of Weather Bureau) stated that there was excitement and enthusiasm at all levels of the Bureau about the changes. However, if people were asked to reapply, many would use the opportunity to leave. On 1st April 2001, they need to be able to deliver the services. In some of the regional offices in the past, services have had to close due to people leaving and taking necessary skills with them. It would be embarrassing if the new services could not operate on the day because of a loss of people. The new structure allows for new posts to be created, which would allow for many of the transformation issues to be addressed. In a situation where it is not possible to simple retrench people, the creation of new posts was a vital process. In terms of the developments, agentisation would also allow the weather services to contribute to the African Renaissance by allowing the skills and knowledge within the service to be used by other southern African countries. Those in the weather services were very excited and enthusiastic about all the changes. Mr Schulze personally committed himself to the change, and asked to be given an opportunity to remain a part of the new weather services.
The Chair person thanked Mr Schulze for his commitment to the service.
Ms Nqodi (ANC) was concerned however at hearing that the process of transformation should be held up by the fear that those with high qualifications would be lost. She noted that in the Eastern Cape similar fears had been experienced during previous transformation processes. Because of the serious commitment to transformation, the process had worked. The previously disadvantaged must be considered for posts where they have the skills and qualifications. The reapplication for posts was a good test to see at the level of skills that exist both within and external to the weather bureau. They could not accommodate those who hold the skills as a threat.
Mr Grove (ANC) asked for clarity on the size of the problem. Further, he noted that their seemed to be two conflicting concerns. The first was that during application people would not apply, and would move on. The second seemed to be that people were concerned that if they were required to reapply, they would not be able to keep their jobs. If the problem was the first, that skills would be lost, he asked to what extent this was a serious concern in terms of the number of people involved. In addition, to what extent was it a concern that those who leave would set themselves up in competition to the new service.
Mr Schultz stated that there was an ex-employee who had become a private forecaster and was making money in the sector. The basic information was freely available on the internet from the USA, and therefore the huge costs required to generate basic information was not a major restriction to people entering into private enterprise.
Mr Madison noted that this was part of the key reasons why the department needed to be able to regulate the sector, as there was currently no quality control on private services. Rather than not allowing the private sector to operate, the department would rather ensure they could effectively ensure quality control.
The Chair person asked for guidance on a way forward.
Mr Moss (ANC) noted that the NEHAWU submission had been made with limited time, and that it was clear that there was no clear transformation policy in the weather bureau. The concerns raised needed to be answered, and a meeting should be held with the department to solve the issues. The Chair noted however that the department was in full agreement with the concerns and that the problem seemed to be located in the SAPS employment structure.
Mr September (ANC) suggested that the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and NEHAWU needed to get together and find common ground and identify areas where they could not agree. They could then report to the committee.
NEHAWU indicated that they had no problem with meeting with the department. However, they felt that they could not have useful negotiations with the department while the planning around the agentisation of the weather services continues. The human resources issues needed to be dealt with.
Ms Johnson (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism consultant) noted that without the Bill there was no incentive to grow or change.
Ms Verwoed (ANC) noted that there seemed to be four options with regard to the Bill and transformation. These were:
- All staff were transferred, and in two year people would need to reapply.
- All staff were transferred as is, without any future reapplication.
- Staff are transferred, but senior management needs to reapply.
- All staff need to reapply now.
She said that there were many implications for each of the options that needed to be explored. She suggested the department do the research in terms of those who would leave, and brief the committee on the legal, financial and capacity implications for each of the four options.
The Chair noted with concern the absence of the PSA. She said she had requested that they attend the meeting, but had received a letter informing her that they had a conference the following day and therefore could not attend the meeting as they were making preparations. She was concerned that they had told the Committee they could not attend, as this was the highest level of government that had requested their presence. She felt that they could not proceed on the issue without the PSA being present.
Ms Semple (DP) noted that there also seemed to be concerns raised by the Aviation industry, and suggested the Committee should invite them to attend a future meeting.
Mr Grove (ANC) understood that NEHAWU had indicated that they did not think they could proceed with the Bill until transformation had been dealt with. However the department seemed to indicate that transformation could not continue without agentisation through the Bill.
NEHAWU responded by saying that planning for the agentisation process was well underway within the department. However, the Bill was the tool that would enable agentisation, and Parliament was the political forum in which the key issues of the Bill would be discussed and decided. Therefore the planning of the agentisation could not continue as a parallel process while the political discussions on the Bill were still continuing.
The Chair stated that the Committee was the ears and eyes of the public, with a mandate to sort through information and then take decisions in the best interests of the public. When asked whether they had applied there minds to the issue, the Committee will ensure that they can say that they have heard all the view points and then considered the issue and made their own decision. Therefore the Committee was listening to the department, the unions, and other roleplayers. They would look for common areas, and then move forward in terms of producing a bill that would provide for managing weather services.
She added that it was vital that the Committee hear from the Minister and the Director General of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism on the issues of transformation. The Department had committed itself to providing bursaries and actively attempting to attract people to a career in meteorological services. In addition, the Committee needed to hear from the DPS and the PSA. It was not acceptable that the PSA tell Parliament that they had something else to do. They would have been very important at the meeting.
Briefing on the threats to Sea Birds
Briefing on the threats to Sea Birds
Mr Cooper began by outlining two distinct breeding regions that most South African seabirds occupy - these include the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands in the southern Indian Ocean, and on islands and rocks inshore of the continental coasts of the Northern, Western and Eastern Provinces. Fifteen species of seabirds breed within continental South Africa and twenty-eight species breed at the Prince Edward Islands (primarily penguins, albatrosses and petrels).
Mr Cooper then focused on the conservation status of the seabirds. He said that over half (23) of the 43 South African breeding seabird species are listed in South Africa's Red Data Book as regionally threatened in one of three risk categories (Endangered, Vulnerable and Near-threatened). The risks involved include oil pollution (especially effecting the African Penguin); fishery interactions, habitat alteration and loss, and human disturbance from uncontrolled tourism and recreation (The Conservation of South African Seabirds, 2). Risks arising from fishery interactions encompass both those from direct mortality of albatrosses and petrels drowned on longline hooks and the indirect effects on food supply from over-fishing.
An example of alien predators is that of domestic cats on Marion, Dassen and Robben Islands. Mr Cooper pointed to research by the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) which showed that the population of burrowing petrels are recovering since cats were eradicated in 1991.
Although continental islands are legally protected as nature reserves or national parks, they fall under a number of management authorities, and most mainland breeding sites are not formally protected. Mr Cooper further emphasized that "domestic regulations exist to reduce mortality of albatrosses and petrels by the longline fisheries but with low observer coverage, compliance with these is report to be currently poor" (Conservation of South African Seabirds, 3). The speaker then referred the committee to three international efforts that may be useful in seabird conservation efforts.
The Bonn Convention
The Bonn Convention
Currently, all the albatross and four larger petrel species that breed within or visit South Africa are listed in Appendix II of the Bonn Convention. It is recommended that South Africa propose the remainder of the breeding continental seabirds (12 species) that share breeding ranges with Namibia to be added to Appendix II at the Seventh Conference of Parties to the Bonn Convention, to be held in Germany 2002 (Conservation of South African Seabirds, 3).
The World Heritage Convention
The World Heritage Convention
South Africa lists Robben Island as an important breeding site of the seabird population within the World Heritage Convention. The committee to the convention has also placed the Prince Edward Islands on its indicative list for nomination as a Natural Site to the Convention in 2001. This nomination intends to include a marine component, extending to the territorial boundary, which is currently lacking in the Special Nature Reserve. This should help protect those seabirds affected by longline fishing (Conservation of South African Seabirds, 3).
The National Plan of Action - Seabirds
The National Plan of Action - Seabirds
The National Plan of Action was written to address the seabird mortality rates due to longline fisheries. Several longline fisheries operating in South African continental and sub-Antarctic territorial and EEZ waters were reviewed, and all were shown to have significant levels of seabird mortality rates. Based on this finding, a contract with the Avian Demography Unit is currently being drawn up towards the development of a South African National Plan of Action regarding the conservation of seabirds. It is further recommended that South Africa attend and contribute to the FAO Consultation Meeting, to be held next month in Rome, that is considering the text of an International Plan of Action for IUU fishing (Conservation of South African Seabirds, 5).
Currently, conservation management of South African seabirds is the responsibility of a number of government agencies at both central and provincial levels. Collaboration among these bodies has occurred for a long time, but has been undertaken largely on an ad hoc basis. It is postulated that addressing the threats facing South African seabirds now requires a more structured approach, one that brings together government, academia and NGOs within a formal body. A "South African Seabird Research and Conservation Working Group" should be established, made up of representatives of interested and involved bodies, which can discuss the issues, work out priorities for action, and maintain the national and international links required for effective conservation of our seabirds (Conservation of South African Seabirds, 5-6). Mr Cooper ended by observing that the interests of tourists are changing - ecotourism is becoming more and more popular and hundreds of tourists are now coming to South Africa in order to see the different species of birds located here.
At this point, the committee thanked Mr Cooper for his presentation and concluded the meeting.
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SOUTH AFRICAN WEATHER SERVICES BILL
Objective conditions on the South African Weather Bureau
It is important to note that unlike other Chief Directorates of the Dept. of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the SA Weather Bureau has retained an all white and male top management structure from the previous dispensation. Numerous attempts to correct this situation by NEHAWU and the Departmental Transformation Unit have been frustrated by departmental Heads and the Weather Bureau management.
The SA Weather Bureau's human resources situation initially became a serious concern of NEHAWU after the integration of personnel from the former TBVC states into the national Weather Bureau in 1995/1996. The latter staff were grouped into a single large office without work facilities and job descriptions. This integration process was not even announced in a staff meeting of the Weather Bureau meeting nor were any of the new personnel formally introduced
This situation continued for a couple of months until our members started demanding work and work facilities. Key functions were then removed from their job descriptions and resulted in "job unloading". This effectively led to a situation were White technicians of same ranking were having more functions than their Black counterparts. On the contrary, a new requirement was made for black technicians to study for a further year and obtain a National Higher Diploma in Meteorology (RVQ14) in order to qualify as forecasters. Most of our members went through this exercise and completed their studies successfully, but were never correctly placed as "professional staff". They remain designated as technical staff.
Later, many of our members reported racial remarks and attitudes from their supervisors and some of their white colleagues. Some of these remarks were even reflected in the internal weekly Flashes magazine of the Weather Bureau. NEHAWU then raised these serious concerns to the Weather Bureau management who simply responded by forming a Conciliation Staff Committee (CSC) to promote a conducive work environment. NEHAWU formed part of this committee but later pulled out when the Weather Bureau management adjusted the CSC's terms of reference to prevent NEHAWU from raising labour disputes. The CSC eventually collapsed.
In 1998, NEHAWU engaged in the process of revitalizing and making the SAWB's Transformation Unit (TU) more representative. Consequently the two appointed TU officials of the SAWB in the DEAT TU, were replaced by two elected staff members (including a NEHAWU member). The two TU officials were later allowed to participate in the commercialization sessions of the monthly SAWB management meetings. This was however later halted by the SAWB management, when the union reps expressed concerns on human resources matters. At this point the Departmental TU had also ceased to exist.
In 1998 the SAWB management established the Staff Consultation Committee (SCC) which composed of staff members from different ranks and from all the SAWB divisions. The SCC was tasked with the responsibility of communicating staff concerns on the transformation, agentisation and commercialization process in the SAWB, to management. This however ended up being chaired by the Chief Director, Mr G. Schulze or Dr Hanekom (former Dep. Director General) and also became a platform for management to inform staff of the advances made in agentization (top-down approach). It is also in this committee where Dr Hanekom promised the staff a report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on the feasibility of a commercialized Weather Bureau and the different models of a Weather Bureau Agency. This report was never presented to the SCC until today although there are rumours that the CSIR proposed a model where the Weather Bureau would become a sub-structure of the CSIR.
Some relief was brought into the SCC when Mr Maclons (Acting DDG) attended a SCC meeting and suggested, after human resources concerns were expressed, that a subcommittee should be formed to focus specifically on representivity, training, career-paths. The suggestion was accepted and a request to have Mr Maclons as a permanent member of the SCC was proposed by NEHAWU and accepted. In the next SCC meeting, Mr Hanekom returned and all the previous proposals to have Mr Maclons in the SCC and also a HR subcommittee were reversed.
Subsequently, when Dr C. Olver (DG) requested speeding up of the transformation agentization and commercialisation process, the SAWB management created SCC sub-projects, which were tasked to prepare information for the consultant managers. NEHAWU suggested names of people to assist in this process. The proposal of NEHAWU was unfortunately turned down in a very subtle manner ("one must first obtain a supervisor's approval"). In the meantime, 20 sub-projects were created and only one of them was led by a Black person, while a handful were led by only one person, Mr Kees Estie (Director-Weather Forecasting).
At this stage, NEHAWU felt that they exhausted all avenues to influence the transformation process. It was clear from the latter and many other events that there was a serious deficiency on the side of SAWB management in addressing transformation. NEHAWU subsequently pulled out of the SCC and communicated its concerns to the Minister, Valli Moosa.
Minister Moosa referred the matter to Dr Olver (DG) who immediately called a meeting with NEHAWU and Mr Schulze. In this meeting, Mr Schulze denied any lack of transformation in the SAWB and instead reduced the concerns to mere perceptions. In this meeting, the DG requested a transformation strategy from Mr G. Schulze within a period of two weeks. In the next meeting, (two months later), Mr Schulze brought a delegation from PSA and presented a document on a Steering Committee to oversee the three-pronged process of agentization, commercialization and transformation. After much deliberation, NEHAWU opted to participate in this steering committee with the intention of addressing the long overdue HR problems in the SAWB.
However, during this period of negotiations with the DG, Dr Olver approved a job evaluation of the SAWB which mainly called for the promotion of the White staff members who had full technician functions in their job description unlike those of the Black staff members who were coming from the TBVC states. NEHAWU however managed to point this out to the DG (with carbon copies to the Minister and Dep. Minister) who immediately suspended this process.
The job evaluation process of the meteorological technicians that was encouraged by the Weather Bureau Management had major flaws in it. The problems that Nehawu identified in the job evaluation process included :-
* The entire job evaluation process was performed using a draft policy document.
* Some of our members did not have proper job descriptions (which are essential for job evaluation )
* The job evaluation process was a management strategy to exploit loopholes in the draft policy document and thus undermine the transformation requirements i.e.
Staff recruitment from under-represented groups in advertisments.
* The fact that duties performed by our members from the TBVC states were (and still are) unequal to those held by their white counterparts in the SAWB.
* This was a deliberate attempt by Weather Bureau Management to exclude the financial recognition of the additional RVQ14 qualifications that our members held.
It is because of these concerns that Nehawu advised all its members below the compulsory level 9, to refuse to subject themselves to a process which would have put them at a disadvantage. These concerns were raised with the Director - General in July 2000, and the job evaluation process has subsequently been suspended.
A labour dispute has also been lodged to the Departmental Bargaining Council about the pending promotion of our members who completed their RVQ14 studies, as far back as 1996, but were never accordingly elevated to professional levels.
Lack of managerial control
Lack of managerial control
Another serious concern of NEHAWU was the apparent lack of control by the DEAT top management on SAWB management. The Department failed to monitor and influence transformation of the Weather Bureau. The white- and male-only SAWB Management has been in operation since our first national democratic elections until currently, without any visible concern being shown by the DEAT's top management structure. This fact was also queried as far back as 1996 by the then Minister for Public Service and Administration, Zola Skweyiya. The leniency of the DEAT towards the SAWB was also further demonstrated when the former Director-General, Patrick Fitzgerald announced to the Departmental Transformation Unit that the SAWB was to be "ring-fenced" due to the Agentisation process and therefore exempted from the recommendations and actions of the TU. This passive control of the SAWB by the DEAT has allowed the management of the SAWB to maintain its unrepresentative composition through some extremely frustrating exercises which have been approved by DEAT authorities. It is this situation which has now fueled unacceptable levels of racial tension and animosity in the SAWB.
The SAWB management has managed to employ certain white staff members with Technikon qualifications to professional levels. Recently, the DEAT refused to settle a study debt of a Black student who had failed his studies. In the recent past, a white student who was in the same situation managed to have her student debt written off. There is also a case where the Department, in line with the recommendations of Mr Schulze refused a study leave to a Black researcher who wanted to pursue a PhD in Atmospheric Science.
In summary, the SAWB has serious HR problems, which will need to be addressed urgently especially in light of the proposed restructuring process, which is currently underway. The SAWB management has proven to be completely insensitive to the changes, which are occurring in our country. This has seriously dented the image of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in its transformation process. The approval of Weather Bureau recommendations (which sabotage the transformation process) by the DEAT needs to be thoroughly investigated and halted immediately.
This led Nehawu to state that the problems of Human resources have to be sorted out in the SAWB first, before any discussions could continue on agentisation and commecialisation.
2. Introduction to the SAWS Bill
Our submission on the SAWS Bill is informed by a number of considerations.
- As we have outlined in our introduction, there are serious and fundamental HR
problems in the SAWB, which we have as a union been trying to address since
2. The proposed new SAWS has an important role to play in the development of the
role of the state, the country and the Southern African Region. This aspect is
poorly covered in the bill.
3. There are matters of intelligence and state security, which need to be addressed
before this bill can take its passage through parliament.
4. The issue of process. Clearly parliament has requested a number of matters to be
attended to in the SAWB, especially around HR, and these have been outstanding
and not done since 1997 by the SAWB. It is therefore presumptious for the
SAWB to push this Bill through parliament, when it has in fact failed to adhere to
its constitutional requirement of implementing what was instructed by the
supervisory body (portfolio committee).
- We have called for discussions on agentisation and commercialisation to be
halted until such time that the transformatory issues of HR have been
substantially dealt with.
6. Is the decision of Cabinet in October 1998.
That the SAWB remains a state asset, operating in a parastatal environment.
That the obligations of the new parastatal be embodied in an Act of parliament.
That the governance of the new parastatal would be carried out through a board, accountable to the Minister.
That the option for expanding the revenue base of the SAWB for services provided beyond its obligations could be entertained.
7. That HR and labour relations are poorly covered on the SAWS bill.
8. That contesting forces are trying to bring the SAWS Bill forward as quickly, in an
attempt to turn the SAWB into an agent for commercialisation.
9. The Nehawu standpoint that a new SAWS is a state asset and defined as a public
entity. We do not support commercialisation and agentisation in the form it is
currently being advocated by the SAWB management.
3. Specific Content of the Bill
South African Weather Service
Establishment of the SAWS
Clause 2.2 (new)
The SAWS is proposed as a Public Entity. This has been confirmed by cabinet in defining that it remains as a state asset. It is therefore covered by the Public Finance Management Act, whose definition under schedule 3 covers Public Entity's.
The fact the SAWS Bill makes no reference to this is a major omission. Importantly it has lead to private capital trying to turn the proposed SAWS into a Public Business Enterprise. Nehawu feel it is therefore necessary to tighten up what can easily be left to different interpretations.
Proposed Amendments :-
New 2 (2) to read: - "The SAWS is defined as a public entity."
Current 2 (2) becomes 2 (3)
Objectives of the Weather Service Clause 3
Objectives of the Weather Service
Whilst the objectives of the SAWS cover a number of areas it is weak on its social responsibility and objectives of the RDP.
Proposed Amendments :-
New 3 (a) to read: - " To maintain, extend and improve the quality of
meteorological service to the benefit of all South Africans."
New 3 (h) " To involve all sectors of civil society in the planning of service delivery
to comply with the goals of the RDP."
New 3 (i) " To provide services that are sensitive to the demographic realities of the
Functions of the Weather Service Clause 4
Functions of the Weather Service
The functions lay out the role of the SAWS. It is in the area of contractual and co-operative agreements that the Bill is loose. The interests of the State and the SAWS must be the defining reason for entering these contracts.
The area of loans as raised in the bill is of great concern, and we believe that what is under the financing chapter is sufficient. Again the Bill is open-ended when referring to the establishment of companies as if this is the major function of the SAWS.
With regards State Departments, we do not believe that State departments should have to purchase services from the SAWS.
Again the social responsibility of the SAWS is weakly defined under the functions and we have proposed additional amendments.
4 (2) (a) Addition to the sentence:- "provided that it is in the interests of the SAWS
and the state".
4 (2) (b) Delete :- "alienate, pledge, or otherwise encumber"
Addition to the sentence:- "provided that it is in the interests of the SAWS and the state".
4 (2) (c) Delete the whole sentence
4 (2) (d) Delete the whole sentence
4 (2) (g) Delete the last sentence
New 4 (4) "The SAWS be structured to meet RDP objectives".
New 4 (5) "The SAWS play a leading role in its area of meteorological services in
developing the capacity of the state. This would include the provision of
quality service to the nation."
New 4 (6) "The SAWS be actively involved in the further extension and
development of Southern African meteorological services."
Chapter 3 Board of the Weather Service Board of the SAWS and its composition Clause 5
Board of the Weather Service
Board of the SAWS and its composition
The weaknesses of the SAWB in respect of HR, are carried over into the draft bill.
The exclusion of organised labour from the board is a reflection of this. Again the Bill is prescriptive in demanding private enterprise skills to be a member of the board. This fails to take into account the unique nature of the parastatal Sector and its role in enhancing the capacity and role of the state, and the important function it plays in expanding functions of the state.
With regards the chairing of the board, we believe that a politically appointed representative of the department, directly accountable to the government should chair the board.
On the functions of the Board, it is again weak on enhancing the Role of the state in terms of the state's supervisory role of the board. Again the social responsibility side
of the board is weak and we have added amendments.
New 5 (1) (d) "organised labour."
5 (2) (a) (i) Delete "corporate"
Delete " enterprise and business planning"
5 (2) (a) (ii) Delete " to clients, marketing of services,"
5 (2) (b) new (iv) to read "organised labour"
5 (3) addition to the opening sentence to read:-
"after consultation with relevant bodies, organisations and institutions to
ensure that the appropriate representation of race, gender and disability is
5 (4) to be amended as follows:-
"that the DG of the department will act as the chairperson and another
member of the board as the deputy chair, with the exception of the CEO."
Meetings of Board Clause 9
Meetings of Board
9 (3) (b) to read as follows: - " If the majority of members of the Board request a
special meeting in writing, the chairperson must convene such a meeting
within seven days after receiving the request."
9 (3) (c) Delete
New subsection 11. Functions of the Board
- Manage and steer the South African Weather Service on behalf of the
- Monitor the regular progress reports of the Chief Executive Officer on the
- Act as the Accounting Authority of the Weather Service;
- Ensure that the majority of the SA population benefits from the public
Minister to meet the meteorological needs of the State;
service goods of the Weather Service;
(e) Ensure that there is a strict adherence to the envisaged Human Resources
Development Programme of the South African Weather Service;
(f) Monitor the secondment of Weather Service staff to other institutions and
countries, and also the appointment of consultants;
(g) Ensure that the public service goods are not compromised by private
current subsection 11 becomes 12
Staff of Weather Service
Staff and conditions of service
As outlined in our introduction to the Bill, we indicated that labour relations and HR are poorly reflected in the draft Bill. Our amendments to this section therefore seek to strengthen both the legal requirements that SAWS is obliged to perform, and set out clear guidelines for sound labour relations in a future SAWS.
13 (1) addition to the sentence:- "as a result of the due process of collective bargaining with organised labour."
13 (2) addition to the sentence:- "as a result of the due process of collective bargaining with organised labour."
13 (5) addition to the sentence:- "and in consultation with organised labour."
New 13 (6) "that the SAWS will ensure a comprehensive and inclusive HRD programme, which will address career pathing, representivity and affirmative action."
New 13(7) "recognise organised labour and enter into agreements which regulate the employer/employee relationship".
New 13 (8) "set up as centralised bargaining structure for the SAWS together with organised labour".
New 13 (9) "respect for and the promotion of labour legislation."
14 (1) (a) Is it legally possible for members to remain under the GEPF when they are in a parastatal ?
Chapter 6 Financial Matters Clause 15
Under this section we are underlining the important role of the state in its responsibility towards a public entity. We have also looked at the developmental role that the SAWS will have to play in the future.
Again our concern is that unless there is a secure base of funding, and this is not commercial service, the future viability of the SAWS will not be secure. One of the major problems that have plagued all departments is the fact that in the budget they receive nominal and not real budgets. Our reference to CPIX is to ensure future financial stability of the SAWS.
New 15 (1) "the state must remain the principle funder of the SAWS".
New 15 (2) "funds of the weather service may in addition consist of".
15 (1)(a) Delete
New 15 (3) " the funding of the SAWS must take into account new areas of services such as the expansion into Southern Africa, rural development, improved service delivery and meeting RDP objectives"
New 15 (4) "the state funding of the SAWS on an annual basis should be adjusted according to the CPIX".
New 15 (6) Old 15 (3) addition to sentence "provided that these conditions are in the interest of the SAWS and the state"
Chapter 7 Transitional provisions
We have a number of amendments here, but significantly we are proposing
a transitional funding mechanism, to ensure financial stability in the interim period.
Transfer of Staff of Chief Directorate
Transfer of Staff of Chief Directorate
New 17(1) "all employees below and excluding the level of deputy director who are in the employ of the Chief Directorate immediately before the date declared by the President in terms of section 2(1), will be transferred on the said date and will be regarded to have been appointed under section 13(1) as employees of the new Weather Service on that date".
New 17 (2) "A person who is transferred must be regarded as having been appointed in terms of section 13(1) subject to the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act no. 66 of 1995)"
New 17 (6) (a) "a person appointed by the minister will be the interim CEO until a CEO is appointed in terms of section 12(1)
New sub clause:- Transitional Funding
New clause 19 "During the transitional period, a transitional mechanism is to be put into place. This mechanism should be funded at current levels and adjusted to the CPIX on an annual basis."
Chapter 8 Regulatory Control
Nehawu believes that the powers of the minister under section 27(regulations) are sufficient to cover chapter 8. We have added to the regulations contained under 27 to strengthen this.
Clearly chapter 8 is an attempt by private business to dictate the terms of a future SAWS. This duel power that is proposed in the bill we believe is unhealthy and can only lead to tensions and an undermining of the state.
The fact that the Committee would be majority private sector, with power to recommend pricing for a Public Entity is indicative of this problem.
Delete entire Chapter
Chapter 9 Regulations Clause 27
New 27 (e) "the setting of broad limits on prices of service and products of the
New 27 (f) " the level of user charges to be applied to the aviation and maritime
Industries by the weather service."
Delegation of powers and assignment of duties Clause 29
Delegation of powers and assignment of duties
29 (1) Amend 2/3rd lines to read : "in the case of an employee of the Weather Services, only duties and not powers can be assigned."
Schedule 1 Public Goods Services Clause 5
Public Goods Services
Definition of "Basic" must be clarified
New 13 "benefit subsistence farmers".
New 14 "provisioning of meteorological data to tertiary institutions for research purposes".
Schedule 2 Commercial Services Clause 2
The SANDF should be excluded from this, as well as Presidential and Ministerial private travel.
The SANDF should be excluded from this, as well as Presidential and Ministerial
The term "value-added" needs to be more defined before a decision on its location can be resolved.
To be removed and placed under Public Goods Services
Delete "state departments"
To be removed and placed under Public Goods Services
(a) The South African Weather Bureau faces serious HR problems. There is clear evidence of failure on the side of the DEAT Top Management in supervising the transformation process in the SAWB. The situation undoubtedly demands an integrated and comprehensive Human Resources Development strategy that will need to be tabled and executed prior to the agentization and commercialisation process. This HRD strategy should include representivity, training and career-pathing. A failure to address the long-standing HR problems of the SAWB at this stage will only transfer these problems to the new South African Weather Service.
(b) The South African Weather Service has a vital role to play in the development of the State, country and the Southern African region. The national benefits from the SAWS must therefore be protected, by retaining and clearly defining the Weather Service as a public entity.
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