Unemployment Insurance Fund Amendment Bill: adoption

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Meeting report

SELECT COMMITTEE ON LABOUR AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISES

LABOUR AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISES SELECT COMMITTEE
8 October 2003
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FUND AMENDMENT BILL: ADOPTION

Chairperson:
Ms Nkuna

Relevant Documents:
Unemployment Insurance Fund Amendment Bill [B35-2003]
Skills Development Amendment Bill [B46-2003]

SUMMARY
This meeting was convened to adopt the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill in the second house. The committee decided against allowing COSATU to make a submission concerning the Bill at this late stage in the proceedings. The Bill was adopted without further amendments.

MINUTES
Ms Nkuna asked whether the Committee the submission by COSATU should be heard. Mr Makhonto (Commissioner of the Department of Labour) and Mr Tolo (ANC) held that it was not necessary as COSATU had had adequate time prior to the meeting to have their submission heard. The Committee therefore did not hear COSATU's submission. Mr Makhonto presented the proposed amendments to the Bill.

The Chairperson moved to adopt the Bill if there were no further questions. The Bill was therefore adopted by the Committee without amendment.

Discussion
Ms Nkuna said that as the Bill had already been dealt with extensively at a prior meeting, it was unlikely to require much further discussion by the Committee. She said that despite this fact, it had come to her attention that some stakeholders would still like to make submissions to the Committee concerning this Bill. She asked the Committee and the representative of the Department of Labour whether they agreed that COSATU should be given the opportunity to make its submission.

Mr Makhonto (Commissioner of the Department of Labour) said that the Constitution required that everyone had a right to be heard. The Department had consulted with COSATU at a previous meeting, held in terms of the NEDLAC Act, where the Bill was accepted unanimously. COSATU had made a submission to the Labour Portfolio and, following their submission, the Bill was accepted without amendment by the committee. Therefore if COSATU was not making any new submissions, it was not necessary to hear from them again.

Mr Tolo (ANC) agreed that if NEDLAC protocol had been followed, there was no need to consider COSATU's submissions again.

Ms Nkuna concluded that as protocol had been adhered to, the Committee was following the correct action in not hearing from COSATU. She asked COSATU to approach the Department of Labour if there were still issues needing consideration. She said that such issues may prompt further amendments. She apologised to COSATU but noted that they should had raised their issues earlier. Ms Nkuna then asked Mr Makhonto to briefly go over the proposed amendments.

Mr Makhonto stated that the Department proposed deleting the definition of the CCMA in the principal act as the CCMA was to be replaced by Regional Appeals Committees in matters concerning dissatisfied beneficiaries. Furthermore, Mr Makhonto proposed the deletion of the definition of "seasonal worker" as this distinction was no longer necessary in law.

Mr Makhonto said the Department proposed excluding those who hold learnerships in terms of section 18 of the Skills Development Act and those public servants as they are defined in the Public Service Act from the Bill's coverage. Additionally, the Department proposed excluding pensioners from having to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Mr Makhonto said the law required amendment as it presently required pensioners to contribute to the Fund when they were not allowed to claim benefits from it.

Mr Makonto said the amendment to section 11 of the principal act was proposed to bring the act into line with the Public Finance Management Act that required the Commissioner of the Department as opposed to the Minister to compile a business plan. He said the amendment to section 12 of the principal act was to introduce the concept of partial unemployment. He said a person became partially unemployed if the person was in the employ of a number of employers but subsequently he or she lost one of his or her jobs.

Mr Makhonto said section 13 had been proposed to enable the Department to calculate the benefits owed to a partially unemployed person. He said that section 16 had been designed to deal with domestic workers who become unemployed as a result of the death of their employer.

Mr Makhonto said that sections 21, 24 and 27 had been introduced to streamline the possible benefits that claimants could receive. He stated that these sections aimed to remove the less favourable benefit option. He said that section 36 had been proposed to give the Minister the power to appoint Regional Appeals Committees to address aggrieved beneficiaries.

Ms Nkuna asked if there were any questions concerning Mr Makhonto's presentation. There were none.

Ms Nkuna read the motion of desirability. It was agreed upon.

The Committee then agreed to all of the clauses of the Bill.

The Bill was therefore adopted in the second house.

Ms Nkuna asked the Committee whether the Committee wanted the bill to proceed to a plenary hearing or whether she could issue a statement saying that the Committee was happy with the Bill.

The Committee agreed that there was no need for further debate and that a statement, to the aforementioned effect, could be issued by the Chairperson.

The meeting was adjourned.

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