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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 May 2000
LABOUR DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
Labour Department Annual Report
Labour Department's website: http:\\www.labour.gov.za
The Labour Department presented its annual report which encompassed its Directorates: Labour Market Policy, Employment and Skills Development Services, Occupational Health and Safety; Labour Relations; International Relations; Human Resource Management and Administration.
The Chairperson, Mr S Manie in welcoming the Director General, Advocate E R Ramashia, and his Deputy, Mr L Kettledas, said the presentation was very important since an annual report is in most instances the best barometer to measure the success/progress or lack thereof of an entity. The Chairperson encouraged the committee members to engage the department on critical issues arising from the presentation. (He immediately brought to the members' attention that because of the Director General and his Deputy's travel arrangements and other obligations, the meeting will have to be confined to an hour and a half.)
The Director General began by explaining the vision of the department with an example - two bricklayers on the construction site were each asked what they were doing, the first one said he was laying bricks, and the second one said he is building a temple. The Director General said the department identifies itself with the latter, since the function of the department is goal-oriented, purpose-driven, consistent, co-ordinated, and is a build-up to the ultimate mission of the department. From this point onwards, his presentation covered the INTRODUCTION as presented in the annual report. Mr Kettledas then presented the remainder of the document (see annual report).
Mr Maphalala (ANC) commended the department for its comprehensive annual report, and then voiced his concern relevant to Occupational Health and Safety - he sought to know whether the insurance legislation covers the labour force on construction sites and miners working underground. Referring to taxi drivers specifically, he asked whether this group falls under the jurisdiction of the department (this he asked in the light of the high percentage of road accidents involving taxis). He also wanted to know what the department is doing to restore investor-confidence, given that investors complain that South African labour is unskilled and very expensive.
The department replied that it is also concerned about the welfare of miners and construction workers and that is why it is currently devising strategies to deal with the matter as it has no injury-monitoring capacity and relies on reports from workers. Insurance cover is dealt with at Cabinet level. The taxi industry is still not legislated. The investor-confidence problem is multi-dimensional such that the issue cannot be fully addressed in one answer.
Mr Rasmeni's (ANC) wished to know about the department's interaction with other government departments and sectors (as follow-up to sector summits).
The department explained that it has been constantly engaging all relevant departments, and gave an example that it is currently working with the textile sector to devise sector strategy to deal with different problems (object of sector summit is sector-strategy development).
Ms Malebane (ANC) was concerned that the Labour Market Skills Development Programme was targeting the youth only, thus excluding women, and she also sought clarification on the exemptions the department alluded to.
The department said it is gender sensitive and therefore would look into the matter. The exemptions granted to employers (of over 500 emplyees) were from the Bargaining Chamber.
Mr Bruce (DP) commented that he did not think the department had realised any success in creating employment, improving employer-employee relationships and in luring investment.
Mr Oliphant (ANC) raised concern about vacant posts mentioned in the annual report and the sector summits that he said were far too widely spaced.
The Chairperson said given that job-creation was a key challenge, what other activities is the department engaged in to take up this challenge other than follow-ups to the Job Summit, and if the department is dismantling the old system to replace it with the new one, who and how is this implementation monitored, and how can the department ensure that appropriate training is directed at appropriate sectors and people.
At this point the allotted time had expired and the department could not respond to the issues raised. It was proposed that the committee arrange with the department that in the near future a meeting be held where only questions shall be treated by the department in the light of the large number of critical issues that could not be canvassed in one sitting.
Mr Oliphant (ANC) suggested that should such a session take place, the committee must assist the department by forwarding questions in advance so the department may prepare adequately.
The Chairperson agreed that time ought to be set aside for a special session as proposed and the committee will make arrangements to facilitate such. The meeting was adjourned.
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