Department of Labour and related statutory organisations: workshop

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Meeting report

041012sclabour

LABOUR AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISE SELECT COMMITTEE
12 October 2004
LABOUR DEPARTMENT AND RELATED STATUTORY ORGANISATIONS: WORKSHOP

Chairperson: Ms D Ntwanambi (ANC)

Documents handed out
Department of Labour Strategic Plan
Nedlac Executive Director’s Report
Nedlac presentation
CCMA presentation
National Productivity Institute presentation
Umsobomvu Youth Fund presentation
Department of Labour Policy and Market Programmes

SUMMARY
The Department of Labour outlined their Strategic Plan for 2005-2009. The emphasis was on aligning the Department’s strategy with the government’s Growth and Development Plan. Some of the priority areas were the protection of vulnerable workers such as taxi drivers, casual workers, and informal workers. They wished to achieve financial sustainability for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and a reduction in workplace fatalities. The Department viewed the inclusion of most workers in collective bargaining as a long-term objective. Statutory bodies such as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and the National Productivity Institute (NPI) were expected to play a crucial role in service delivery.

Major concerns raised by Members included that the CCMA had only focussed on urban areas and had neglected rural workers, while the Department had been neglecting farm evictions. Members were also concerned that very few people knew about Nedlac and that it had not been facilitating the establishment of a Basic Income Grant. The NPI were only now starting negotiations with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (NACTU) and the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) with a view to future co-operation.

MINUTES

Department of Labour briefing
Mr Les Kettledas, Department Deputy Director-General: Labour Policy and Market Programmes, reported that the Department had planned to cover as many workers as possible with Collective Bargaining especially vulnerable workers such as casual, farm, and those working in the informal Sector. Even though employers’ compliance levels with legislation had increased there were employers who were ignoring Employment Equity and National Skills Development. The Department had played an active role in bilateral forums such as the International Labour Organisation, SADC and the African Union and the Social Commission. The Department had been nominated to host the African Union Labour and Social Affairs Committee. He added that there had been an improvement of management practices within the Department, but that Employment Equity had not been properly communicated to employers. The Umsobomvu Youth Fund Voucher Scheme had concentrated on nine provinces only.

Discussion
Chairperson asked what the Department was doing about farm evictions and whether skills that were acquired through the Expanded Public Works Programme were being certified.

Mr N Sibiya (ANC) enquired how the Department identified vulnerable workers and how it protected them. He also asked about the advantages of ILO membership.

Mr D Gamede (ANC) asked what was meant by sheltered employment and about the UIF status of contract workers.

Mr D Mkhono (ANC) asked whether the Department had enough labour inspectors.

Ms Mabe (ANC) asked how the Department communicated UIF collection to employers.

Ms Chen (DA) asked what the Department was doing to communicate Employment Equity to employers.

Mr Kettledas replied that farm evictions were the jurisdiction of the Departments of Land Affairs and Agriculture, but the Department was working with them to solve the problem of farm evictions.

There were good working relations between this Department and that of Public Works. Seven hundred people had benefited from learnerships that were established by the Construction SETA and the Department of Public Works. Some 100 000 people had benefited from the Vukuzenzele entrepreneur training scheme.

Vulnerable workers were those workers who were not covered by collective bargaining such as contract workers and taxi drivers, including huge sections of farm workers. Taxi personnel would have their sectoral determination and contract workers would be covered by the UIF in early 2005.

The International Labour Organisation was constituted by 177 member states. Its membership advantages were setting up Labour Relations Standards. South Africa had benefited from the experiences of member states and presently had the best labour laws in the world. Child Labour and HIV/Aids in the workplace are some of the debates that were currently taking place among member states.

Prior to 1994, sheltered employment was characterised by factories that employed people with disabilities and the finished products were sold exclusively to government departments. Blind workers produced cane furniture. Post 1994, those factories were expected to compete in an open market but some of them could not compete with cheap imports and were no longer viable. The Department had thus included people with disabilities in the Employment Equity requirements.

The Department had embarked on road shows educating employers about EE. Every employer with a workforce of 150 and above was required by law to submit a report every October. Those employers with 50 and more workers were required to submit their reports every second year. Most employers were co-operating on UIF collection and EE regulations.

There were not enough labour inspectors but the Department had been conducting surprise visits to workplaces. Workers themselves were reporting unfair labour practices like flouting Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and locking workers in factories.

CCMA briefing
Mr M Molahleki Executive Director of the CCMA reported that since its inception the CCMA had created offices in all major centres. Major focus areas were dispute resolution through conciliation, mediation and arbitration. Most cases were from retail, domestic, private security and agricultural workers. It was clear that the extension of a sectoral determination to farm workers and domestic workers had exposed the problems faced by those sectors. Over the past eight years, 80% of cases concerned dismissals and the people affected were not represented by trade unions. 70% of cases were settled by conciliation. The strategic focus for 2005-2007 was to implement a performance management system to ensure adherence to all dispute resolution requirements. The CCMA had begun generating income from specialised services. Research institutions had established links with the CCMA. One of the major successes was the Labour Relations education training and development capacity for shop stewards, lawyers and commissioners.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked why the CCMA had been ignoring vulnerable rural workers by situating offices in urban areas only.

Mr Sibiya asked from where the CCMA got its mandate.

Mrs Mabe enquired about the number of Commissioners employed by the CCMA.

Mr K Sinclair (NNP) asked what the CCMA was doing about communication to complainants and what steps were they taking to solve that problem.

Mr Gamede raised a complaint that CCMA offices were not accessible. He provided an example in northern Kwazulu-Natal where offices were in Richards Bay instead of a busy centre like Empangeni.

Mr Molahleki replied most factories and workers were situated in urban areas and the bulk of cases were coming from urban workers. Statistics for the past years had indicated that the bulk of cases came from Gauteng, the Western Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

He added that the CCMA got its mandate from the Labour Relations Act and that it had 200 Commissioners but some of them were part-time. Training courses were provided by the CCMA and trainees were required to achieve 60% to pass.

Some people who had submitted cases did not know their employers’ address. Other people were living in informal settlements with no proper addresses while others were illiterate. The CCMA had been informing employers to write their addresses on notice boards and other accessible places for workers. A new system was developed which would send Short Message Service (SMS) to people about the progress of their cases.

Mr Molahleki explained that it was impossible for the CCMA to be in every town. They had started to send Commissioners to centres such as George in the Southern Cape. Statistics had shown lot of cases came from those areas.

Umsobomvu briefing
Mr Malusi Kekana, Chief Executive Officer of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF), reported that the UYF had provided opportunities for black youth under the age of thirty-five. Umsobomvu focussed on youth entrepreneurship programmes, skills development and counselling. Women had been the largest group of beneficiaries. 81 000 young people had participated in Youth Advisory Centres. A major achievement had been a partnership with First National Bank, which had invested R140 million, and R25 million from Business Partners. The Fund’s plans for 2005 were to accelerate the school to work programme that provided matriculants and graduates with work experience.

Mr Kekana said South Africa ranked very low in entrepreneurship when compared to countries like India and China. The UYF had aimed to increase entrepreneur skills and opportunities for young people using the Voucher Scheme that had begun in five provinces.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked how the UYF related to Local Economic Development (LED).

Ms Mabe asked when the remaining Provinces would be included in the Voucher Scheme.

Mr Sinclair enquired about the relationship between Umsobomvu and the National Youth Commission.

Mr M Kekana replied that Umsobomvu had been working with LED’s on community facilitation and research. The government eventually employed about 50 young people who were forwarded by the LED’s.

Umsobomvu had begun with roadshows promoting the Voucher Scheme and the first stop on October 20 would be the Free State Province.

The UYF was working with the National Youth Commission on the Driftsands Nature Reserve project. Young people were learning skills that would enable them to make a living in ecotourism.

Nedlac Briefing
Mr Herbert Mkhize, Executive Director of Nedlac, reported that Nedlac was a tripartite forum comprised of delegates from business, labour and the government. The purpose of the forum was to address poverty, unemployment, economic stagnation, equality and globalisation. The Nedlac Act of 1994 further refined those objectives into sustainable growth, greater social equity and increased participation in economic decision making at all levels. There were over 100 agreements reached at Nedlac by 2004. Those agreements demonstrated that South Africans were committed to interaction between parties even though there were disputes sometimes. Major challenges were addressing the investment challenge, promoting equity and skills development and policy co-ordination. Social dialogue was a process and not an event. In a brief survey undertaken by Nedlac, asking people what they knew about the organisation, less than 20% of the respondents had heard about Nedlac.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked why Nedlac had no provincial structures and what its position was on the Basic Income Grant (BIG).

Mr Gamede enquired about what was done about Nedlac’s poor communication strategy.

Mr Mkhize replied that Nedlac had no provincial structures because they were dealing with macro economic issues. Four Provincial Governments had initiated Provincial Growth and Development Summits to give impetus to economic growth in their provinces.

The relevant stakeholders at Nedlac had not been pursuing the BIG issue, because the office bearers like the Executive Director had no mandate to raise such issues.

Nedlac had been devising a communication strategy that would use conventional and non-conventional means of communication to reach a wider section of the population.

National Productivity Institute briefing
Dr Y Dladla, Executive Director, reported that the NPI was a tripartite body dedicated to the development and enhancement of South Africa’s productive capacity. That was done through research information, dissemination, training facilitation, consultation, auditing and monitoring of all productivity issues and challenges. Strategic focus areas for the NPI were skills development, sound labour relations, improved economic efficiency and national productivity research and performance monitoring.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked what the relationship between the NPI and other labour federations was.

Dr Y Dladla explained that the NPI had been busy negotiating with the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and the National Confederation of Trade Unions (NACTU).

The meeting was adjourned.

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