International Labour Organization Conventions

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Labour

08 February 1999
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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 February 1999
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION CONVENTIONS


Documents handed out:
Proposed Programme for this committee during its last session
Convention No. 100 – Convention concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value
Convention No. 138 – Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment

SUMMARY
An outline was presented of what matters the committee should anticipate dealing with during this session and the ratification of two international labour conventions.

MINUTES
Chairperson GG Oliphant of the ANC reviewed the programme for this session. There is no legislation tabled for this committee’s consideration at this stage. However, the committee should expect to deal with the following matters:
International relations and ILO Conventions;
Budget vote(s) and Annual Report;
Five Year Programme Progress Report;
Annual Reports for IUF and Compensation; and
Skills Development Levies Bill.

International Labour Organization Conventions
Ms C Stepischnek, the Acting Director of International Relations in the Department of Labour, gave an overview of SA’s involvement with labour organization conventions. SA has already ratified seventeen labour organization conventions, including the Convention on the Freedom of Association and the Convention on Collective Bargaining.

Convention No.s 100 and 138 are currently tabled in Parliament for consideration of ratification by early 1999. Convention No. 100: Convention concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value aims to require equal pay to all workers, regardless of gender. Convention No. 138: Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment aims to prevent the employment of children below the age of compulsory school attendance. In addition to these two conventions, Parliament is also considering Convention No. 176: Safety and Health in Mines, 1995. The aim of that convention is to create and promote a safer, healthier place for miners to work.

Ms Stepischnek also described two conventions that are currently being discussed by the Social Partners in NEDLAC. Convention No. 144: Tripartite Consultation has already been earmarked for ratification. Another, Convention No. 171: Night Work Convention, aims to protect the health and safety of night workers, assist them in meeting family and social responsibilities, and provide opportunities for their occupational advancement.

After Ms Stepischnek’s presentation of the different conventions, Mr Oliphant allowed time for general questions but then wanted more specific questions posed regarding the two conventions up for discussion.

Mr JD Arendse of the ANC requested that the committee receive copies of the conventions that NEDLAC is discussing. Secondly, he asked if there would be any necessity to amend legislation as a result of ratifying these conventions. Mr Oliphant responded that any amendments that would need to be made would not occur this year. This would be an issue for the next Parliament. Mr Arendse clarified his question in that he was not concerned with the timeframe of amendments but whether amendments to legislation would be required. Mr Oliphant restated that no amendments were foreseeable at this time.

Mr Zulu of the ANC asked how Convention No. 138 addresses the issue of the employment of family members who are under the prescribed age assisting with a family-run business. He explained that he has seen the exploitation of young family members and warned the committee that it must be very careful handling this issue. Mr Oliphant responded that the committee must look at the specific language of the convention and how it deals with family members. Ms Stepischnek pointed out Article 7 of the convention and explained the flexibility provided by this section of the convention.

Dr TJ King of the NP posed a question regarding the work ethic of youth. She asked whether the committee had considered the realities of life regarding children under fifteen years of age who are prohibited from working for earnings because of this convention and resort to stealing because no food is at home. Would not it be better to allow children in such circumstances to develop a work ethic and be allowed to perform little jobs such as being a newspaper vendor? Mr Oliphant responded that the ages fifteen through eighteen is a protected age group. This group needs to be protected from exploitation, particularly from the entertainment industry. Mr Oliphant continued that the definition of "employment" does not necessarily include instances where a child sits behind the family’s corner shop after school. Mr Zulu warned once again that he has seen instances of the exploitation of family members in such circumstances.

Mr Arendse pointed out the fact that 48 years had passed since Convention No. 100 had been introduced. Mr Zulu responded that it is better late than never to ratify such a convention. Mr Oliphant reminded the committee that due to the unfortunate history of SA, it was possible for such a convention not to be ratified but now believes that "our hearts are in the right place."

Mr Oliphant asked the committee if everyone supported the ratification of Convention No. 100 and everyone agreed. He made the same motion for Convention No. 138 and the committee agreed on that as well. Therefore, both conventions were agreed upon by the committee in terms of Chapter 14 International Law, Section 231 (International agreements) of the Constitution and Mr Oliphant signed the document.

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