Progress Report on the implementation of the Five Year Plan

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Employment and Labour

23 March 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

23 March 1999

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Chairperson: Mr Godfrey Oliphant (ANC)

This was the last meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Labor for the 1994-1999 government era. The chairperson spoke of his satisfaction with the wonderful working relations the committee members had enjoyed as well as their achievements. He thanked the Department of Labor in helping the committee to pass more than twelve laws including the Nedlac Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Integration of Labour Laws Act. The committee hopes that the incoming committee will enable proper implementation of the policies that have been introduced.

The Chairperson welcomed members to this last meeting. He voiced his concern about the day’s poor attendance, especially on the part of the NNP, DP, and the FF. He thanked everyone for working smoothly together over the past five years.

The chairperson would have a written report about the activities of the committee to date ready hopefully before the end of the week so that committee members will see it before going on recess. He added that the performance assessment of the committee is based on a 1994 five-year program. Members are therefore urged to look at this document during the recess period and pat themselves on the back for work well done. He extended special thanks to the committee researcher for his work in assisting the committee in mobilizing relevant issues to its agenda table.

The chairperson was pleased to note that the committee had managed to pass over twelve laws over its short period in office. These included the crucial Nedlac Act of 1994. This act was a good move in terms of introducing a tripartite alliance between the government, labor and business. The Committee also passed the Integration of Labor Laws Act of 1994. There are many other Acts of which those mentioned here are just a few. The committee was tested in the process which is why it treasures its achievements.

The integration of the Department of Labor personnel was the starting point. This had been an all white department in terms of personnel. The committee is pleased with the transformation of the department.

The chairperson said that one other test the committee had to pass was the issue of rubber stamping Nedlac issues. The committee had to avoid rubber stamping all laws that Nedlac produced and pass only those laws it felt it should approve.

He commented on the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1999 which was implemented late last year and which set out the minimum benefits for all sectors of the labor force.

As regards the Employment Equity Bill, he said that there is now a move by companies to look at employing Blacks and women in order to comply with the legislation. In the process they also recruit those who are unemployed in order to meet this legal requirement. He hoped that people do not engage in window dressing in this process but that proper ethics be established in the near future. There should also be a progress update in terms of the implementation of the changes the committee has introduced.

In concluding his report, he hoped those who will be returning to parliament will find helpful the working foundations laid by this committee. The Chairperson then opened the floor to committee members for comments:

Dr King (NNP): On behalf of the NNP I would like to thank you as a person for your chairing skills which made everyone’s life easier. One may not always agree with everything you say but you have treated all of us equally and I am pleased to hear that you are not retiring. Your work as a chairperson has been what I feel a chairperson is supposed to be and we hope to see you again in the next parliament if circumstances allow most of us to be there.

Prince Zulu (IFP): I also thank you for working with us in the wonderful manner that you did. You have been a terrific Chairperson.

Mr D Nkosi (ANC): The fact cannot be ignored that the department is well organized. I think that has helped this committee to be the same. The laws passed through the committee are very progressive.

My concern would be the department’s concern about the high costs of implementation of our good legislation. The tendency to solve high costs of implementation is usually to amend good laws. I have to request that if any of our good laws are to be amended, that we recommend to the incoming committee that they be done on a trial basis only.

Ms E Thabethe (ANC): Chairperson, when we first came to this intimidating institution we were concerned if we were to make it. We at the ANC would like to thank your leadership skills which assisted all of us to cope. You have been impartial and helpful. My only concern would be the implementation of our good work by the incoming committee and I hope it would be properly implemented.

Ms W Mayinele (ANC): I also have to thank you for your leadership skills. You managed to get us to work as a family despite our separate party ideologies. As we are separating we feel that we will miss each other as brothers and sisters.

Mr B Fihla (ANC): As a captain of this team, I would say that you have managed to keep the ship aboard throughout our five-year journey.

Mr A Blaas(NNP): We have passed the basic transformation laws for a newly democratized country. I can only hope that they get proper implementation by the incoming committee. Yes, chairperson, as most members have mentioned, you have been a good chairperson.

In his closing remarks, the chairperson thanked Ms S Rabinowitz of the Department for her outstanding and committed hard work.


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