National Economic Development and Labour Council Three-Year Strategic Plan and Budget: briefing

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Labour

14 March 2006
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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 March 2006
NATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND LABOUR COUNCIL THREE-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
NEDLAC Three Year Strategic Plan and Budget for the period: 2006 – 2008
NEDLAC Presentation on the Strategic Plan and Budget: 2006 – 2008

SUMMARY
The National Economic Development and Labour Council briefed the Committee on its three-year strategic plan and budget for the period 2006 to 2008.

Members raised questions about the implementation of the Growth and Development Summit agreements, casualisation in the workplace and vital staff vacancies in the Council.

MINUTES
National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) presentation
Mr H Mkhize (Executive Director) briefed the Commitee about NEDLAC’s three year strategic plan and budget for the period 2006 – 2008. His delegation included Dr Elize Strydom, representing the business constituency; Mr Sizwe Setshezi, representing the community constituency and Mr L Kettledas, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Labour.

Mr Mkhize argued in his presentation that NEDLAC had, in ten years, helped to deepen democracy by contributing to the development of key legislation, setting up major institutions and providing a framework for policy to be developed. He concluded that, as a result, South Africa had captured the need to find an institutional voice for workers, business and communities much better than other countries.

Dr Strydom remarked that she was honoured to address the Committee on behalf of business with regards to NEDLAC’s plans. She pointed out that business regards NEDLAC as a very important institution. Business firmly believes in social dialogue, and NEDLAC is a very important institutionalised way of engaging not only with government but with all other social partners. She assured the Committee that business valued NEDLAC and would continue to use it to engage with its social partners.

Mr Kettledas explained that prior to the establishment of NEDLAC, there were quite a number of forums for social dialogue. However, with the establishment of NEDLAC in 1995 social dialogue was institutionalised. Mr Kettledas further explained that what makes NEDLAC unique as a social dialogue institution is the fact that it consists of members who represent organised business, organised labour, organised community organisations and the State.

Mr Kettledas pointed out that since its inception, NEDLAC had concentrated on facilitating social dialogue around government policies, including all labour legislation. That was extremely meaningful to the labour movement. He added that labour legislation passed since 1994 was supported and observed by all stakeholders. Labour demonstrations and industrial action now occurred in a procedural manner that has added to economic stability.

Mr Mkhize explained that before making the presentation of NEDLAC’s three year strategic plan and budget, it was important to locate NEDLAC within a particular context. He pointed out that NEDLAC was established with the aim to make sure that the people governed. From the outset, NEDLAC espoused democratic and human values as a basis for decision making. Transparency and consensus-seeking inclusivity are the main components of the NEDLAC philosophy on major economic, social and development policy matters.

Mr Mkhize remarked that NEDLAC’s three year strategic plan for the 2006 – 2008 financial period is underpinned by the understanding that social dialogue occurred within a dynamic national, regional, continental and global landscape and as such, reflected the evolving role of the Council in social and economic development in South Africa. The overarching framework of the strategic plan is built on the 2005 National Growth and Development Summit Declaration which committed the NEDLAC social partners to, among other things, accelerate the implementation of the Growth and Development Summit (GDS) Agreements.

Mr Mkhize pointed out that NEDLAC is financed by the Department of Labour. From the funding NEDLAC receives from the Department of Labour, about 31% goes to salaries and wages. He said 23 posts had been budgeted for. He explained that the drive to give effect to the GDS Agreements had led to more NEDLAC processes which had in turn resulted in extraordinary meetings being called. The trade and industry chamber has in excess of eight task teams dealing with a number of GDS related issues. Unlike the normal Chamber meetings where most of the people travelled more or less from around Gauteng, the task teams often brought in specialists, locally or from outside Gauteng, which had huge cost implications.

Discussion

Mr M Mzondeki (ANC) asked for details on how NEDLAC planned to achieve some of its goals, for example the implementation of the GDS Agreements.

Mr Mkhize proposed that one of the future meetings with the Committee should be set aside to deal with just one or two issues, rather than all issues at one. NEDLAC’s progress with implementing the GDS Agreements should form the subject of one of these more focussed meetings.

Mr E Mtshali (ANC) asked for clarification of NEDLAC’s plan to deal with casualisation of workers in supermarkets, where workers who in certain cases have been working for over 10 years are still casuals with no benefits.

Mr Mkhize replied that NEDLAC was dealing with the issue. He pointed out that there were a number of factors that needed to be taken into consideration when dealing with this issue. A factor like globalisation should for instance be taken into account. He undertook to keep the Committee informed of how NEDLAC was dealing with this and other issues.

Mr S Siboza (ANC) asked for an explanation for the vacant post of Communication Coordinator at NEDLAC. Was this vacancy impeding some of NEDLAC’s objectives in light of its objective of clarifying and communicating the role and purpose of the organisation?

Mr Mkhize replied that NEDLAC was busy filling the vacant post. He explained that while they were still looking for a person to assume the responsibilities of Communication Coordinator, NEDLAC was using the communication resources of the Department of Labour to get their message across.

The Chairperson thanked NEDLAC for the presentation. She also noted that for future purposes, NEDLAC should send their presentation and all the relevant documents to the Committee a few days before the actual day of the presentation, and should not only distribute their presentation a few minutes before the presentation like they did this time.

The meeting was adjourned.

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