Department of Labour Strategic Plan and Budget: briefing

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SELECT COMMITTEE ON LABOUR AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISE [NCOP]

SELECT COMMITTEE ON LABOUR AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISES
9 May 2006
DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET: BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Ms M P Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga)

Documents handed out:

Department of Labour Strategic Plan 2006-09

SUMMARY
The Department of Labour presented its Strategic Plan for 2006 to 2009 and its budget for 2006/07 to the Committee. It highlighted goals of improving economic efficiency and productivity, developing skills and creating employment, building sound labour relations, alleviating poverty in employment, enhancing occupational health and safety awareness and compliance in the work place and nurturing a culture of acceptance that worker rights are human rights. The Department further highlighted the ministerial programme for 2004 to 2009; its achievements and strategic objectives.

Members wanted clarity on compliance with employment equity legislation, improved service delivery, the impact of Government initiatives on the Department, departmental funding and methods of protecting vulnerable workers.

MINUTES

Department of Labour presentation
The Department of Labour presented their strategic plan for 2006-09 to the Committee. They highlighted their vision of "striving for a labour market which is conducive to economic growth, investment and employment creation". This should be characterised by "rising skills, equity, sound labour relations and respect for employment standards and worker rights."

The Department’s delegation included Dr V Mkosana (Director General), Mr Mokgadi Pela (Senior Executive Manager), Dr S Morotoba (Deputy Director General (DDG) responsible for labour policy and labour market programs, Mr Shakes Mkhonto, DDG responsible for Service Delivery, Ms Mafodi Xaba, DDG responsible for corporate services in the Department and Mr Chris van der Merwe, the Chief Financial officer (CF0) of the Department.

Dr Mkosana explained the Ministerial programme of action which included the following ten strategic objectives:
-Employment creation
-Skills development
-Employment equity
-Protection of vulnerable workers
-International relations
-Strengthening social protection
-Promoting sound labour relations
-Strengthening capacity of labour market institutions
-Monitor the impact of legislation
-Strengthening the Department’s institutional capacity.

The presenters highlighted the information technology plan of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) which would use mobile and wireless technologies to facilitate service delivery to remote areas and would refresh the IT infrastructure.

The presenters explained their human resources (HR) plan which would support the strategic plan of the department through the organisational structure and the implementation of a range of HR policies such as recruitment and selection, training and development, career management and retention, employee wellness etc.

The CFO briefed the Committee on the Department’s budget. This included the Medium-term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocations, transfers and statutory allocations.

Dr Mkosana concluded the presentation by emphasising that the strategic plan should be used as a basis for measuring the department’s performance over the next three years, and that it should be viewed in the context of the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGI-SA).

Discussion

Ms N Ntwanambi (ANC, Western Cape) queried what level of engagement there had been between the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Department regarding the current bout of industrial action in the security sector, which she described as seemingly endless. She stressed it had now turned to criminal activity.

Dr Mkosona emphasised that the Department had thoroughly engaged with both COSATU and the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) on the issue.

Ms Ntwanambi requested that the Department provide the Committee with a break down of theits achievements on a provincial basis. It was important for Members to be able to analyse and appreciate the level and nature of work that has been done in each province. Likewise, did the Department have any figures on the numbers of black women in managerial positions? It would be useful for Members to be able to inspect this on a provincial basis.

Dr Mkosona explained that the Department’s annual report contained a breakdown of resources allocated on a provincial basis. This document would also highlight the gender balance breakdown across the Department.

Mr D Gamede (ANC, Eastern Cape) noted that the presentation had highlighted the on-going need for transformation within the Department. There was still a dominance of white males, what was the plan for redressing this? Was there a strategy to address this situation? Mr Gamede was particularly interested in the composition of middle management.

The Chair highlighted that the presenters had indicated that the Department still suffered from domination by white males. Did the Department have a gender focus unit? If so, has it been fully resourced?

Ms Xaba explained that the Department had set employment equity targets. On this matter the Department could furnish the Committee with a more detailed report, which was indeed informed by the gender audit.

Mr Gamede asked the presenters whether the ASGI-SA policy was being treated by the Department as a Departmental programme in its own right or treated as a Government policy.

Dr Mkosona explained that ASGI-SA was primarily a Government initiative; all Government Departments across the board would be addressing the new economic policy, in some form. It was about developing infrastructure and human capital, information and skills development. This was why the Department had in fact adjusted their strategy.

Mr Gamede commented that sheltered employment was a particularly sensitive subject. He felt little had been said on this issue. He knew it affected mostly centres where there were people with disabilities. There had been a turnaround strategy, but he felt the Department had not been explicit on what was being done to address this issue.

Mr J Sibiya (ANC, Limpopo) highlighted the strategic objective of extending protection to vulnerable workers. Did the DoL intent to create new mechanisms for protecting these workers, or was it a case of improving those that already existed? He explained that in his province there were also many illegal migrant workers from places such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Where would this protection mechanism place them, would they be part and parcel of this, or would there need to be a way of curbing their presence?

Dr Mkosana explained that on the issue of illegal migrant workers, there had been cross-border negotiations with Lesotho and Mozambique. The Minister had visited Zimbabwe and his Zimbabwean equivalent had visited the Limpopo province to gain greater insight into this situation.

Ms S Mabe (ANC, Free State) followed this by asking where this left migrant workers from further afield.

Dr Mkosana said they were working with the Department of Home Affairs on this issue as that Department held primary responsibility for dealing with immigration and border control.

Mr Sibiya queried the employment equity award system explained in the presentation. Would this system reward those employers who achieved employment equity, and likewise did the Department have a mechanism for renouncing those employers who had not done well?

Dr Mkosana explained that the Department believed naming and praising was a best practice, but would penalise employers who did not comply.

Mr Sibiya noted that as an achievement, the DoL had highlighted South Africa’s establishment of bilateral relations with key countries such as Cuba and China and other African countries. What factors had determined the Department’s choice of country?

Dr Mkosana explained that as far as bilateral relations were concerned there were no international friends only economic interests. Relations with such countries was motivated by prospects of economic growth. He stressed it was fundamental for South Africa to develop a relationship with China which would soon become a world power.

Mr D Mkono (ANC, Eastern Cape) commended the Department for recognising the importance of speedy compensation from the Compensation Fund (CF) and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

Mr Mkono asked for clarity on the Department’s budget for service delivery. It had been doubled, but would it be effective?

Mr Van Der Merwe explained that the Service delivery budget was so big because it dealt with and included all the strategic areas of the DoL.

Mr Hendricks (DA) raised his concern about small business and skills. He wanted to know if the Department had widely consulted small businesses about the impediments that faced them. He knew about many small businesses that had gone out of business because of all the government regulations and it almost seemed as if government was harassing them.

Mr Mkosana noted that casualisation was in fact on the rise. It was a myth that small business was restricted by a mass of legislation, because most of these businesses were informal in their very nature.

Mr Hendricks asked, regarding scarce skills, how many people had been trained and in what skills. It was important for the Committee to be able to assess skills development.

Mr Hendricks raised the issue of apprenticeships. These had been done away with over the last couple of years. This was a focal point of South Africa’s advancement. What was being done about this critical issue?

Dr Moratoba explained that there had been negative media coverage on the issue of learnerships. People did not understand the value of the qualification. Some learnership qualifications were in fact at a higher level than some apprenticeships.

Dr Moratoba explained that five scarce skills had been identified. He conceded that there were limitations on Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) but about 5000 learners would nevertheless benefit.

Ms J Terblanche (DA, North West) said it seemed the Department was planning for the SETAs to fail seeing as they were aiming for only 15 out of 23 satisfactory assessments. Surely it would be better to aim for a 100% target?

Dr Moratoba explained that the target of achieving a satisfactory assessmentfor 15 of the SETAs was an absolute minimum target.

Mr Hendricks noted that farm workers were regularly just evicted from farms. What was the Department doing to address this issue?

Mr Mkosana explained that the eviction of farm workers was primarily an issue dealt with by the Departments of Agriculture and Land Affairs. Farmers could not just evict people. He told the Committee that there were regular inspections of farms.

Ms Mabe commended the Department for decentralising services to labour centres. She commented that it was also commendable of the Department to try to strengthen their institutional capacity. She requested that the presenters clarify which province had received the 20 mobile units.

Ms Xaba explained that there were already labour centres in each province. The mobile units would be directed to where they were needed most.

Mr Gamede wanted clarity on how the Department had decided where the units should be located.

Mr Mkosona clarified that mobile units covered the areas not covered by the normal labour centers. Their purpose was to fill geographical gaps.

The Chair noted that the strategic plan had not included any challenges that had been faced by the Department over the past two years. It would be useful for the Committee to get an idea of how any challenges would be rectified.

Mr Pela explained that the challenges faced by the Department had not been reflected in the presentation precisely because they were covered in detail in the annual report and the strategic plan.

The Chair commented that with regard to monitoring the SETAs, last year the Committee had requested each SETA to provide a breakdown of its relationship with the provinces. She noted that the presenters had not mentioned the issue of farm workers and highlighted that there had to be a strategy for improving the lives of farm workers.

Ms Terblanche sought clarity on the child labour action programme. Was there a time frame for the finalisation and implementation of this? How did the Department intend monitoring this?

Dr Mkosana commented that the issue of child labour, along with trafficking of women was a priority for the Department. The whole of Government had a role to play in both these issues.

The Chair asked if the Department was satisfied with their budget allocation. Were they confident that they would see the results of the strategic plan they were putting in place within the intended period?

Dr Mkosona explained that the Department could have used a larger budget allocation.

Ms Xaba commented that she believed that for the Department to address their strategic aims for the future, a prerequisite would be an increase in funding.

The meeting was adjourned.

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