Growth and Development Summit Agreements: NEDLAC progress Reports

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Labour

28 August 2006
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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
29 August 2006
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT AGREEMENTS: NEDLAC PROGRESS REPORTS

Chairperson
: Ms O R Kasienyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
GDS Agreements-Progress progress reports
Growth and Development Summit: NEDLAC Business report
Growth and Development Summit: NEDLAC Community Constituency report
Growth and Development Summit: Government report: Part1 & Part2
Growth and Development Summit: NEDLAC Labour report

SUMMARY
The four NEDLAC constituencies: Government, Organised Labour, Organised Business, and Organised Community made presentations on the progress following the Growth and Development Summit agreements.  They summarized their constituency initiatives, the tasks completed and challenges faced. Some case studies were presented, as outlined in the presentations attached. Members raised questions on a number of diverse issues. Some of the questions were left unanswered because of the time constraints. Issues raised included the profiling of NEDLAC and its successes, how NEDLAC acted to improve the capacity of municipalities, imbalances in NEDLAC and housing and mining charter objectives. The Expanded Works Programmes were examined in relation to learners exiting before completion of the programme, female representation and the problem of “fronting” of female contractors in the building industry. The status quo of the Women’s Coalition, granting of land to women in rural areas and the problem of traditional leaders claiming land were raised. The Department of Education was questioned on the assistance given to graduates, and in particular the Further Education and Training programmes. Comment was sought on the Superior Courts Bill and on the Buy Local Campaign.

MINUTES
Presentation on the growth and development summit (GDS) and the accelerated shared growth initiative for South Africa (ASGI-SA)
Mr Herbert Mkhize (Executive Director: NEDLAC) presented a progress report on the Growth and Development Summit (GDS) agreements, focusing on those themes and key intervention which have provided the greatest impact. Implementation was to be measured by the interventions in the collective agreements by the NEDLAC constituencies and the individual commitments by each constituencies. Both would find ways of giving effect to the commitments of GDS and the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiatives of South Africa (ASGI-SA). Mr Mkhize summarized and explained the completed tasks, the tasks initiated, the key highlights and outstanding tasks through each of the key areas. Goals were outlined as:  More jobs, Better jobs and decent work for all, Addressing the investment challenge, Advancing equity, Developing skills, Creating economic opportunities for all, Extending services and Local action implementation. He examined the job creation and sector performances.

Prof Raymond Parsons (Overall Business Convenor: Business Unit South Africa (BUSA)) indicated that his presentation was more of a top down perspective that would show the place of ASGI-SA and GDS in the broader picture and highlight that both these processes worked with intangibles. He indicated that ASGI-SA was an offshoot of GDS, and worked closely it by incorporating the continued commitments of the GDS. He also pinpointed the positive features of the South African economy, the major constraints it was facing and the lessons learnt from the GDS and ASGI-SA.

Mr Ebrahim Patel (Labour Convenor: NEDLAC) stated that his presentation was an overview from the trade unions, that identified the GDS’s importance to their area of work in organized labor. His presentation highlighted the labour job programme, including the labour job creation fund and some of the key initiatives and implementations that came out of the GDS. He included some case studies of random implementation and showed how these were linked to the daily work of the trade unions. He outlined the challenges they were facing.

Presentation on NEDLAC Communtiy Constituency GDS progress report
 Mr Mzolisi ka-Toni (Secretary General of Disabled People: Community Constituency) gave a presentation on the Community Constituency progress. He highlighted the substantive areas of delivery by the individual sections. The focus areas of the community constituency were the mobilization of participants for Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWPs) and the identification of potential projects at the local level, promotion of training in government tender procedures, and initiating and strengthening co-operatives. It would also develop strategies, (together with the Department of Labour) on a joint marketing campaign on learnerships, ensuring that young people in rural areas were informed of learnership opportunities and how to register with labour centers and employment and skills development agencies, and how to access basic services. The Community also highlighted their key priority areas for the period 2006-07.

Mr Les Kettledas (Deputy Director General: Department of Labour) stated that the main themes to which the Department of Labor contributed were More jobs, Better jobs, Decent work for all, Addressing the investment challenge, Advancing Equity, Developing skills, Creating economic opportunities for all, Extending services and Local implementation for development. He outlined briefly how his Department was involved.

Discussion
Mr L Maduma (ANC) said that one of the reasons why there was a public outcry for the closure of NEDLAC was that its results were not known. He asked if there was any mechanism in place to profile the success of NEDLAC

Mr Maduma asked what was being done to rectify the huge number of exits from EPWP outside of the proper exiting strategy. The exiting learners lacked the essential skills and could not hold more permanent jobs. EPWP was then criticized as not empowering long term employment.

Mr Stan Anderson (Department of Public Works) acknowledged that exits were a problem. He said that currently there was data and research being compiled to show the broad impact, so it was premature to comment on it now.

Mr M Mzondeki (ANC) and Mr Maduna asked how far NEDLAC were in sending experts to build up the capacity of the municipalities.

Mr Parsons replied that partial redress steps had been taken but NEDLAC really would need to go at ground level and help with the lack of municipality capacity. This, however, was unlikely because NEDLAC lacked the human resources and capacity to do so as it was flooded by national issues.

Mr T Anthony (ANC) commented favourably on the clarity of the presentation. He asked for further clarification on the business profile especially on the matter of imbalance.

Mr Parsons said the imbalances were in three areas, namely capacity, equity and participation in the economy. NEDLAC was busy rectifying these. ASGI-SA and GDS were important in that they would empower NEDLAC to do more. It was important to note that underscoring the importance of making a success of their current commitments would lead to a levelling off or missing the right components. Already there seemed to be signals, such as the overspending of consumers, in the economy.

Ms Nwabisi Matoti (Economist: BUSA) said she would elaborate further on this in writing, as there was insufficient time to deal with it at the meeting.

Mr Anthony asked whether the multi purpose community centres (MPCCs) were going to be operational in all municipalities.

Mr Andrew Baitleit (Director NHRD: Department of Education) answered that the aim was for the MPCCs to be functional in all 284 municipalities.

Mr Anthony asked how far NEDLAC had gone in ensuring that raw materials were processed in South Africa as opposed to exporting them, as this would lead to job creation.

Mr Patel agreed with Mr Anthony that the exportation of raw materials meant that jobs were lost that could have been created if South Africa had its own manufacturing and processing industry. Because South Africa exported raw minerals it ran a huge trade deficit. The solution lay in having an exchange rate that was competitive. He suggested that energy and enterprises from the Department of Trade and Industry be directed towards the capacity to create jobs and transform the South African mineral and agricultural base. Further there should be a policy that was active and supportive of this trend, similar to what the East Asian markets had embraced.

Mr Anthony asked about the problem of fronting when it came to the promotion and development of female contractors, which was already occurring in the provinces. Tenders of construction were awarded to females, but because they had no knowledge of construction the money that was supposed to empower them and their workers then was forwarded to contracting specialists. As result the mandate of empowering was not reached.

Mr Anderson replied that NEDLAC was aware that fronting could be taking place. Therefore the current requirements for emerging contractors required that they go through learnerships in construction and registered with the Construction Industry Development Board before they became accredited contractors 

The Chairperson asked for clarification who was carrying out the housing projects – provinces, or municipalities. 

Mr Anthony asked how far NEDLAC had fulfilled the objectives of the mining charter, especially the issue of ownership.

The Chairperson asked how the structure of the new women’s coalition differed to the previous coalition that had existed before 1994.

Mr Ibrahim Steyn (Community Constituency Research and Policy Coordinator: Community Constituency) began by emphasising the need to have a follow up session that would deal with all the questions raised, which could not be answered due to time constraints.

He confirmed that the women’s coalition was an integral part of the Progress Women’s Movement and that their new name would be forwarded to the committee as soon as it had been received.

Ms T Lishivha (ANC) asked what was being done to ensure that land was allocated to needy people, such as women in rural areas. Currently the traditional leaders had power over the land.

Ms V Mabitsi (Department of Provincial and Local Government) replied that in order to ensure that the people acquired land they had already introduced legislation relating to Traditional Leaders. This was mainly to ensure a working relationship between the municipalities and the traditional leaders, which would in turn result in the land being available to members of the community.

The Chairperson asked about female representation, in particular in relation to the women’s coalition and the projects related to women.

Mr Anderson replied that the specific targets set for the Public Works Programmes were 40% women, 30% youth and 2% disabled. All the programmes currently operating would take this into account and studies would in time show the broad impact on communities.

The Chairperson asked what was being done to assist young graduates fresh out of school.

Mr Parsons replied that the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) was dealing with school leavers and graduates, as a matter of priority.

The Chairperson highlighted the challenge of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). This suffered from the perception that it only benefited a few people.

Mr Patel replied that despite perceptions, BEE did have some successes although there were admittedly too few to date.

The Chairperson asked to be informed on the status of the Superior Courts Bill..

Mr Patel replied that NEDLAC was quite unhappy with the way it was drafted because, among other issues, it eradicated the role NEDLAC had in choosing judicial officers in labour issues. Moreover, NEDLAC did not agree with the idea that the specialist labour courts be incorporated into the High Courts and believed that in its current form the Bill was most likely to bring confusion because it would allow the same facts to be heard in two different courts, which could pronounce different judgments on the same set of facts. NEDLAC would urge the Department of Labour and the Department of Justice jointly to discuss a positive way forward.

The Chairperson asked whether government was intervening on the influx of foreigners, who were taking over the South African economy, were not registered and were exploiting South African nationals.

The Chairperson asked about the Further Education and Training (FET) funds, in light of complaints by youth that there was inadequate funding.

Mr Baitleit stated that the Department of Education had published an FET draft programme for public comment. This included 13 programmes that were identified by ASGISA, in partnership with the Minister, to try to bridge the gap between supply and demand.

The Chairperson asked for more elaboration on the “Buy Local” campaign.

Mr Patel commented that there was a lot that could be done on this campaign. Trade unions could identify and promote local products. The business community should have a responsibility to support the campaign and not resort to importing Chinese goods. Government could do an audit and identify opportunities, and then it could promote the local industries through procurement arrangements. The community should work to change the consumer preference for overseas clothing arising from the perception that it was of a higher quality.

Mr Anthony asked why collective bargaining was not being fruitful, evidenced by the annual strikes.

The Chairperson suggested that some of the questions raised on employment equity could be deferred to the Employment Equity Portfolio Committee meeting that would be held on 5 September.

Mr Mzondeki believed that employment equity could be improved.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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