Workplace Discrimination: preparation for public hearings

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Employment and Labour

27 August 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 August 2007
WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION: PREPARATION FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS

Chairperson:
Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
None

Audio recording of meeting

SUMMARY
The Chairperson raised some of the issues detailed in the report by the Commission for Employment Equity, which included the narrow view of the term discrimination. A public hearing was shortly to be held at which the report would be examined. Participants at the workshop would include academic institutions, trade unions, Chapter 9 institutions and government departments. Members expressed their concern that the report had already been questioned and criticised. It was pointed out that civil society, although it could provide a view, could not assist in providing oversight. It was noted that the Commission had already met with the Committee, and that the public hearing would assist in clarifying issues.

The Committee approved the Minutes of its meetings between 8 May and 20 June. It was noted that written responses from one of the Sector Education and Training Authorities were still outstanding, and a Member suggested that a further discussion on the issues was still required.

MINUTES
Planning for public hearings on workplace discrimination

The Chairperson tabled and noted the report on workplace discrimination prepared by the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE). It was noted that the Commission had reported little progress in the improvement in representation of black women in the workplace. The Chairperson encouraged the members to view discrimination in a broader perspective. She stated that discrimination did not just apply to racism, but included the discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, disabled people and people from different backgrounds and genders.

The Chairperson then noted that the Committee should discuss its strategy for the public hearings. These were expected to last four days. The CEE would be present as well as some researchers from Wits University, Congress of Allied Trade Unions (COSATU), the S A Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), and Solidarity, amongst others.

Discussion
Ms A Dreyer (DA) asked what the purpose of the hearing was. She felt that calling in structures from civil society would not help provide oversight over the government, as this was actually the job of the Portfolio Committee. She suggested that the CEE should be called in, and their report should be interrogated before going any further.

The Chairperson responded that the Commission’s report had prompted this meeting and that it had in fact already met the Portfolio Committee, so it was unnecessary to meet with them again.

Ms Dreyer wanted to know if the Committee had to accept the CEE report uncritically, without any explanations or questioning of those who presented.

The Chairperson stated that the Minister would be present to open the public hearing, and he may be able to clarify any issues with the report.

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) reiterated that the CEE had already met with the Committee, and needed a response. Therefore, this meeting could be regarded as giving the response to the report.

Mr M Nene (ANC) stated that the report went beyond the scope of racism, and actually dealt with other forms of discrimination.

Mr Mkongi said that the role of the Committee was not just limited to examining government departments. He believed that this was a narrow approach. The role of the Committee was widespread and dealt with the whole of society, including the private sector. Public hearings served the purpose of a necessary exercise in comparative analysis. Society was engaging with the report, and so should government.

Mr T Anthony (ANC) proposed that the Committee begin to engage in the purpose of the meeting. The exercise would give parliament and the public an opportunity to scrutinise discrimination in the workplace.

Mr M Mzondeki (ANC) asked if the Committee wanted to tackle certain government departments, and get the views of civil society and the private sector.

Ms Dreyer asked if Members were aware of the fact that the integrity of the CEE report was at stake. There were accusations that the report was not accurate, and there were independent audits concerning this report.

The Chairperson responded that at the public hearings the report would be placed in the spotlight, and any flaws would be examined

Mr Mkongi wanted to know what had happened in terms of workplace discrimination. He proposed that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) be invited.

The Chairperson replied that SALGA had already been invited.

Mr Mzondeki said that this process was a way of giving the public a platform to air their grievances, and once everyone had been heard, the report could be redrafted.

Ms L Moss (ANC) suggested that it be stressed that there was a need for progression. She realised that the report stated that the largest percentage of growth in employment equity was the category of white women, and this perception would have to change.

The Chairperson stated that these public hearings would assist women

Mr E Mtshali (ANC) believed that the Professor from Wits University should be prioritised, as he would give an objective viewpoint.

The Chairperson replied that Wits would be starting first and COSATU would come on 11 September. She asked if there were any other groups the Committee would like prioritised.

Mr Mzondeki asked that the Department of Public Service and Administration be one of the prioritised groups.

Mr Mkongi suggested that Solidarity Union should also be a priority

The Chairperson responded that Solidarity Union had already arranged to come on 12 September.

Adoption of minutes
The minutes of 8 May, 9 May, 15 May, 22 May, 29 May, 19 June and 20 June were adopted with amendments. The minutes of 21 June were to be corrected and were set aside for the moment.

Mr O Mogale (ANC) referred to the Committee’s meeting with one of the Sector Education and Training Authorities who had been asked to submit responses in writing, but noted that they had not yet reverted with their written report.
 
Mr Mkongi stated that there needed to be a discussion on the SETAs, so that Parliament could be informed about their performance

The meeting was adjourned.
 

 

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