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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
30 October 2007
NEDLAC RESPONSE TO DEPARTMENT’S 2006/7 ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Audio recording of meeting
The National Economic Development and Labour Council gave a brief comment on the issues raised in the Annual Report of the Department of Labour. It noted that there was dichotomy of views between the labour unions and the private sector as to whether the labour laws needed to be tightened, or merely applied more strictly. Coordination of the clusters was a further challenge, and the Department must give input on the proper direction to follow. Members asked for the views of NEDLAC whether the Department had capacity to deal with the challenges, the extent of the current legislative framework, the meaning of labour market flexibility, whether there was a need for amendment of the legislation and whether the potential would be reached if the Department could cut across the clusters. The Committee would meet with the Department in the following week to discuss these issues.
National Economic Development and Labour Council’s (NEDLAC) Response to Annual Report of Department of Labour (DOL)
Mr Herbert Mkhize, Executive Director, NEDLAC, briefed the Committee on the response of NEDLAC to certain issues arising from the 2006/7 Annual Report of the Department of Labour. One of the challenges being faced was that the labour legislative regime in South Africa was very advanced. Whilst on the one hand the labour unions felt that the legislative framework should be tightened, the private sector on the other hand felt that it was already tight enough, and merely needed to be implemented properly. How best to deal with the dichotomy of views was a major issue. A further challenge lay in how to co-ordinate the various clusters. He added that the Department of Labour had to be involved in articulating a proper direction in this regard.
Mr M Mzondeki (ANC) asked to know what the capacity of the Department was to deal with all the challenges raised.
The Chairperson asked how extensive the current legislative framework really was.
Dr U Roopnarain (IFP) asked what labour market flexibility meant. She also asked whether certain aspects of the current labour legislation should be amended, and if so, what aspects were suggested.
Mr B Mkongi (ANC) asked whether the labour market regime in South Africa was not already very flexible. He also asked whether there were gaps in the labour market policy framework.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked whether the potential of labour would be increased when the Department access cut across all the clusters.
Mr Mkhize stated that his comments may not be the view of the Department. He felt that dispute resolution was one of the major obstacles faced in the labour market policy. With the current regime, it had become very difficult to dismiss workers, hence employers were not keen to make permanent appointments. He added that the problem may not be with the law itself, but with the administration of it. He continued that there might be a need to revisit the dispute resolution mechanism in the Act because it had led to negative consequences and implications for business.
On the issue of labour market flexibility, Mr Mkhize said that the labour framework existed primarily to protect workers, and particularly vulnerable workers. He added that the law was failing to protect vulnerable workers. On the capacity of government, he said that there were limitations as to what government could do, and what the private sector could also do. He was of the view that capacity was not a major problem, but that the Department should cut across all clusters.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would meet the following week with the Department to look into some of the issues raised.
The meeting was adjourned.
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