Ex Mineworkers’ Union Concerns: briefing by Office of the Speaker

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Meeting report

AD HOC COMMITTEE ON EX MINEWORKERS UNION
30 October 2007
EX MINEWORKERS’ UNION CONCERNS: BRIEFING BY OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER


Chairperson: Mr M R Sonto (ANC)

Audio recording of meeting

SUMMARY
The Office of the Speaker addressed the Committee on the concerns of the Ex-mineworkers’ Union that was dissatisfied due to outstanding pensions and compensation due to them since its members had contracted diseases while working on the mines in the Eastern Cape and former homelands. The Union was concerned that the President was not responsive to the issues that they had taken up with the Eastern Cape provincial government and other government departments. The Union was also unhappy about individuals holding two paying positions of work such as teachers who were also councillors.

The Committee asked questions about the money promised by government institutions dealing with the Ex-mineworkers’ Union, other labour institutions and representation of the union.

MINUTES
Briefing by Office of the Speaker
Advocate Nonkosi Cetshwayo (Head: Office of the Speaker) addressed the Committee on the issue of the Ex-mineworkers Union that was dissatisfied given that their members had contracted diseases. The Office of the Speaker had interacted with the ex mineworkers Union on 1 February 2006. Their meeting took place in response to a letter written to the Speaker on behalf of the Ex-mineworkers Union which took place as a matter of urgency when the Union threatened to protest at the President’s State of the Nation address. The Union’s letter was not very clear but they demanded to meet with the Speaker. A meeting was held with union leader, Mr Elliot Nomazele, on 1 February 2006.

The Union was concerned that the President was not responsive enough to issues that they took up with the Eastern Cape government and other government departments. The Union said that they had a meeting with the Mr Murphy Morobe from the Office of the President in December 2005. According to the Union, Mr Morobe made an undertaking that they would be reimbursed on the day after the meeting. The Union had a meeting again on 8 January 2006 and they were advised to meet with the Eastern Cape government, the Presidency and other relevant government departments. Only the Department of Labour attended the meeting that the Union wanted. The Union then approached the Speaker of Parliament.

The Union was also unhappy about individuals holding two paying positions of work. They referred to teachers who were also councillors.

Discussion
Mr E Lucas (IFP) asked how the issue of the teachers was related to the ex-mineworkers issue.

Advocate Cetshwayo said that the Union complained about teachers given the high levels of unemployment within South Africa. The Office of the Speaker did not see a connection between the two issues and aimed to deal with these as separate complaints.

Mr J Sibanyoni (ANC) asked why the Union had approached the President and the Speaker.

Advocate Cetshwayo said that the Union wanted the Speaker to intervene. The Office of the Speaker did not develop a position regarding this issue but still wanted more information.

Mr Sonto asked what constituted a complaint and what exactly was the Union complaining about. He also asked how Parliament or the Office of the Speaker should attend to a complaint.

Advocate Cetshwayo said that the Office of the Speaker had to interrogate the complaints to determine exactly what the Union wanted. The Union’s members contracted diseases while they were working on the mines. They wanted assistance from government in order to get compensation for the diseases contracted.

Ms L Matsemela asked what money were Union members promised by the President.

Advocate Cetshwayo said that the Union referred to money that the Union claimed they were promised. This issue had not been thoroughly interrogated by the Office of the Speaker. The Office of the Speaker found the promise of the payout of money hard to believe given that procedures had to be followed in order to receive money.

Mr Sonto said that the Union should have approached other institutions such as the Labour Department. He asked if there was any indication that the Union went to other government departments.

Advocate Cetshwayo said that the Department of Labour was part of the process being followed within the Eastern Cape. There was not any indication of other labour institutions being approached during this process.

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) felt that the plight of the ex-mineworkers was a major issue.

Mr Lucas said he did not hear anything about the employer. Usually if one was injured on duty, the employer should reimburse the person that was injured.

Advocate Cetshwayo said that the Office of the Speaker had not looked at the employer-employee relationship during their meeting with the Union. The Office of the Speaker was cautious because they wanted to gather more information during the meeting. The Union also did not mention their employer or the Chamber of Mines during the meeting.

Advocate Cetshwayo referred to her time working in Eastern Cape for the Department of Justice where she became aware of people being compensated for injuries that they contracted while working on the mines. She assisted in the process by referring people to a list, which was posted in the municipal offices by the Office of the Premier. The Eastern Cape government investigated this issue and they came up with a list of people who were justified in getting compensation for injuries contracted while they were working on the mines.

Mr Sonto asked what the Union relationship was with
Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). He wanted to know if they were representing the executive and how many people the Union were presenting.

Advocate Cetshwayo said that the Union did not mention any relationship with Cosatu. The Union delegation indicated that they represented the Eastern Cape and not the whole country.

Mr Sonto also referred to a promise made to the Union that the Office of the Speaker was going to write a letter to the president. He wanted to know what the letter was going to ask from the president.

Advocate Cetshwayo said the letter to the President aimed to get the President’s point of view on the ex-mineworkers issue and to ask for advice on dealing with this matter.

Mr Sonto referred to a meeting between the Speaker, the Union and the department that took place in the Eastern Cape. He wanted to know if the meeting took place and when the meeting took place. Was that the last time that the Union interacted with the Office of the Speaker or if the Union continued to do follow-ups with the Office of the Speaker?

Advocate Cetshwayo said that there was no interaction between the Office of the Speaker and the Union after the meeting they had had.

Mr Sonto said that there was not sufficient information available on this issue. A meeting had been arranged for Thursday 1 November 2007 for the Union to present their case to the Committee.

The Office of the Premier in the Eastern Cape insisted that they would also want to attend the meeting because they did not want to be accused in their absence. The meeting with the Union would assist the Committee to develop a roadmap for further action.

The Committee had also received a letter from the House asking the Committee whether it had developed a programme and a budget. The Committee required input from the Office of the Speaker, the Eastern Cape government and the Union in order to develop a programme and a budget.

Mr Mkongi said that it would be important to discuss budget issues after the submissions. The submissions would inform the budget for this issue.

Ms Matsemela said that it was important to meet with the union. She was not sure how big the delegation would be from the Union and the Premier’s office.

Mr Sonto noted that some of the members of the ad-hoc Committee did not know that they were part of the Committee yet. All members needed to be alerted to the meeting with the Union.

Mr Sonto was not sure if the document that the Committee received was a petition. If it was a petition then the document needed to be earmarked for the Petitions Committee. Clarity was needed to determine whether this Committee or the Petitions Committee had to deal with the issue of the ex-mineworkers.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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