Hansard: Appropriation Bill : Debate on Vote No 15 - Labour
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 18 Jun 2009
No summary available.
UNREVISED HANSARD EPC – COMMITTEE ROOM: E249
Friday, 19 June 2009
FRIDAY, 19 JUNE 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE - COMMITTEE ROOM E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 10:00.
House Chairperson Mr M B Skosana as Chairperson took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Vote No 15 – Labour:
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Chairperson, hon members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, when I addressed Parliament during the department's Budget Vote debate on 15 May 2008, I dedicated my speech to those workers of this country who died at their workplaces because of preventable accidents. It is with regret and a deep sense of sadness that I have to do the same this year.
Over 80 workers died in Welkom after they were buried alive.
Kode kube nini na sikhala, sinxakama, sinqada? Kode kube nini na abasebenzi besifa ngolunya ngolu hlobo? Kunini singcwaba? Kunini silila, siziphethe ngeenkophe, izifuba zihubahuba? Ngathi ithuba lokubambisana lifikile. Le ayisafuni bahloli beli sebe, ifuna kuqulwe, kuliwe luluntu jikelele. Baphi na abantu? Safa isizwe zizandawana namaxhwili!; safa isizwe!; lafa uluntu!; bafa abantu!; bafa kubukelwe!; bafa simangalisiwe!; bafa sithe nkamalala! Naxa kunjalo, akulahlwa mbeleko ngakufelwa. Utsho uS E K Mqhayi ukuba "Kuf'omnye kakade, mini kwakhiw'omnye; kukhonza mnye zekuphile abanye."
Sibila sisoma siphucula ukusebenza ngengqiniseko kwabahloli bethu. Side saqesha intsumpa yabo jikelele, u Thobile Lamati, ukuqinisekisa nokunyanzelisa ukuthotyelwa komthetho. Ilishwa nje lelokuba abahloli bayabaleka, baya kumathafa aluhlaza. Ukunqanda oku ke, siye saphakamisa nje ngokuncinane amanqanaba okwamkela kwabo.
Akulula ukubanqanda ukuba bangahambi, kuba ayininzanga imali abayamkelayo. Akulula ke ukuba eli sebe liguqule le meko ngenxa yezigaba ezilandelwayo ngurhulumente kwanothethwano nemibutho yabasebenzi oluhamba ngokonwabu ngamanye amaxesha.
Despite this challenge, we have realised our vision of establishing the balance between conducting inspections and conducting meaningful, sustainable inspections. A total of 153 697 workplaces were visited across the country, and the compliance level has increased by 5%, from 78% in 2008 to 83% in 2009. Furthermore, in line with this vision, several inspectors were trained to enforce substantive compliance with the requirements of the Employment Equity Act.
It is clear to me that our enforcement mechanisms have to be reviewed. It cannot be business as usual. The Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Commission need audit inspectors. We can never take that for granted. Employment equity needs human resource specialists to do inspections. Specialist inspectors are needed to conduct investigations. And lastly, inspections by government must be integrated. Some occupational health and safety inspections in the mines are done by the Department of Health, as you might know. Our view on occupational health and safety inspections in mines is that the Department of Health and the Department of Labour must work together, because working together we can do more.
The House should note that in the previous financial year, career guidance counsellors were appointed. Their main function is to provide counselling services, mainly to assist unemployed people to access sustainable livelihoods in the labour market. We further undertook to invest more in the acquisition of artisan and technical skills during the past year.
The SETAs were able to register 17 228 artisans in training, and over 109 351 workers completed training in scarce and critical skills through learnerships, apprenticeships and other learning programmes. Targets were well exceeded in this area.
With funding from the National Skills Fund, the department was able to assist 41 336 unemployed people to enter learnership programmes. This was also in excess of the target of 16 000 that we set for ourselves.
During these difficult economic circumstances, the presence of a reliable social protection system becomes a necessity. It is thus important to have measures in place to cushion the effects of harsh economic conditions.
For the past year ending March 2009, there were 300 000 more contributors on the database of the Unemployment Insurance Fund - 7,6 million in total compared to the end of March 2008 when there were 7,3 million in total. However, the UIF paid benefits to 627 244 beneficiaries equalling a total amount of R3,8 billion. This is a 31,7% increase in unemployment benefit payments compared to the previous year.
This is a clear reflection of the impact of the current economic crisis and it is continuing. To respond to this challenge, we intend to increase the period of benefits from eight to 12 months, whilst also increasing the monetary benefits. We were also looking at the possibility of including public servants. Those who have been following the labour market will be aware that for a very long time this debate could not be won. The former president of Cosatu, and now president of the Cope trade union, will remember this. But perhaps we were waiting for him to leave, because now we have agreed to include public servants in the UIF.
All these recommendations will require legislative amendments. As part of improving benefits to our citizens I have tasked the fund to look at the UIF Act. It is actually one of those ironies that to increase benefits from eight to 12 months - just to increase payment benefits - we must amend the law. We must bring the law to Parliament and follow that long process.
We think that we should have thought about regulations rather than putting everything in the law. However, the situation as it stands, is that even to do that, we must bring the amendment to this House, and I hope that hon members will support and not vote against those amendments.
Although there is some progress in the restructuring of the Compensation Fund, I am not at all satisfied. That is one thing I am not going to do: I am not going to stand here and defend the Compensation Fund. That I will not do! As Mao, my teacher, the one with the red bible, once said:
We should check our complacency and constantly criticise our shortcomings, just as we should wash our face or sweep the floor every day to remove the dirt and keep them clean.
There is a lot of dirt and a lot of sweeping will have to take place at the Compensation Fund. If we have to chop heads, then we must chop heads, for the sake of our people. The portfolio committee must assist me to do this. Working together we can do more.
Be that as it may, the fund has finalised the design of its management structure and additional persons have been appointed. A fully decentralised model for operations under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act is currently being piloted in the Eastern Cape and a second pilot is being established in Limpopo.
In my view, we cannot centralise the claims. We have to decentralise the claims to the various provincial offices, and, if possible, the various labour centres. At present, all Coida payments are being made electronically rather than by cheque and fraud has been reduced. The reason I say we may have to hit people, is precisely because we cannot continue to make promises, because this time round in the ANC we commit ourselves to service delivery and not are not merely promising service delivery.
The world is in a global financial, economic and social crisis, spreading like wildfire at high speed … [Interjections.]
It was a good thing that you left, because we were able to commit ourselves. Thanks for leaving, Willie!
Unfortunately South Africa has not been spared. Job losses are mounting and poverty is deepening. Two hundred thousand jobs were lost between the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of this year. It is also likely to have an impact on informal employment, thereby worsening existing problems of vulnerability in our labour market.
The situation calls for a concerted and coherent response, by government working together with our social partners; a response that will contribute to the creation of decent jobs, sustainable enterprises, respect for workers' rights and protection of vulnerable people. Sceptics will say that the ship has already sailed and whatever we do will be too little too late.
Ms A M DREYER: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: The Minister has referred to a member here on my left-hand side by his first name, saying "Willie" this and "Willie" that. It is "the hon member".
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Thank you for saying that.
The SPEAKER: Order! I am sure the hon Minister will remember that.
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Yes, indeed, they were very honourable for leaving the ANC and joining Cope. So I accept the hon member's reminder.
Sceptics will say that the ship has already sailed and whatever we do will be too little too late. Such responses pay little attention to those whose jobs remain under threat … [Interjections.]
The CHAIRPERSON: Order!
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: ... and to the many who find themselves unemployed and whose situation is unlikely to change without support from government and other social formations.
Over the past three months we have been engaging in structured interaction with organised labour and business to look at concrete, short-term responses that can help us to lessen the impact of the negative economic conditions that we face, but also to find ways to strengthen our economy and position it to take full advantage of the upturn in economic activity when this comes.
As the joint statement by the social partner states, and I quote:
We need social solidarity between all South Africans to ensure that the crisis does not damage the fabric of our society. Those with greater means have a responsibility to those without such means. Our collective responsibility is to work together to withstand the crisis and ensure that the poor and most vulnerable are protected as far as possible from its impact. We must also ensure that the economy is ready to take advantage of the next upturn and that the benefits of such growth are shared by all our people.
In this regard, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, CCMA, has been working very hard in dealing with retrenchments and helping parties to find alternatives to retrenchments. Using section 189 and 189A of the Labour Relations Act, CCMA commissioners facilitated consultation between employers and workers in larger companies that were considering retrenchments due to operational reasons.
Between January and March 2009, commissioners of the CCMA were involved in approximately 124 consultation processes that saved over 4 000 jobs - saved because workers and employers were able to agree to alternatives to retrenchments. Productivity South Africa will also be instructed to expand on its social plan programme for the economic crisis and to use its 10 years' experience that saved more than 96 000 jobs in agriculture, steel and metal, and clothing and textiles. I know that they have done a sterling job and I know they can also help other sectors in distress.
Our employment services have been facing increased demands over the past few months from companies in distress and retrenched workers. Demand for counselling has increased in some areas and there has been an increased need for assistance in accessing unemployment benefits. We expect this to continue and the department's employment services will need to cope with the demand as well as provide skills development and job placement services.
Hon Papi Kganare, when we say we need to cope, we don't need Cope! [Laughter.]
The training lay-off that was referred to in the President's state of the nation address is an initiative that we are also closely involved in. Discussions are being held with the CCMA, the Setas, IDC, NSF, UIF and social partners to find ways of making available training opportunities to workers under threat of retrenchment.
The aim would be to retain the workers under a modified contract of employment, whilst they are being trained and being paid an allowance. We are also exploring the possibility of providing benefits from the credits that workers have in the UIF to those who are willing to participate. In order for this to succeed we will have to secure an agreement with trade unions and employer organisations.
In pursuit of decent work, our first priority is the need for jobs. I believe we must strive for a mutually inseparable approach of ensuring that job creation and enterprise development are viewed in an integrated manner, that the workers enjoy social protection and that standards and rights at work are respected.
There are many more hills to climb and we intend to make this new journey with greater conviction and determination.
One of those hills is the strengthening and roll-out of an employment service system to all our labour centres. Indeed, to do this we need to climb hills, and cross rivers and dongas, be it in the form of IT systems, computers, offices and additional staff members. Because as all hon members know, it is not easy to provide these IT services in our rural areas. That is why I am terming it "hills and dongas". I am a rural boy …
... yakuQoboqobo kuZingcuka.
I believe that the people in Keiskammahoek also have a right to have access to IT, but I will start in Limpopo.
We will continue to provide information and referrals to training for unemployed persons, including equipping them with the necessary skills in various skills development learning programmes.
We have committed ourselves to registering a minimum of 6 500 work seekers on our database and to placing 50% of them; to ensuring that a minimum of 12 000 persons participate in artisan trade testing and at least 12 500 new trainee artisans register; that at least 52 000 employed and unemployed learners are supported in scarce skills programmes; at least 90 000 unemployed people participate in skills programmes; at least 2 000 young people are assisted to enter the new venture creation programme; and 63 000 successfully complete these programmes by the end of March 2010. This is indeed a hill, but it is a hill that we are committed to climbing.
Of course, we may have to transfer some of these services to the new Department of Higher Education and Training, as hon members might be aware. The new Department of Higher Education and Training is part of the government's attempt to integrate education and training and further the drive to consolidate and do more in serving our people.
We are involved in discussions that are aimed at ensuring a smooth transition to avoid possible loss of momentum and see how best we can safeguard the future of working places as learning sites. There are some legal aspects that we may bring to Parliament for hon members to assist by amending certain sections of the existing Skills Development Act. We have also concluded discussions with the Minister in The Presidency with regard to the transfer of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund to the National Youth Development Agency.
The work that flows from the transfer process of functions to the new department will not, however, interrupt some of the processes currently under way that the law requires us to comply with. These include the reconstitution of the National Skills Authority, the review of the Seta landscape and the development of the National Skills Development Strategy, amongst other things. We need to establish a task team, led by the respective department acting directors-general, and I will keep the portfolio committee updated on these developments.
We will review our labour laws. I am keeping quiet as I was hoping the DA would clap! [Interjections.] I have never said this in any year before.
The CHAIRPERSON: Hon Minister, you have two minutes left.
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Well, thank you very much. I end with that sentence. Because I only have two minutes left of the 20 minutes I have been given, hon members will get that information some other time. Don't complain when I say, "some other time" – it is due to a situation not under my control. Thank you, Chairperson.
The CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, hon Minister. You didn't complete your two minutes! [Applause.]
Ms L E YENGENI
THE MINISTER OF LABOUR
Nksz L E YENGENI: Sihlalo obekekileyo, Mphathiswa obekekielyo, maLungu ePalamente abekekileyo,
Honmembers, guests, ladies and gentlemen in thegallery, ndiyanibhotisa. I have chosen four main areas to focus on as my contribution to this Budget Vote. I will touch on skills development, the UIF, the Compensation Fund and labour brokering.
I do, however, also want to touch briefly on the productivity of our workforce in the country. This is an area that we should all be interested in watching carefully in going forward.
In the context of skills development, we support the integration of education and training and the transfer of the Skills Development Programme to the Department of Higher Education, because we understand that skills development - which is highly involved - is but one of the training programmes.
However, we would like to raise the aspect of unintended consequences, that the element of all job creation should not be affected, and neither should the productivity structure, or the programme of re-establishing the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, QCTO.
The Unemployment Insurance Act is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation that the Department of Labour has in hand. It takes account of the most vulnerable sectors of our working people, the domestic workers and farm workers. It has, no doubt, evolved over time and the Minister, despite all the criticism he has received in the past, should be commended for spearheading those revolutionary changes to the Act. Of course, given the sector it addresses, it is unavoidable that with the implementation of this Act there will be problems.
We commend you, hon Minister, for the improvements made to this fund. We know that at some point in the past it was very popular with Scopa, but recently it recorded reserves. As a committee, Minister, we would be keen to engage with you and your department on how to further improve this very important Act. In particular, we know that there are debates around how we should further open up the fund to either give more, or admit a wider section of the unemployed at this difficult time of the global economic melt down.
Ngokubhekisele kwiNgxowa-mali yeMbuyekezo akukho nto ibuhlungu njengovuka ngonyezi endlini yakho ushiya iincukuthu neentwala zakho usiya kuxelenga, ufike emsebenzini wonzakale ube ngumlwelwe,akukho nomnye onqwenela into enjalo.
I am informed that this section, however, is what one would call a "black sheep" in the overall good work of the department. The Compensation Fund is plagued by huge administrative problems, huge capacity problems, and is fraught with corruption. It is not only some officials who are corrupt; sometimes there is collusion between doctors, patients and officials. It does look bad.
Our view is that this unit plays a very critical role, especially when one considers workers in dangerous work situations such as those found in the construction industry. Aligned with this unit, the inspectorate of the Department of Labour should be re-enforced so that they are able to inspect work places in advance so as to prevent incidents or injuries. That means they should be proactive.
Hon Minister, we would like you to focus on the Compensation Fund and we would welcome a more detailed discussion about it, so that we can understand more clearly those issues that bedevil this good institution. We would, as always, want to see where we can also help as MPs. We are not just pointing fingers at the problem; we stand ready to roll up our sleeves and help where we can.
On the issue of labour brokering, there are indeed pieces of legislation in place to protect workers, their jobs and the many other conditions that will lead to decent working conditions.
However, the adoption of the Private Employment Agencies Convention, PEAC, in 1997, by the International Labour Organisation which recognises labour brokering, brought about unintended consequences globally. Labour brokering is the replacement of formal standard employment by nonstandard employment. This causes workers to lose their permanent status, as they are employed by a third party. The nature of the employment is regarded as temporary, part-time, or outsourced - that is, the worker is from outside.
The reason given by companies to embark on labour brokering is that they have to focus on the core functions of the business. However, the main objective is to save costs by reducing the cost of labour, especially unskilled labour. Trade unions and progressive liberation movements, like the ANC, strongly object to this naked exploitation of workers by labour brokers.
This form of employment contract gives labour brokers the freedom to pay workers as they wish, change the number of workers and decide where and when work is to be contracted. The sectors of our population that are most affected by this form of exploitation are domestic workers, farm workers and security guards. The statistics show that about 400 000 mineworkers are subcontracted.
According to the research done so far, there is concurring evidence that labour standards are generally eroded in some or all respects in the following categories. Firstly, in theory, workers are protected under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act as far as the condition of work is concerned. However, that is not always the case with the part-time and temporary workers.
The situation is worsened by the contracts which temporary workers enter into with the Transformation and Entrepreneurship Scheme, where such contracts explicitly disregard the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
Secondly, in terms of employment security, workers are covered by legislation and, in instances of unfair dismissal, the employer would have to give reasons to the CCMA. However, for temporary workers, the legislation is based on the premise that ideally, the worker would have agreed to employment on a temporary basis. It fails to acknowledge other compelling factors that place workers in a vulnerable position, such as having to choose between unemployment and temporary unemployment.
Lastly, on the issue of organisational rights, it must be borne in mind that it is extremely difficult to organise part-time and temporary workers, due to the nature of their work. The current definition of a workplace, under the Labour Relations Act, makes it difficult for unions to organise this section of workers. This is because the workplace, where workers conduct their work, is not actually controlled by their employer, but is in fact the workplace of a client.
What could be the problem with the current labour legislation? It does not fully recognise the changing nature of the work relationship. As a consequence of labour brokering and casualisation, there are few workers in standard employment relationships. Although the Labour Relations Act already defines temporary employment services – that is, labour brokers - the existing definition is arguably, however, not adequate and needs to be harmonised with the definition of "employment services for gain" in the Skills Development Act.
Even in cases where the CCMA could have a major role in defending the vulnerable, the legitimacy of labour brokering with the legislation, makes it difficult to protect workers. For example, when the CCMA reports on the number of cases referred to it, and conciliated and arbitrated by it, its main focus should be on the number of cases that the institution dismissed based on the "out of jurisdiction" defence. Employers are therefore finding a loophole in the definition by arguing that the person was never employed by them. It is on this contractual argument that the CCMA refers to such cases as "out of jurisdiction".
The existence of labour brokers in the labour market is due to open space created by the current labour law. Firstly, the legislation regards labour brokering as a legitimate activity. It also defines the broker as an employer of the worker it provides to a client. The law does not provide an active means to monitor labour brokering.
Labour brokering is a form of temporary employment service in the country. In another study of labour brokering, it is suggested that labour legislation has been the impetus for externalisation.
Basically, the externalisation of work – or labour-brokering - forced government, unions, business and everyone affected to go back to the drawing board in order to come up with some new solutions to the new forms of challenges expressed in the new employer-employee relation. Proposals to amend the law are in order. In South Africa, the laws making labour brokering legal were passed before the new Constitution came into effect.
Other limitations and weaknesses regarding the Namibian court ruling include the fact that the judgement relies on outdated law, and does not take into consideration the labour conversation.
In conclusion, South African labour legislation is comprehensive and most progressive. However, certain challenges, such as those stated above, compromise the protection of the most vulnerable groups in the workforce.
The ANC supports the Budget. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr A LOUW
Ms L E YENGENI
Mr A LOUW: Chairperson and hon members, it is indeed an honour as a novice to echo the views of the many unsung men and women of our country.
It is regrettable to see how many people are losing their jobs, how many companies are closing down and how unemployment is increasing daily. It is against this backdrop that the DA, as the custodian of the open-opportunity society, offers the following keys: employment vouchers to subsidise the wages of first-time workers; special exemption from certain conditions of the Labour Act; exemption for medium and small firms from cumbersome regulations in order to encourage them to employ more people; and decentralised minimum wage negotiations to allow greater autonomy, especially in the labour-intensive sectors like agriculture.
One of the policy priorities in the Department of Labour is to strengthen labour market institutions such as the National Economic Development and Labour Council, the Labour Court and the CCMA so as to address bottlenecks in the labour market and to ensure the smooth functioning of the labour market.
Needless to say, people are held hostage by the likes of race-based affirmative action. This has resulted in many skilled people leaving our shores and because of that, a massive brain drain.
The consequences of about a million skilled people emigrating a decade ago have been more job losses. The time has come for South Africa to focus all our spending on consumption. We should urgently introduce wage subsidy schemes that make it cheaper and easier for employers to bring first-time job seekers into the labour market.
The Minister said in Johannesburg after addressing a meeting of the Motor Transport Workers' Union:
I am almost certain we may have to amend the legislation soon. I see labour brokers as a problem, and it's a problem we must work at. We must address this problem and it's a battle we must fight, and it's a battle we must win, and now is the time - now or never.
Ek wil vriendelik, dog ernstig namens die arbeidsmakelaars 'n versoek rig aan die Minister dat die saak met nugtere denke aangepak moet word. Indien daar van die arbeidsmakelaars ontslae geraak sou word in hierdie moeilike ekonomiese omstandighede, hoe sal diegene wat tans deur die arbeidsmakelaars van werk voorsien word, beholpe raak?
Daar bestaan geen twyfel oor die feit dat volhoubare werksgeleenthede nie deur die Uitgebreide Publieke Werke Program alleen bewerkstellig kan word nie. Alternatiewe metodes sal in die lewe geroep moet word.
The Compensation Fund was established to ensure that employees are properly cared for if they are injured at work, and that they remain healthy and able to support their families. It is managed by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, Coida.
Since 2000, over one million workplace accidents were reported to the commission. It is a crucial part of South Africa's social welfare net. But, despite recent claims by the commissioner that the commission has improved its performance, the 2008 Auditor-General report shows that it is still failing disastrously to do its job.
Firstly, the Compensation Fund received a disclaimer of opinion from the Auditor-General because of the lack of appropriate records to the tune of R10,16 billion. We ask what the plan to resolve these trends is. Furthermore, the Auditor-General could not express an opinion on the completeness, accuracy or even the existence of claims totalling R1,6 billion because of a backlog in the scanning of claims documents into the fund's electronic document management system. What is the strategy to overhaul this system?
Coida is yet another example of government bureaucracy where nonperformance makes the lives of people, who depend on it, a misery. In the case of the commission, these people are generally poor blue-collar workers who do not have the means to pay for proper health care and insurance for themselves, and who risk losing their jobs as a result of being disabled by inadequate treatment.
It is catastrophic, to say the least, that in the working environment females are still victims of discrimination - discrimination that includes sexual harassment. Labour inspectors are encouraged to ensure that sexual harassment policies are in place and being complied with in all sectors of the workforce. Strict law enforcement should be the order of the day and defaulters should be punished severely in order to root out this evil in our society.
It is unfortunate to notice that within the Department of Labour there are a number of challenges that seem to have remained unresolved for some time. Inadequate capacity, which results in delays in processing claims; failure to provide for electronic submission of documents resulting in large amounts of paper in the organisation and poor record-keeping; outdated and inefficient business processes; the nonexistence of the Inspection Enforcement Strategy, IES, case management system for Coida unreported cases; nonsubmission and delays in reporting accidents and submission of information and documentation, particularly banking details; and compensation amounting to R400 million in unclaimed cheques. What is done to track down these people who may be sleeping without a decent plate of food every night?
It seems that the department uses a carte blanche approach when doing assessments because no proper performance management system, PMS, is in place to do the evaluation.
In conclusion, it is sad to say that those who need this service the most are today at a bigger disadvantage than ever. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr W M MADISHA
Mr A LOUW
Mr W M MADISHA: Chair, the fact that South Africa is in an economic crisis is a foregone conclusion. The President himself has raised this. It is a further foregone conclusion that the crisis permeating our country is a consequence of, inter alia, massive unemployment, migration, forced labour, absence of skills amongst the majority and the incapacity of officials to administer resources. The Minister himself notes this in his input.
What we need to do is to emerge with a plan that will help us address these momentous challenges we face. We must ask that given that South Africa is faced with more than 4 million unemployed people today - a figure that is likely to triple during the life of this Parliament - what is it that we need to see achieved to address these momentous challenges? Once we have identified our strategic objectives, then we should work backwards to make available proper material and human resources in the quest to achieve those strategic objectives.
The weaknesses in this proposed budget are that it merely says we want to create 500 000 jobs. This is unscientific and will lead the country into a further, very long economic crisis. The proposed strategy – and this is evident in the proposed budget – indicates that the jobs you intend producing will enjoy the absence of permanence and quality. They will instead last an average of three months mainly during construction, as is presently the case.
Although we welcome the recognition that casual labour and labour brokers are a problem that needs urgent attention, we are concerned about the migration of factories from one province to the other in search of cheap black labour. Through its budget, government must make available resources, both human and material, to ensure the protection of such factories.
This intervention must include government's review of the existing legislation that deals with corporate insolvency for purposes of strengthening companies in distress and protecting jobs, including through the stabilisation fund.
The budget must also include the destruction of illegal forms of labour such as happens in the mines. There must be a budget included for a women's development fund, which will assist women to engage in economic productivity.
Both the President, as well as the budget proposed today, pledges to make available more resources to the CCMA in order to protect jobs. But the CCMA does not have the capacity needed to stick to all identified targets. It fails to hasten the awarding of arbitration awards and hasn't contributed enough to save workers from exploitation by labour courts. Without attention given to these problems, we do not envisage any success to save workers.
Your proposed budget must ensure that our people are skilled enough for them to survive. For example, by simply removing Setas from where they are presently without capacitating them, they will never assist us. Capacitate them so as to ensure that they in turn can skill the people.
As it is at the moment, your proposed budget simply intends availing more resources to various labour institutions without any proper assessment of their work and without checking whether the resources they already possess are being spent properly. We give the example of the UIF, which has a surplus of R9,2 billion which should be going to those who have lost their jobs. But unfortunately, this is not happening at all.
We should ensure that the money goes to those people who no longer have limbs and who are facing momentous problems of all kinds in those factories on a daily basis. But the R9,2 million that has been lying there for very many years ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON: Hon Madisha, try to wrap up.
Mr W M MADISHA: Thank you. So we are faced with very serious problems, Minister. We, from our side, say we need to work together to make sure that we deal with these problems. I hope you will assist those who are booing because they still have a problem. They will grow, don't worry. Thank you. [Laughter.] [Applause.]
Mr V B NDLOVU
Mr W M MADISHA
Mnu V B NDLOVU: Angibonge Sihlalo, mhlonishwa Ngqongqoshe namalunga ahloniphekile.
It is heartening to know that there is an agreement between government and labour on how to deal with retrenchment. The National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, has to create a platform where labour will be able to negotiate while employers accommodate those negotiations.
It is imperative that it is not only the government that has to create work, but that the private sector does its share. The skilling of workers has to be done in such a way that employers can absorb them. It will be useless to skill people in order for them to stay at home doing nothing. Skilled workers should use their skills to establish a small business and not only look for work.
Government must create an environment conducive to starting a small business. Red tape must be minimised. Small development agencies must actively assist those workers, who want to start businesses, financially and otherwise.
The Department of Labour must limit the use of labour brokers and allow employers to employ people without using a middle person.
Yini kube nomsindo omningi kangaka, ngikhuluma? [Interjections.]
The CHAIRPERSON: Order! Hon members, let us allow the member to be heard.
Mr V B NDLOVU: If people have been skilled enough to present themselves and write a proper curriculum vitae, why should there be any need for a middle person. The same goes for Setas which cannot fulfil their mandate. The department must not fund Setas which cannot deliver what is required of them.
If the slogan that says, "working together we can do more" is to be achieved, negotiations with workers must be undertaken honestly and in good faith, no matter how unpalatable the truth is. Let workers know the difficulties industries encounter, and let workers be part of the solution. Both sides should trust each other when negotiating packages.
Should workers be reasonable? Yes and no. The answer is yes because half a loaf is better than no bread at all. This does not mean that workers should abandon their principles or goals. Compromise is the name of the game when a situation is against you.
The IFP does not support the single public service model for many reasons. One of these is that we do not believe in the centralisation of power but rather decentralisation.
The IFP always looks forward to a bottom-up approach rather than a top-down approach. While the skills of our public servants are appreciated, we should not change the three-sphere system of government and make it into one.
The one-tier system encourages the employment of staff who do not qualify for and who are not needed in those positions. Deployment of cadres should be discouraged at all costs. This has crippled our public service and many departments, for example, Home Affairs.
A suitable candidate should be appointed to a position that he or she is qualified for. The department needs to re-examine the Labour Relations Act together with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act in order to create an environment conducive to business and for more people to be employed instead of resorting to buying machinery which is operated by only one or two people.
The private sector must be encouraged to create a labour-intensive atmosphere to create employment. Ngiyathokoza, Sihlalo. [Thank you, Chairperson.]
Mr W D SPIES
Mr V B NDLOVU
Mr W D SPIES: Chairperson, hon Minister and members, first of all I would like to congratulate the Minister on his reappointment as the Minister of Labour. Unlike the SABC board, the Minister managed to make the transition from the Mbeki regime to the Zuma regime without missing a single goose step. I think that is quite an accomplishment for any politician in this country. [Laughter.]
Minister, I also want to congratulate you on something else, and that is the tremendous success you have made of the policy of affirmative action. Over the last 15 years, 2,6 million black South Africans have been uplifted to the ranks of South Africa's top earners. This is indeed an accomplishment, and we need to congratulate you and your department on that. [Applause.]
But this accomplishment also has had certain unintended consequences, hon Minister, which I would like to bring to your attention.
Vierhonderd duisend blanke Suid-Afrikaners het verval in die mees desperate armoede denkbaar, Minister, en daar moet maniere gevind word hoe hierdie mense geleenthede gegee kan word en uitgelig kan word uit die omstandighede waarin hierdie beleidsrigtings hulle geplaas het. Dit is noodsaaklik.
In hierdie verband wil ek u ook baie graag wys op die onlangse uitspraak van oud-president F W De Klerk wat gesê het die huidige toepassing van regstellende aksie en die oordrewe klem op verteenwoordiging as maatstaf vir die sukses, al dan nie, van regstellende aksie is rassisties en ongrondwetlik, en dat dit nooit die bedoeling was van die grondwetskrywers en die persone wat die historiese skikking van 1994 bereik het nie.
Ons moet kennis neem van hierdie sake, Minister, en ons moet maniere vind waarop hierdie onbedoelde gevolge aangespreek word in die tyd wat kom.
Laastens, Minister – en ek is dankbaar dat u weer die Minister is sodat ons hierdie saak kan verder voer - ek het drie jaar gelede onder u aandag gebring die lot van 'n oud-adjunkdirekteur van die departement, Mnr Jaap Jacobs. Ek sal vir u 'n brief skryf daaroor. Ek dank u. [Tyd verstreke.]
Ms C DUDLEY
Mr W D SPIES
Ms C DUDLEY: Chairperson, hon Ministers, although statistics suggest it is impossible, the ACDP sincerely hopes that President Zuma's target of creating half a million jobs by the end of this year is realised. Of course the bulk of jobs envisioned will be realised through the public works initiative, and will therefore only relieve pressure for a period of time.
This will place workers back in a market which may not yet have recovered from recession or where economic recovery has a time lag in absorbing the unemployed and where fewer jobs are available due to automation. Utilisable skills development is therefore crucial if this sort of job creation is to be more than a flash in the pan.
The ACDP is therefore pleased to see the budget increase of about 150% in the Employment and Skills Development Services and Human Resources Development Programme. This should have a particular benefit to youth development and employment programmes.
In order to create good, honest work, more must be done to attract and encourage industries to relocate to South Africa from the wider global arena. Relocation incentives would have to include the necessary infrastructure and training facilities for relevant skills to facilitate these industries.
Employment creation efforts must be directed towards taking local and external labour-intensive factories to rural communities. This would help strengthen families by keeping breadwinners close to home; alleviate poverty; improve access to goods and services; and may actually draw people away from cities, helping restore the population balance which presently contributes to xenophobia and other antisocial behaviour as people are subjected to urban crush.
Growing concerns that attempts to ban labour brokers could seriously undermine job creation are backed by reports that the banning of labour brokers in Namibia resulted in 30% of all contractors losing their jobs.
Whilst we support legislation that protects workers and ensures an avenue of recourse, the ACDP does not condone risking hundreds of thousands of jobs. Surely we should regulate rather than ban.
Lastly, along with employment and the alleviation of poverty must come a national ethos of hard work. The ACDP would like to know what percentage of the budget is being spent on public campaigns to inspire and encourage this.
We look forward to the Minister's statement on amendments to the labour law. The ACDP will support this Vote.
Mr E NYEKEMBA
Ms C DUDLEY
Mr E NYEKEMBA: Chairperson, the Minister of Labour, hon members, I will deal with three areas in this Budget debate. I will add to the area of labour broking and outsourcing, the CCMA and the Setas.
We understand and appreciate the fact that Nedlac is facilitating a meeting that has to take place next month around the issue of labour broking. But I must say, whereas labour broking is regulated in terms of section 198 of the Labour Relations Act, the reality of the matter is that labour brokers attempt to be employers, but employers who do not own workplaces.
This process leads to a situation where even certain sections of the Labour Relations Act cannot be applicable to labour broker employees. This is because when trade unions intend to have meetings for purposes of recruiting and reporting back to members, they cannot do so as the primary employer will say that those employees are not employees of the primary employer but of the secondary employer, who might have offices somewhere else and not in the workplace itself.
Labour broking and outsourcing, in our view, do not contribute to the decent work we are talking about. This is because labour brokers do not conform to the standards of labour that exist.
Let me go on to the CCMA. While the CCMA's annual report of 2007-08 reflected progress in its plan known as the Tsoso Strategy, there are still challenges. These challenges are not favourable to ordinary workers who do not have trade unions for representations. Most employers go to the CCMA and they have legal representation as the law allows them to make such requests. But this becomes a disadvantage to ordinary workers who do not have resources to have legal representation.
The other challenge in this public utility is that which the hon Yengeni spoke about: the issue of jurisdiction by the CCMA particularly when attending to matters that have been referred by unions or individuals who are employed by labours broker in particular. Primary employers refuse to be made respondents to such cases. This is the one area that needs to be visited because it makes workers to be vulnerable.
The other area is the service of interpreters. Sign language is one service that is not adequate when it comes to labour matters. This is an issue that we believe the CCMA, whilst it does good work in certain areas, needs to address.
I think it is important to draw a distinction between processes of the Labour Court and processes of the CCMA, because the Labour Court is within the competency of the judicial Ministry and not the CCMA. Once an issue is out of the CCMA, it goes to the Labour Court. Then the CCMA and the Department of Labour do not have anything to do with that. I think maybe the Minister needs to do something to ensure that members, particularly in this committee, understand the relationship between these public utilities.
The last point I would like to speak about is the Setas. In a way of protecting current jobs, we take it that it is important that Setas are expected to dirty their hands by determining trends of production processes in advance, because that will enable the Setas to identify areas of upskilling in the process.
Furthermore, partnerships between Setas and science and technology are important because science and technology does determine the forms of equipment that need to be used in production processes. Therefore, the interventions and partnerships of Setas will assist in terms of developing a programme that will not result in a situation where workers lose their jobs as a result of the installation of new technology.
Ms A M DREYER: What about corruption?
Mr E NYEKEMBA: The skills development levy collected needs to reflect training given to the people in need. Training that has been provided through the processes of Setas need to reflect how many women benefited as a result of such processes, including the youth. [Interjections.]
I did not hear anything about corruption in the Setas. If someone has heard something, that person will have his or her opportunity to speak about that. I am speaking about what I was supposed to speak about. Thank you very much. We support the Budget. [Applause.]
Mr R B BHOOLA
Mr E NYEKEMBA
Mr R B BHOOLA: Chairperson, South Africa has had a very terrible past in terms of exploiting the broad masses of the workers. I want to compliment the trade unions in as much as they have adhered, sometimes they are disliked. I would also like to congratulate the Minister on his effective and efficient management of labour issues.
The greatest improvement that has been made in South Africa is workers reform and also improving the laws of the workers. And in this respect, I am very pleased to note that our Deputy President has highlighted the fact of the healthy working relationship South Africa has with its social partners and the wonderful harmony and co-ordination and that labour is respected.
In view of the national legislation and whatever government does, the MF is of the view that we must introduce the dole system. Because when our manpower is affected at a time of recession and there is a loss of jobs, our workers that contribute to the mass power of this country, are our greatest wealth.
Our human resources play a very important role in respect of the development of our country and therefore the MF will want to really compliment the government on the wonderful harmony and the relationship we have with our human resources, and that is our manpower sector.
The MF supports fully the notion to develop a good, decent working programme. The MF will support the vote. [Applause.]
Mr I M OLLIS
Mr R B BHOOLA
Mr I M OLLIS: Chairperson, Minister, hon members and our guests, I thank the Minister for his challenging speech just now.
Yes, South Africa has clearly entered the recession that we hoped to avoid. This will have a profound effect on employment and if we look at the number of new jobs created in the past financial year through the efforts of the Department of Labour, then we are never going to achieve anything like the 500 000 jobs that the President is exercised about, unless significant changes are made to our business plan and our budget.
What practical measures are being put into place in order to achieve these necessary jobs? With the Setas being moved to Higher Education, Nedlac also being moved out of the department and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund being incorporated into the National Youth Development Agency, there will be fewer resources in this department with which to carry out that presidential mandate.
The Setas have consistently underperformed when one looks at their performance in the reports that we got over the past few years - and I have read them. Many have qualified audits, with a few notable exceptions. They have failed the department's own scorecard evaluation – one does not even need to read about it in the media.
Business Day reported in 2007, and again in 2008, that members of the ANC have acknowledged that Setas had failed. On 27 August 2007 and 20 April 2009, Mr Mathews Phosa was even quoted as saying that most of the Setas were a disaster. We must, therefore, ask: Why are we still sitting with these dysfunctional entities?
Some years ago, I was employed under the jurisdiction of one of the Setas to do some training. I was paid R500 per day to train deaf students. I then discovered that the person who employed me was actually supposed to do the training himself and was paid R1 200 per day to do the job. The company that employed him was paid even more to get him to do the job, and he ended up getting me to do the job, which I did not know at the time.
During that time it come to light that the two companies who were going to take the learners on to run a call centre cancelled the opportunity. Suddenly a class full of deaf learners were being trained to run a call centre that didn't exist. How ridiculous! I am still not sure that a single one of the people I taught has received any actual paid employment or learned any skills that were appropriate to their disabled status.
Johan Rupert put the problem of skills acquisition best in his 2008 Anton Rupert Memorial Lecture at the University of Pretoria, and I quote:
Too often, however, empowerment has resulted in the enrichment of the few rather than the many, leaving behind a vast army of uneducated, unemployed people. This can only be addressed by a far more effective nationwide programme of skills training. There are no unemployed carpenters, stonemasons, electricians or plumbers in South Africa, or anywhere else for that matter.
The apprentice system needs to be reinstated and the basic educational system oriented towards economically useful skills. The Seta system is mismanaged and it simply does not work. Ask anybody who has ever asked for a grant and he can tell you.
I would appeal to the Minister and the new cabinet today to reconsider this decision to simply move the Setas to the Department of Higher Education, and instead replace this inefficient system with a simple apprenticeship system to train artisans and others, who are so desperately needed by the corporate and industrial complex.
Mike Macrae, who manages artisan skills training at Sasol Synfuels pointed out in 2007 that the training of artisans in South Africa has collapsed. The numbers are dramatic, and he points out that -
National statistics on artisan training show a dramatic decrease from about 33 000 apprentices in 1975, to 7 500 in 1990, and 3 000 in 2000; the 2005 intake dropped to 1 440 people.
Mr I M OLLIS: Let me say a word about labour brokers. They are currently being debated by this department and we believe that as many as 3,7 million people are employed on a temporary or short-term basis in South Africa. I note the references to the labour brokers by almost everybody in the House today.
The hon Minister has been reported in the press castigating many labour brokers for exploiting workers. According to reports in the press, he has referred to labour broking as human trafficking and claimed that companies sold workers to the highest bidder, and called this a criminal activity.
Unfortunately, these inflammatory statements make no distinction between bona fide employment agencies, such as the Kelly Group, Adcorp or companies like these, who find temporary work for the unemployed people out there. And the distinction is not there between unscrupulous labour brokers who violate the basic human and constitutional rights of their workers.
However, these distinctions do exist and they must be emphasised. Is the Minister seriously implying that Kelly Girl is engaging in human trafficking because they place temporary secretaries in air-conditioned offices in Sandton? Clearly, we need to draw distinctions between these brokers. [Interjections.]
As far back as 2003 at the Labour Law Conference, the Minister referred to the fact that labour brokers should be stopped because of exploitation – and exploitation is a bad thing. However, this begs the question: Where are the amendments? If the Minister and the department had known about the exploitation of workers by labour brokers since 2003 at the very least, then why do we not have before us today an amendment to the Labour Relations Act or regulations to protect the workers?
I would urge the Minister to desist from sparking panic in the industry with threats of shutting down all labour brokers and instead concentrate the efforts of the department on coming up with measures to protect workers most at risk.
Is new legislation actually what is required? Just yesterday I called the head of a labour brokerage to talk to him about this matter. He commented that he had been in the business for over 10 years ... [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr H P CHAUKE
Mr I M OLLIS
Mr H P CHAUKE: Chairperson, you see, the DA has a tendency of abusing its members, especially if you were to go back to the past Parliament when hon Joe Seremane was made to be the only person in the DA who talked about affirmative action. I am not surprised again today by hon Louw.
As much as we affirm you, it is in fact the ANC that has made it possible for you to be where you are today, because if it were not for the ANC, you were not going to be there. Now, this is why you should understand why we have to engage in the struggle to liberate ourselves and the DA. We have made it possible for you today; you are sitting in the front bench of the DA.
Therefore, the issue of affirmative action is something that will not leave. We are going to continue affirming - empowering our people at all levels. I'm going to share some experiences with you. You must understand these experiences are the experiences that come from the constituency I represent. I will come to that point later.
On the issue of the CCMA vis-à-vis the Labour Court, I think hon Nyekembe has made it very clear. Hon Madisha, by now you are supposed to be a master of these things. As a former unionist, you are supposed to understand the jurisdiction of the CCMA vis-à-vis Labour Courts. But it is not surprising; obviously, that's why you are currently trying to form a new union because of that confusion, and I am very worried about those who will join that union when you cannot even understand the role of the Labour Court.
Now, with regard to uBab'u Ndlovu, I think I agree with you today for the first time; you have sort of confirmed that there are problems with Home Affairs. For 10 years when Minister Buthelezi was heading it you defended it throughout. But today I think you accept that there are challenges. It's because he is no longer a Minister now! [Laughter.]
Definitely, that is why I was fighting and we will continue fighting. We will continue taking the fight of accountability very seriously; even with this department we are going to do the same.
Therefore, Minister, the people who represent the core of the Afrikaner … Hon Spies, I think I am very happy that you commend the work that is being done by the ANC-led government on affirmative action.
I think there is free education that we must give to the DA, especially to Mr Louw himself. I think you have to make that arrangement to try to help them to understand these issues. Let me just go back to the points that I wanted to raise.
Ke tswa ke le tulong ya Masepala wa Selehae wa Kgetleng, lebatoweng la Bojanala sebakeng se bitswang Swartruggens. Tulo ena ke tulo ya dipolasi tse tsamaiswang ke Maburu. Ha ho na le motho e motsho ya teng ya tsamaisang polasi kapa ya nang le polasi tulong eo.
Seo re se fetisang ke hore dilemong tse 10 tse fetileng, bongata ba basebetsi ba dipolasi, ba lelekuwe mosebetsing. Ba lelekwa mosebetsing hobane makgowa a ne a tshaba hore hobane batho bana, ba dutse dilemo tse ngata, ba bang ba bona ba dutse dipolasing tseo ho feta dilemo tse 50.
Ka melao eo re e fetisang ya hore basebetsi ba dipolasi ba na le ditokelo tsa bona tsa ho dula dipolasing tseno, ha ho na motho ya ka ba tebelang.
Maburu a bona hore ho bohlokwa hore ba ba ntshe dipolasing mme ba ba sebedise ka ho tshwana le makgoba moo e leng hore nako le nako ba tla ba lata lekeisheneng, mekhukhung ho ya ba sebedisa dipolasing mme ba ba ntshe hape mantsiboea, ba ba kgutlisetse lekeisheneng. Jwale mathata ana, Letona, ke mathata ao e leng hore bongata ba basebetsi bana ba dipolasi, ha ho motho ya ba emelang. Mokgatlo o lekang ho thusana le bona, ke wona wa Cosatu.
You know that the farmers' union, especially in the Skierlik and Swartruggens areas, are very vocal, but we are not getting any support from white farmers themselves in making sure that we are able to champion and help the plight of those workers.
So I think that is going to be the responsibility not only of the ANC, because it's only the ANC that deals with these problems every day. You go and read on your laptops, you get research documents and you come and speak in Parliament, but the ANC is very practical on the ground in dealing with these challenges.
Last month a quarry called Mazista Quarry, where they are mining with natural stone had to close down. Over 300 workers had to lose their jobs. There was no CCMA process, no Nedlac process – no processes. They just closed down and people just have to find a way.
We have to intervene from the constituency point of view. But the ANC had to intervene by calling in the department, even to provide food for these workers who had not been paid for a period of over two months.
We even took up the matter with the department, with the Minister, to say we need your intervention. For two months people had not been paid. They are staying in that quarry with their children and they don't even go to school. And it's a problem that all of us confront. Every day we are confronted by these things but nobody is picking up those issues, except ourselves.
Therefore, Minister, I want to really make this strong proposal that the CCMA needs to begin to move to those rural areas. We need to create offices in those areas, because if you had to look at where the CCMA offices are, they are in Rustenburg, in town, which is over 90 km away from that area.
If you call them, Minister, it will take them almost three weeks or four weeks - even the Department of Labour - to go there and help those workers.
Therefore, the call that we are making is that let us have CCMA offices on the ground there intervening, especially to deal with issues of farm workers. And those small mines there, those quarries, are not covered by anybody.
In fact, every now and then people get fired or they get injured at work and nobody is covering them. Even the union takes time to reach those people. I am saying that there is, in fact, a need to create a special arrangement to focus on the farm workers and all of us know the condition of those farm workers in those areas.
Minister, the other point that I want to raise is that in all of those areas almost 90% of the people are unemployed and these are the areas that the Nedlac social plan that is in place must focus on. That social plan must target those vulnerable areas, because always when we speak we talk about big cities, we talk about workers and big industries and we always forget these vulnerable workers on the ground.
Therefore that social plan needs to be unpacked. I think as a committee we will have to engage with Nedlac on that social plan to understand exactly what that social plan is and how it will intervene, especially with this economic crisis that we are faced with, to make sure our ordinary people on the ground in those rural areas are benefiting from the social plan.
On that note, Minister, I want to thank you very much and really wish you well on your reappointment. I think as a committee we are looking forward, uBab'u Ndlovu, to be working very close with the Minister, making sure that we are able to deal with these challenges.
The issues the President has raised about the 5 000 jobs - it is not the Department of Labour that is going to create these jobs. In fact, the Minister of the Department of Public Works was sitting here about two days ago making announcements on the Public Works Programmes, as to how they are going to roll out those 5 000 jobs.
Therefore, let us not confuse the role of the Department of Labour with the Department of Public works. [Interjections.] Ma'am, I know that you were in the army at some point, so when you speak, you always speak like a commander. Try to lower your voice a little bit! [Laughter.]
But I think that because we are part of and serving in one committee together, we will not need commanders or generals here. So when you speak try and lower your voice; we will hear the point that you are raising.
On that note, Minister, we think that with this global economic challenge that we are faced with, together we can do more, together we will have to close ranks. We will have to make sure that we protect jobs and where we are able to create jobs at the municipality level, at the provincial level, we, as this Parliament, need to give support to these initiatives. I thank you very much. [Applause.]
THE MINISTER OF LABOUR
Mr H P CHAUKE
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Thank you, Chairperson; working together we can do more.
The hon member is right when he says that 500 000 jobs have been unpacked by the Minister of Public Works. I want to inform the hon members - I don't know why they are not aware of this - that most of those workers, including those involved in past EPWPs, were trained by the Department of Labour.
Hon Willie Madisha knows that, because Cosatu, Fedusa and Nactu, had a job creation trust. He chaired that trust. In fact, I reminded him many times that he never commended the Department of Labour. Yet, in all the reports that he provided, the training was done by the Department of Labour. Their training was done by either the Department of Labour or the Department of Environmental Affairs, but they never, not even once, expressed their gratitude to this government of the ANC.
This is for the benefit of the hon members so that they know that you have to win elections - sometimes I must just brag a bit. On page 25 of the manifesto of the ANC it says the following, and I'm going to read it slowly to you because we must implement this:
In order to avoid exploitation of workers and ensure decent work for all workers as well as to protect the employment relationship, introduce laws to regulate contract work, subcontracting, outsourcing, address the problem of labour brokering and prohibit certain abusive practices …
And therefore, sir, whether you like it or not, ideologically we are poles apart. The ANC will do it. That's what I want I want to tell you: I represent that organisation. I may not be a member of the NEC, but I am a member of the ANC.
I won't be able to respond to all the questions that members have raised, but I want to respond to the question on labour brokering. I would like to know why the middleman is needed. It is a very important question, Mr Ndlovu. Hallelujah!
In fact, the bulk of the problems in KwaZulu-Natal are around this question. That is why we end up having tension between the farm workers and the farmers up in the north. This is so precisely because the people are now controlling the farms are no longer the farm owners. They are these funny little people who stand at the gates when we go and do inspections. They, not the farm owners, are the ones who want to control access. To us this is wrong and it must not be accepted in this country of mine.
You know, that study we did in which eight CCMA and Labour Court cases were examined, showed that a key problem experienced in many cases is the difficulty of identifying the correct employer in the specific instance. So we have to define the employer, we have to define the work place, and we have to define what we mean by temporary employment. We will be submitting amendments here in order to close all the loopholes.
By the way, sir, labour brokers do not create jobs. If they say they say they are creating jobs, they are lying to you. They provide a service to their clients.
Furthermore, sir, I can remind you of the second major problem with these clients. The problem they create is the difficulty of determining whether there has been a dismissal. This problem arises because the temporary employment service is the employer of the worker temporarily placed with a client. Dismissal can therefore only be by way of termination of the contract by the temporary employment service.
However, the temporary employment service hardly ever has a reason to terminate, because the worker does not work for the temporary employment service. It is therefore the client that effectively dismisses the worker because it depends on whether the worker has produced the right goods and if client is not satisfied, then it is the client that dismisses the worker.
We cannot allow that to continue in our law, because our own Constitution defines the labour Law as determining the regulation of the relationship between the employer and employee. That's the matter that we must address. I repeat, that the ANC is not making promises on this matter; we commit ourselves to it. [Interjections.]
Let me tell you something, because I see you are a new member in Parliament. In 2003, hon member, we were asked by Nedlac to investigate this phenomenon. We did - the Department of Labour spent a lot of money doing it - and we tabled the report at Nedlac at the time when hon Willy Madisha was the president of Cosatu. They sat with the problem there at Nedlac for years and years.
The ANC is government. We cannot continue having discussions upon discussions while people are being exploited. Therefore the discussions have to come to an end. That is why we have decided that we will table our proposals at the same Nedlac. You either do it or the horse will bolt from the stable because the ANC has a majority here in Parliament and we will make sure that we save workers from exploitation.
I don't see any ANC members opposing this because it is contained on page 25 of their own manifesto, "Working together we can do more". That is exactly what we are going to do, hon members. I want to assure you of that.
In fact, when I approached some of the lawyers – I'm not a lawyer – I found that there is not even a legal basis for these labour brokers to operate anyway. This is so because our law defines "temporary employment service" and the Skills Development Act defines "private employment agencies". We don't talk about labour broker and therefore we have to make sure that we nip this in the bud before it starts to take root and grounds itself in the labour market here in South Africa.
May I just say something about the compensation: I am sure you all remember that these problems of compensation have been going on for some time. We had to fire the Compensation Commissioner along with five senior officials and the hon members, who were members of this committee, were fully briefed about that. The reason I am saying that there's a lot of debt there, is because we really need to make sure that we get the assistance to put things right there.
I don't want to mention it, but this is probably making the current commissioner shake in his boots; because if we were able to remove the previous commissioner, what will stop us from removing him if that turnaround strategy is not made to work? I agree with you that we cannot tolerate such a situation.
Remember, I am also a communist, so when you criticise me, I don't spend time looking at whether the criticism is destructive or constructive. There is no smoke without fire. Therefore, when you criticise me, I must do something about it.
That's why I am a preacher because I want to go to heaven. [Laughter.] I don't want to go to hell. That's why I go to church every Sunday so that I can be panel beaten and made ready for heaven. I thought I should say that. [Laughter.]
The other thing that I want to say to the hon member who is a shadow ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skhosana): Order, order, please!
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: I want to say to my shadow, sir, when I dance, you must dance, because my shadow does that. And when I stand at attention, you must also stand at attention.
We will be amending quite a number of our labour laws; and I am sure the hon members now understand that if we are going to define the employer, then it means we must amend the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act, and so on and so forth.
I won't wait for you, sir, so that we can have a very good discussion. I have met Afrikaners here in the Western Cape during the elections and they have told me very good things and I am watching that they do not vote for the DA next time, because at last they understood what the ANC stands for.
I have been a member of the ANC for over thirty years. I knew what I said and I knew why they said so. Cope is going to be swallowed, Cope is going to dissipate and Cope is going to die. Don't even boast about Cope. You have wasted your time there, I can tell you that, because already you have heard what the hon Madisha has said: "I don't think I understand what Cope stands for." So he actually agrees with me, as well as with the hon Papi Kganare.
In closing, I want to say that there's going to be a lot of dust and fireworks in this department, both during this year and in the years to come because it is going to be a difficult five years. On the issues that we have raised we are going to do a lot of boxing, but the one who is fit will survive. I am training very hard to survive you. [Laughter.]
So, the in the next five years we are going to make sure that we address the problems of the labour market.
I want to thank the hon members for supporting us as well as those who openly and enthusiastically said that this Minister did some good work. I have never been praised. It is the first time that I have heard hon Bhoola praising me. Thank you very much, Mr Bhoola. [Laughter.]
The Committee rose at 11:31.
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