Hansard: Appropriation Bill : Debate on Budget Vote No 18 - Labour
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 23 May 2011
No summary available.
EPC – COMMITTEE ROOM: E249
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 Take: 1
TUESDAY, 24 MAY 2011
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – COMMITTEE ROOM E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 10:04.
House Chairperson Mr C T Frolick, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick)
Start of Day
Vote No 18 - Labour:
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Before I introduce the first speaker, may I alert members that we have a podium in the facility this morning, because of the fact that the recording cameras on the one side is not working, so members, especially from the right hand side but also from the left, are then more free to make use of the podium in front of us. I now recognise the hon the Minister of Labour. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: House Chairperson, hon Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and fellow South Africans, this is my first Budget Vote Speech since my appointment as Minister in the Labour portfolio. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the hon President, President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, for entrusting me with this important function, as well as showing confidence in me.
Our Constitution places an injunction on us as government and the democratic state to ensure equality between men and women, between black and white, between urban and rural, between rich and poor. It is this Constitutional ethos that drives the work of the Department of Labour. In other words, it is not possible for South Africa to speak of a well-developed society on the basis of equality and justice in isolation of improved economic efficiency and productivity, employment creation, sound labour relations, eliminating inequality and discrimination in the workplace, alleviating poverty and unemployment, enhancing occupational health and safety awareness and compliance in the workplace, as well as nurturing the culture of acceptance that worker rights are human rights.
Essentially, this is what the mandate of the Department of Labour is all about. These policies and programmes that regulate the labour market are developed in consultation with our social partners. In its assumption of administration, government, through the President, placed a priority on job creation through meaningful economic transformation and inclusive roles. This is a task that has got to be undertaken with dedication, commitment and a higher level of vigour. It would require that the Department of Labour together with its social partners – organised labour, organised business and community constituencies – be focused and remain committed to achieve common goals.
South Africa, at the end of 2010, was characterised by over 4,2 million persons unemployed. Of the above number, 2,8 million are long-term unemployed. Of the unemployed, the most are young persons within the range of 25 and 34 years of age, with low levels of skill and work experience. These are not just numbers but individual persons whose lives are severely affected by a lack of income, lack of security and a lack of dignity. These are the people who require assistance to find work or to re-enter the labour market. On the one hand, South Africa experienced a significant increase in industrial action through strikes, resulting in a lot of workdays being lost due to industrial action in 74 cases. These industrial actions, which were about improved wages and working conditions, took place when the world was hit by economic meltdown. It would be important to study and derive lessons from these industrial actions with the view to confront and improve on the labour relations systems. It must also be remembered that labour relations, in itself, require ongoing engagement and refinement from time to time. Once an analysis has been conducted, one could hope that 2011 will see much more improved labour relations in the respective workplaces with a focus on bringing about stability and industrial peace.
The South African economy in 2010 began to show signs of recovery from the recession we experienced in year 2009. In the fourth quarter of the same year, we also saw a small gain in employment, with growth projected to be positive during year 2011. As part of our commitment and effort in bringing about a society based on justice and equality for all, the department identified policy gaps in the following pieces of legislation: the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, 2010, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, 2010, the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, 2010, and the new Employment Services Bill, 2010. Further, we are also addressing policy gaps in Sheltered Employment Factories with the specific emphasis on accommodating the needs of people with disabilities and gender equality.
In recent times, labour brokering has attracted a huge policy debate in our country, mainly due to abuses that have commonly been associated with the practice. It is for this reason, ladies and gentlemen, that one of our key aims in amending labour legislation is to address the phenomenon of labour broking and its associated abusive tendencies. We do this well aware that amending this legislation will have important consequences for the operation of the labour market system. The debates on these Bills have attracted a variety of responses, which illustrate clearly the articulation of different interests that could be affected by the proposed amendments.
As government, through the Department of Labour, we will continue to work constructively with our social partners and will further endeavour to find appropriate labour framework that gives sufficient protection to workers that have been rendered vulnerable through certain abuses. We will do so mindful that our policies should not have negative consequences for employment. At the turn of the fourth quarter, our inspectors visited more than 192 000 workplaces across the country. Of the workplaces visited, 77% were found to be compliant with our labour laws. During the year under review, we have continued to conduct blitz inspection programmes, with the view of targeting high risk and problematic sectors. Activities conducted were focused on wholesale and retail, construction, agriculture and forestry, hospitality and, private security sectors and a number of shopping malls.
We are intensifying our efforts on inspection and enforcement as part of our commitment to ensure the creation of decent working conditions for workers, at the same time ensuring a competitive environment under which business can operate. We have begun to focus our energies on the need to ensure that the inspectorate is professional. Creating a professional inspectorate would require us to consider issues of upgrading the level of training of inspectors, and we have already started to engage the service of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, to provide training. The department remains focused in ensuring the highest level of compliance by companies. In this regard, notices have been issued to noncomplying employers, and we have referred 295 cases to the Labour Court and 415 employers to the Magistrate Court. We hope that those who flout the law will be successfully prosecuted.
The previous financial year saw significant changes in the department with the transfer of the skills development functions to the Department of Higher Education and Training. The transfer has been concluded and the department has begun repositioning the public employment services during the year. The new Employment Services Bill sets out the proposed legal framework for the operation of our employment services. This Bill also sets out the role of Productivity SA under the mandate of the department and provides a legal basis for the operation of the Sheltered Employment Factories.
During the 2010-11 financial year, our employment services managed to register 472 179 job seekers. The service managed to link 70% of these registered job seekers to career counselling, skills development interventions, work placement opportunities, as well as Unemployment Insurance Fund ,UIF, and Compensation Fund benefits. Our career guidance services were undertaken by the nursing colleges in Gauteng, saving them up to R21 million in recruitment costs. We will continue to step up our commitment to improve our employment service to contribute to job creation in South Africa.
For the period up to March 2011, the UIF paid benefits to 693 000 beneficiaries with a total value of R5,3 billion, compared to 779 604 beneficiaries with a total value R5,7 billion the previous year. The fund experienced a very slight decrease in unemployment benefit payments compared to the same period in the year 2009-10. The decrease is mainly due to the effects of the recession wearing off. This once again highlights the importance of the UIF as a safety net during times of unemployment and economic crisis. The UIF has invested 68% of its investment portfolio in central government, municipal and parastatal bonds, and money market instruments that support infrastructure projects that will create and sustain jobs. The fund has identified a number of projects in pursuit of the creation of decent work in South Africa. The contribution made by the fund comprises both commercial and social responsible investment. This is an investment of R35 billion of the R52 billion portfolio.
The UIF has also invested in the Industrial Development Corporation, IDC, through the purchase of a R2 billion bond during 2010 with the aim of creating and sustaining jobs. These funds are available initiate businesses, to provide a debt portion of expansionary acquisitions for existing businesses and to facilitate working capital funded expansions. The UIF has also taken further steps by setting aside R1 billion over the 2009-10 to 2013-14 medium-term period for schemes aimed at reintegrating unemployed UIF beneficiaries back into employment. The scheme involves participation by various Sector Education and Training Authorities, Setas, in reskilling the unemployed in critical scarce and soft skills. The fund is also providing assistance to Productivity SA through allocation of funding to the social plan. For the 2010-11 financial year, R48 million has been committed towards the social plan. In the financial year 2011-12, we aim to save 20 000 jobs through the social plan interventions.
The Compensation Fund, which caters for injured on duty processed claims, paid compensation benefits in 2010-11 at an amount of R2,1 billion. In terms of medical claims, the fund paid 186 563 medical accounts in 2010-11 at an amount of R1,9 billion, as compared to 135 829 at R1,5 billion during the same period in
2009-10. Revenue of R4,5 billion was raised in 2010-11. The increased capacity in debt collection yielded positive results as R431 million debt has been recovered. The Compensation Fund's total investments increased by R3,2 billion, from R23,3 billion to R26,5 billion in the year under review. The Compensation Fund is aiming to increase the number of registered employers in the current financial year, in order to improve revenue collection through employer assessments.
To promote return to work develop skills and to improve the functionality of injured and diseased employees, the fund has begun developing an integrated comprehensive policy framework for rehabilitation, reintegration and return to work of its beneficiaries. This will require amendment of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, and the amendments are projected to be promulgated in 2014-15.
The implementation of the Compensation Fund turnaround strategy is at an advanced stage. This is aimed at improving claims' turnaround time and bringing compensation fund services closer to the people through decentralisation and job creation. In September 2010, the department launched the South African Decent Work Country Programme at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac. Through this programme, the ILO will work together with government, organised business, organised labour and the community constituency to give support to initiatives aimed at promoting the decent work agenda.
Speeding up economic growth and transforming the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods is the first priority of government for 2011 and also through to 2014. Decent work will feature strongly in all economic policies during the coming period.
Despite the significant progress in changing our economy to benefit our people, unemployment, poverty and inequality remain serious challenges. Decent work is the foundation of the fight against poverty and inequality, and its promotion should be the cornerstone of all our efforts.
The last ANC national conference held in 2007 resolved that the ANC-led government will make the creation of decent work opportunities and sustained livelihood the primary focus of our economy. Discussion of decent work, in fact, goes back quite a few years in the international community, and it is worth noting that at the 2005 World Summit of the UN General Assembly, heads of state and government of more than 150 countries made a commitment to implement a far-reaching international agenda. They declared that –
... we strongly support fair globalisation and resolve to make the goals of full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people, a central objective of our relevant national and international policies as well as our national development strategies, including poverty reduction strategies, as part of our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
This commitment has led to the whole UN system recognising the Decent Work Agenda and to placing it at the centre of the relevant national and international policies and development strategies. So, the direction that we are now taking in South Africa is not new; in fact, it is overdue.
Decent work has been defined by the ILO as being productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equality, security and human dignity. Decent work involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families, offers better chances for personal and skills development, gives people freedom to express their concerns, to organise and to participate in decisions that affect their lives, and guarantees equal opportunities and equal treatment for all.
The decent work agenda of the ILO is made up of four pillars. These are employment creation and enterprise development, social protection, standards and rights at work, and governance and social dialogue. These four pillars are intended to work together in an integrated manner and to apply to different areas of policy, to policies directed at the workplace and the way in which people carry out their livelihoods. What is important to realise about decent work is that it does not prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach. Decent work for Italy and Ethiopia may look very different to that for South Africa. Our employment creation strategies must speak to the realities of the South African economy and labour market. Our priorities in the areas of social protection must address the gaps that we find here. The South African Constitution, the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act provide a strong floor of rights and standards.
Equally, we have a very good framework in our legislation for governance and social dialogue, although we may need to find ways of strengthening our practise of social dialogue. In pursuing decent work in our context, it is our national priorities that must shape our response going forward. The framework agreement between the social partners on how to respond to the international economic crisis simply says, "By decent work we mean the need to increase the level of employment as well as improve the quality of jobs." Decent work is, therefore, a package deal, an integrated way of looking at work in our society in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. We already have some targets, the most important of which is the target of halving unemployment by 2014.
Let me now turn to the priorities of the Department of Labour over the next year. The department will in the 2011-12 financial year focus on the following strategic areas: Reviewing and submitting to Parliament amendments to labour legislation, which includes the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Employment Equity Act, Labour Relations Act and a new Employment Services Bill. Our aim is to create a policy framework to promote decent work and a policy framework for the provision of public employment services which will enable government to maintain a database of job seekers and job opportunities, as well as matching and placement of job seekers. The department will during the 2011-12 financial year also consult with stakeholders and, on conclusion, present the Bills to Parliament, the proposed amendments of which are before our social partners as we speak.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993 predates the Constitution of the Republic and requires updating in certain areas. The department intends to repeal this legislation and replace it with new occupational health and safety legislation to ensure a safe and healthy working environment and to protect workers against hazards associated with their work or use of machinery. The Labour inspectorate will be strengthened to monitor and enforce compliance with legislation to ensure that decent work principles are adhered to and address vulnerability in the labour market. The department was allocated R60 million in the two outer years of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework by National Treasury for the creation of additional inspector posts at specialist levels. The department also aims to reduce inequality and discrimination in the labour market through effective compliance monitoring and enforcement of the Employment Equity Act, which is currently under review, improve access to social security services provided in terms of the Compensation Fund and Unemployment Insurance Fund, including reintegration of workers into the labour market.
These areas of activity will be our priority. On the one hand, they link directly to improving the policy framework that governs and regulates the labour market. Improving the regulatory framework is a key to laying the basis for greater equity and for reducing inequalities. On the other hand, the department's focus areas for 2011-12 will aim to reduce the decent work deficit through improved enforcement and efforts to ensure compliance with our labour laws.
Various branches and public entities within the department have outlined plans to contribute to creating jobs, saving jobs in identified distressed companies and sectors, and placing in excess of 2 million work seekers in jobs over the period 2011-12 through to 2013-14.
Interventions planned by the department involve training and reskilling of workers in order to give them capacity to compete in the open economy. Funding to be provided through the Compensation Fund and Unemployment Insurance Fund will include a continued investment of R9 billion of the R26 billion portfolio in commercial and socially responsible investments by the Compensation Fund, and continued investment of R44 billion of the R52 billion portfolio in commercial and social responsible investment by the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The Unemployment Insurance Fund has set aside R1 billion over the 2009-10 to 2013-14 medium-term period for the schemes that are aimed at reintegrating unemployed UIF beneficiaries back into employment. The scheme is funded by the fund and involves participation by various Setas in reskilling the unemployed in critical scarce and soft skills.
In order to further assist in preventing retrenchments, the UIF has committed R1,2 billion towards the Training Layoff Scheme. This scheme is designed to provide support to companies in distress that intend to retrench employees. Productivity SA's social plan will be given R290 million in funding over the period 2011-12 to 2015-16. This is funding that will go towards providing assistance to companies in distress.
The public employment service branch of the department has identified a number of interventions aimed at creating and sustaining jobs. The highlights are as follows: The department aims to refer 450 000 work seekers for placement in jobs and other opportunities in 2011-2012, and in excess of 2 million work seekers will be referred for placement in opportunities over the period 2011-12 to 2015-16. This will be accomplished through the job matching exercise in the Employment Services System of South Africa known as Essa. Through the employer services functions, the department aims to provide assistance to 51 500 workers in distressed sectors over the period 2011-12 to 2015-16. There are 151 000 people from designated groups who will be placed in training and income-generating opportunities over the period 2011-12 to 2015-16. The total targeted group comprises of 10 000 youth, 15 000 women and 4 000 persons with disabilities.
The Sheltered Employment Factories, which fall under the public employment services branch, aim to increase orders for goods leading to the creation of jobs for 3 500 people with disabilities over the period 2011-12 to 2015-16. In addition, the Sheltered Employment Factories aim to accommodate more people with disabilities from disadvantaged communities, as it previously accommodated only a certain category of ex-combatants. About 3 200 learners will be recruited over the period 2011-12 to 2015-16 to participate in the Sheltered Employment Factories' centre of excellence with the view of training them as mentors and placed in both the Sheltered Employment Factories and in the open economy.
In addition to contributing to job creation during 2011-12, the strategic plan of the department outlines a number of ways in which the department intends improving its efficiency and service delivery. I will not list all of these, but examples include
improvements in the time taken to finalise compensation claims, improvements in the processing of claims for unemployment insurance benefits, increased sale of products from the Sheltered Employment Factories, a campaign aimed at reducing exposure of workers to silica dust, and eliminating the department's vacancy rate. The department has employed a new director-general, whom I formally want to introduce, Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko, who has undertaken to eliminate the vacancy rate within this financial year.
We are also looking forward to hosting the 12th African regional meeting of the ILO during October 2011. This meeting will be attended by a number of heads of state of African countries, as well as the director-general of the ILO. Chairperson, the department has been allocated R1,98 billion for the 2011-12 financial year. This represents an 11% increase to the 2010 baseline. The bulk of the increase goes to the conditions of service improvements and to the budget of the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration, CCMA
In closing, let us recall the words of former President Nelson Mandela who called on all of us, in his first state of the nation address as President of South Africa "to regard labour as a resource and not a cost". As the economy begins to recover, and as we strive to make 2011 the year of job creation, we would be well advised to bear this in mind that, in creating the many new jobs that government is committed to, we cannot treat labour only as a cost factor. We need always remember that labour is a very special commodity. Workers, like all of us, are entitled to rights, to dignity in the workplace and to conditions of decent work.
Chairperson, allow me to congratulate all political parties and their supporters that participated in the recent local government elections for the wonderful manner in which they conducted themselves during the election campaign period and on the election day. I believe that since it is now after the election, it is not going to be a campaign platform when you are debating this important Budget. I also want to thank the department officials for the support that they have given me, as well as the portfolio committee, under the leadership of Mr Nchabeleng, for support us as the department. Hon members of this House, I hereby put forward to you the Budget of the Department of Labour, which I highly commend. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M E NCHABELENG /Mia / END OF TAKE
The MINISTER OF LABOUR
Mr M E NCHABELENG: Hon House Chair, hon Minister, ladies and gentlemen and all comrades. Let me start by congratulating the people's movement, which is the ANC, on their victory of the local government elections. [Applause.]
During our hectic and frenetic campaigning, I met with a large group of mine and metal workers of Sekhukhuneland wearing bright red t-shirts with the slogan, "united we bargain, divided we beg". This was an inspiration and it brought back memories of the bitter liberation struggle of the oppressed people of our country.
We assure workers that they have the right to strike and petition, the right to belong to the unions of their choices – this is strongly entrenched in our Constitution and these are rights which we fought for, side by side with the workers, sparing neither strength nor courage until fascism was finally defeated.
However, House Chair, the cold dead hand of apartheid is still throttling our people in some pockets of the country.
The central task of the ANC is to build a developmental state with the strategic, political, economic, administrative and technical capacity in pursuit of the objectives of the national democratic revolution. It is this task that the ANC must assess as we propose recommendations that will qualitatively improve the functioning of governance during this Budget Vote debates.
The critical functions that arise from this task derive from the national democratic revolution and its impact upon the transformation of the state and governance, and in particular the ongoing reorganisation of the powers and functions of the state. For this to be successfully achieved a thorough ongoing assessment and evaluation of progress, clear responses aimed at strengthening all spheres of government and mass popular participation in the programmes of government is essential.
Like most countries, South Africa is signatory to the International Labour Organisation, ILO, and as a result, has ratified key conventions of the body. By virtue of being a member state, we have an obligation to respect, to promote and realize, in good faith and in accordance with the ILO constitution, the fundamental rights contained in the eighth core ILO conventions. These include conventions 87 and 98, which protect freedom of association and protection of the right to organise and collective bargaining.
It follows that South Africa, being a member state, should respect, promote and realize these rights through domestic legislation. As such, it is invidious to measure such compliance with those obligations negatively. In order to translate these international values, Chapter 2 of the South African Constitution, the Bill of Rights, affirms protection of the freedom of association and labour relations, key being the right to fair labour practices.
Based on the South African Constitution and related policies and prescripts, and learning from the various ILO conventions and International Labour Standards, the Department of Labour administers the following legislations: Firstly, the Labour Relations Act, Act 66 of 1995' secondly, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Act 75 of 1997; thirdly, Employment Equity Act, Act 55 of 1998; fourthly, Unemployment Insurance Act, Act 30 of 1996; fifthly, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act of 1993; and, lastly, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act, Act 130 of 1993, Coida.
We are aware that the Department of Labour has developed a code of conduct which will underpin the professionalization of the work of the inspectorate in support of ruling out any alleged malpractices amongst inspectors. Hon Minister of Labour Comrade Nelisiwe Olifant said:
The commitment to the values in the code will ensure that Labour Inspectorate operates in a transparent and accountable manner. Implementation of the code will also provide protection for all employees of the Labour Inspectorate in the proper exercise of the role.
She further affirmed that honesty, justice and courtesy form the moral basis which constitutes the foundation for ethics within the profession. Essentially, this would ensure the additional role of inspectors, being that of ensuring labour laws are given practical effect and becoming actual standards for work.
During the 2011-12 financial year, the Inspection and Enforcement Services Programme received a budget allocation of R386,7 million. The total budget allocation for this programme, which is R386,7 million, is allocated to the current payments, with a total of R311,1 million allocated to compensation of employees and R75,6 million to goods and services. The Inspection and Enforcement Services Programme's budget increased by 5,5% in nominal terms. From R366,6 million in 2010-11 to R386,7 million in 2011-12, whereas, in real terms, it increased by 0,65%. The Registration Inspection and Enforcement Services Sub-programme, reflects a nominal rand increase of R17,6 million, which is a nominal increase of 25,0% and a real increase of 19,27%. We welcome this.
The other sub-programmes such as the compliance, monitoring and enforcement's budget increased by R5,4 million from R261,9 in 2010-11 to R267,3 million in 2011-12. This represents an increase of 2,1% in nominal terms, but also a decrease of 2,61% in real terms. The training of staff sub-programme received a budget increase of R0,7 million, which represents a percentage increase of 18,42% in nominal terms. There are currently 1 095 labour inspectors around the country who will inspect 10 000 workplaces during the 2011-12 financial year.
In addition, the department is targeting a total of 130 000 inspections from which 200 will be conducted on silica dust.
Before I conclude, Chairperson, I wish to raise a serious issue which is of great concern to me and the committee and all the people of South Africa. Seventeen years into democracy, we are still faced with occurrences of extreme racism and oppression within our Sheltered Employment Factories, SEF, in the Western Cape and some parts of the country. Whilst conducting oversight at these factories, a black employee indicated to the committee that he is still referred to as kaffir and was told to use a different toilet because he is black. This is a glaring example of pockets of racism as earlier referred to. Sheltered Employment Factories were created in 1943 by the apartheid government to rehabilitate war veterans from the Second World War based on a social welfare model under the auspices of the social welfare and the Department of Labour. Due to the termination of preferential procurement policy, the Sheltered Employment Factories have lost sizeable income over the years and severely crippling the disabled people's capacity . . .[Time expired.] In conclusion, the Committee on Labour supports the budget. I thank you. [Applause.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Hon G BORMAN): Hon members, can I be given a chance to preside over the debate. I am guided by my watch here. Thank you very much. Can I be allowed to Chair the debate peacefully?
Mr I M OLLIS / AZM MNGUNI/VM / END OF TAKE
Mr M E NCHABELENG
Mr I M OLLIS: Chairperson, Madam Minister, Aha! The grand toilet war of election 2011 has finally come and gone, and here we are considering government service delivery again with the 2011 Labour Budget Vote and business plan.
Treasury and Cabinet have approved a larger budget for the Department of Labour, this year, together with several virements in the last financial year, the department and its entities are receiving a slightly bigger slice of the pie than we had previously received. As we approached the new financial year, the department has seen an unprecedented amount of change that has left its staff and entities reeling. We had the Director-General, DG, of Labour suspended and sacked; we had the longstanding Minister of Labour sacked; and the Chairperson of the Labour Committee was also replaced.
We welcome our new Minister, as I've done before in Parliament, and I believe we have a new DG that is to be welcomed in the person of Mr Nhleko. But we must assess whether this department is running at full steam and whether it is delivering on its mandate for all South Africans. With one in every four South Africans now voting for the Democratic Alliance, we have a vested interest in seeing that it does run smoothly. One in four South Africans would expect us to look after their interests and we shall do so. Incidentally, looking at the election results, just briefly, if you look the total votes cast in the City of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane, Pretoria, the ANC received 911 006 votes, whilst the DA received 1053 267 votes. So, if the former Director-General of Labour, Mr Jimmy Manyi, had succeeded in moving certain people out of the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, he would have handed us another two metros; thank you very much.
So let's look at some of the Department of Labour's detail; the Shelter Employment Factories, Minister as you have pointed out, are in a terrible state. Their subsidies have been reduced and government departments have no longer to purchase from these factories. Without new markets for their products, they are slowly going down the financial drain and instead of providing more opportunities for the disable citizens, a few thousands less people now work for the Sheltered Employment Factories than in 1994.
However, there are plenty of ways for disabled workers to be sought: The Compensation Fund deals everyday with South Africans who become permanently disabled and now cannot work. Why does the Department of Labour, DOL, hand their names over to the Sheltered Employment Factories so that they can find work again? What about the military veterans from various liberation movements who also sit without work and some are disabled? There is silo thinking. Our one in four South African that support us would expect us to demand better co-operation from government departments. Our people deserve better!
Moving the skills development from the Department of Labour to the Department of Higher Education has been extremely messy and badly managed to the extent that the Auditor-General – I believe - cannot comment on the financials of Skills Fund. The Department of Higher Education, DHE, is – I'm told – going to get a disclaimer as result of the botched handover process. Proper governance or accounting procedures were never adopted in the department of origin, that is, the Department of Labour, and have similarly not been set up in the Department of Higher Education. What a mess! There are question marks over where the money went during the handover period. One version of the story circulating among the staff – some of whom are here, today - is that the money is being run through the banking accounts of Minister Nzimande because too few bank accounts were opened timeously for the transfer. I hope that post-audit, these irregularities will be sorted out in the Department of Labour's hand in this mess will be clarified. Where is Mr Manyi when we want to ask these questions?
But there's more; I personally conducted visits to the offices of the Department of Labour in Tshwane, Johannesburg and elsewhere and discovered that on one floor there is a whole range of training staff sitting idle in government buildings. Now, before you laugh, let me explain; they seem what development staff of the old Department of Labour remains of the skills. It seems that when the former Minister Mdladlana transferred the budgets for the skills development to higher education as requested, without telling anyone he just kept the staff in the Department of Labour so that it no longer has a budget to enable them to pay for the training courses that they have been offering. So, they sit side by side watching soccer, or finding stapling to do. Oops!
I now believe that Mr Moratoba will be moving this staff into a new government employment agency. Except that we are still arguing in National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, of the content over enabling legislation, because it's not yet approved - I suppose the staff will have to continue watching soccer, maybe the Minister needs some more stapling to do. Unfortunately, Minister one in four South Africans that we represent want us to do better. Some of their tax money is being used after all!
The Training Lay-off Programme has been an equal disaster. Under this programme, it will take about 75 500 workers have been retrained; that's great! However, almost R3 billion was pumped into that programme. So, this huge fund is still sitting there while people in South Africa have no jobs, the money is in the bank account. What a disaster! Let's be honest, it was a great idea in theory but there wasn't the execution to follow through. None of the Skills Education Training Authorities in South Africa, Seta, have yet been able to account for how much money they spent on the Training Lay-off Programme. How much do they use? No one knows! How much per person did it cost to train those people? Nobody knows that either. I only hope that the Auditor-General is taking note of that problem. The DA's one in four voters are certainly taking note.
The Essential Services Committee also needs an urgent intervention. It is essentially dysfunctional at present and has no real budget to run its operations. It's got a Minimum Services Agreement but this does not address the real concerns because it is too generic. It does not clarify who may and may not go on strike and therefore, it is largely ignored by unions and employers. One in four of those South Africans now voting for the DA are affected by this chaos and they want some action.
My colleague will be talking about the Compensation Fund and Unemployment Insurance Fund, UIF, and yes, I won't step on his toes, but I just want to give you one illustration of a man that contacted me about his workplace injury. He applied for compensation from all places, the Compensation Fund. Months went by without a response. He lost his house; he lost his car; and he moved into somebody's garage for which he was paying a small rental. He had an eye injury that needed an urgent medical attention which he did not received, because it was not approved despite completing forms and handing in medical reports and going medical examiners. I escalated his claim; I escalated his appeal; and I emailed the relevant officials. He was then thrown out of the garage that he was living in because he couldn't pay that small rental. I finally received a call from the mother of his children telling me, this past Christmas, that he has committed suicide. She wanted to know if there was any money coming for the children. It still haunts me. Many people in South Africa are very very poor and when they get injured at work or can no longer work we should be able to respond to their needs speedily. The current state of affairs is just not good enough. We still shuffling 20 pieces of paper for every application that comes in. It should be computerised; it should be electronic. Mr Manyi, when he was a DG should have been fixing the computer system and streamlining the funds instead of playing with racial quotas.
I want to close by examining the textile industry. Government has contributed to the ruin of this industry. In Newcastle, we have several factories making textiles and paying workers below the minimum wage. The Department of Labour applied the legislation, shut them down, and 15 000 employees lost their jobs. Some of those companies relocated to Swaziland and Lesotho; and the remainder of those unemployed workers turned on the unions and Bargaining Council and asked for the companies to be reopened. Some were reopened and nothing has been achieved in this process except the loss of jobs.
The DA calls on the Minister to implement a Cadet Internship Programme for the textile industry which takes on apprentices that are lower wage while they are being trained. We also call on the Minister to apply an exemption for the Bargaining Agreement for the Commission Embroidery Industry which has been wiped out because each business is too small to comply with the various agreements of the Bargaining Council and the margins are too low.
I do not understand the rational for small companies whose staff are not unionised being forced to pay over levies to the Bargaining Council in lieu of union fees; for what? That's yet another tax with no purpose. It's like a punishment for no services rendered. I too call for the Minister to conduct joint operations with customs and excise as the DA is aware that customs officials find it difficult to distinguish, at the port in Durban, between cotton, wool, silk, and polyester. When they land in port they allow the goods through with the wrong valuation and, therefore, the incorrect import duties and levies being applied.
There is also a problem with new goods being brought in second hand and officials are not averse to rearranging the invoicing to suit for the small fee. Bribes kill jobs! The reason that this is the labour issue is that for each shipment that comes in without paying appropriate duties, jobs are lost and the margins in Newcastle in our factories get smaller and smaller. If we want decent work that we have been talking about through the Hilo for textile workers, we have to stop the cheating at the harbours and the ports of entry. A cluster of measures like this will improve the financial position of our textile industry and push wages to an acceptable level.
I have, in a previous speech welcomed the Minister to her department. However, I call on her now to urgently intervene in these cases, people are suffering; industries are suffering; and many agreements are out of date. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE / MS / END OF TAKE
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, Mr V B Ndlovu is a member of this committee. He is not here today and has asked me to represent him. He is busy with many thousands of enthusiastic and loyal IFP supporters organising for the next elections. [Laughter.] I have been informed that the results that they got proved beyond reasonable doubt that the IFP will be the next government of South Africa in three years time. [Laughter.] Minister, the good news is that when we are in government, in 2014, we will keep you as the Minister of Labour.
I wish to congratulate the Minister and tell her that in respect of her maiden speech we had a discussion to give you marks. We have given you 10 out of 10.
I want to start by asking: Are our trade unions doing what is in the best interest of the economy of our land or not? Is it desirable that a gun be held to industry's head every single year for above inflation wage deals so much so that South Africa is now renowned as a strike season?
Unions seeking up to 20% wage increases when there is approximately a 4% inflation rate are opportunistic and it is unsustainable. It will only serve to deter investment in our country from abroad and it will ultimately result in fewer jobs for our people in South Africa.
Regarding National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, the IFP proposes that the minimum threshold margins for trade unions in Nedlac be revisited. This will allow the entry of smaller unions to replace the current monopoly of only three large unions.
Regarding the proposed manipulation of demographics by certain political parties in order to create certain political territorial advantages, it is shallow and the people who propose such practices have no place in labour.
Job creation for our youth is obviously critical. Idle hands are the devil's playground. We have a responsibility to ensure that we provide the youth with ample opportunities for entry into the work place. Our trade unions through their actions do not realise that they are stifling the creation of jobs by deterring foreign investment and thus hindering and not helping the process.
Regarding labour brokers the IFP recognises the efforts of professional labour brokers and the services they provide to the employment field. They are necessary and must be clearly differentiated from what is called the smash and grab labour broker operators whose operations should be stopped.
The inflow of foreign labour is also political particularly the concern with the recent unrest at Medupi Power Station a case in point. We should see a government that puts South African workers first. We should not import labour for positions in which we have a local force available.
The culture of entrepreneurship must be further strengthened and developed particularly amongst our youth adults and new entrants to the jobs market. Existing entrepreneurship should be supported when diversifying into different economic sectors. Government support of entrepreneurship is vital to our economic recovery as well as to sustainable economic growth. The IFP urges this department to use every available resource to promote its growth.
We wish the hon Minister and her department the best of luck for the new year. We thank her and the department for what they have done in the past. I end by saying we support the Budget Vote only because is you.
Mrs L S MAKHUBELA-MASHELE /NN / GC / END OF TAKE
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE
Mrs L S MAKHUBELA-MASHELE: Hon Chair, Minister, hon members, members of the department, I greet you all.
The Constitution of the Republic sums up the type of society that we ought to build. Our struggle is about constructing a humane, caring, open, democratic, nonracial and nonsexist society. These are the norms and values many have shed their blood for.
Experience over the last 17 years since the dawn of our democracy has taught us that it is one thing to proclaim an ideal, and quite another to achieve it. We have striven in the past 17 years to fulfil the aspirations of our struggle for human dignity, freedom and equality. As a nation, we can be proud of our accomplishments in such a fairly short space of time in the history of the new nation. We also agree that we are far from reaching the vision enshrined in our Constitution.
Many of our people are still trapped in poverty, unemployment and destitution. Levels of inequality, especially income inequality, have actually worsened since 1994. We are a nation with one of the worst differentials in terms of inequality. The legacy of dualistic development remains stubbornly entrenched. For as long as we have this situation, we are far from achieving the promises of the Constitution for a more equal society. It is not workers who undermine this vision, but those in power and those with power.
This widening inequality that has come to characterise South African society threatens all our hard fought-for democratic gains. In 2005-06, the average income from work in the richest 10% of households was 32 times more than the average income of the poorest 60%. Relative deprivation is at the core of the so-called service delivery protests.
During the decades of struggle, it was understood that apartheid would not be allowed to continue in a normal society. Yet, that abnormal society is continuing at an economic level. The tragedy is that we are accepting as a norm that a minority will have first-world infrastructure while the majority are trapped in humiliating and degrading squalor. [Interjections.]
Decent work is one of the foundations of human rights. The fight against poverty and inequality, and its promotion, is the cornerstone of all our efforts. Decent work embraces both the need for more jobs and for better quality jobs. The creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods is central to the ANC government's agenda and the primary focus of all our economic policies.
The labour legislation that we have fought for and that regulates the labour market needs to be defended. It protects the rights of workers who produce the wealth of the country. The adoption of the democratic Constitution, Act 108 of 1996, and specifically Chapter 2, sought to guarantee the rights of all citizens, including workers. It accorded a set of rights which cannot be tampered with albeit through a set of constitutional amendments. Constitutionally, general rights afforded to citizens apply equally to workers.
Decent work is critical for all employees, and more importantly, for those who are vulnerable. Decent work is the cornerstone of human rights. Human rights are both the means and the end to achieve better work with a human face, which is preferable to thinking of workers as just a mere commodity. The Decent Work Agenda for all workers and their protection is realised through the introduction and enforcement of our progressive labour laws in the country.
Decent work is broadly defined by the International Labour Organisation, ILO, as work that provides for workers' rights, adequate protection by legislation, and access to social security and social dialogue.
I conclude by saying that there is absolutely no dignity for workers without decent work. I repeat – there is absolutely no dignity for workers without decent work. Decent work is the foundation of the fight against poverty and inequality, and its promotion should be the cornerstone of all our efforts.
The ANC supports Budget Vote 18. [Applause.]
Adv A D ALBERTS
Mrs L S MAKHUBELA-MASHELE
Adv A D ALBERTS: Mev die Adjunkspeaker, die ANC staan nou al vir meer as 15 jaar aan die stuur van 'n ekonomie wat nie genoeg werk skep vir die behoeftes van Suid-Afrikaners nie. Daar sal dus gekyk moet word na waar die foutlyne lê en dit moet reggestel word vir die uitwissing van armoede op 'n volhoubare grondslag.
The labour regime is one of the factors that contribute to the gravity of the fault line that plagues the fight against poverty in South Africa. In this regard, the ANC has a lot of explaining to do.
The labour regime was ostensibly designed to provide for the incompatible corrective measures of inclusive economic growth and employment on the one hand and the systemic discrimination against whites on the other. However, it has now endeavoured to extend its insidious set of discrimination to those who are not quite black enough, namely the coloured and Indian communities. If we look at the election results, this set of social engineering devised by the racial engineer, Jimmy Manyi, has proven to be fatal for the ANC.
Die feit is egter dat die ANC, in sy wysheid om diskriminerende beleid op minderhede af te dwing, poog om so effektief soos Duitsers in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog te werk te gaan deur die verdere befondsing van die inspeksie- en wetstoepassingsdienste - dit terwyl die ANC nalaat om by sy eie voordeur te vee.
Let me explain. In a parliamentary question to the Minister regarding the racial profile of the Public Service on all levels of employment, it was established that minorities are underrepresented in government, as follows: at top management level, white and coloured women are underrepresented. At senior management level, coloured people are underrepresented. At the semi-skilled level, whites and Indians are underrepresented; and at the unskilled level, again, whites and Indians are underrepresented.
This begs the question: When will government fix their own system? It smacks of double standards to impose laws on the private sector and individuals when government cannot even comply with its own rules. I trust that the Minister will give us an answer as to how she intends dealing with this situation.
Om aan te hou met die toepassing van diskriminerende wette wat veronderstel is om gelykheid te verseker, sonder om vir die doelwit van die uitfasering daarvan te beplan, is 'n aanduiding dat hierdie wette eintlik bedoel is om permanent te bly - volgens Jimmy Manyi se bisarre logika, vir 350 jaar!
I therefore wish to present a warning to the ANC. If it is the ANC's implied wish never to phase out affirmative action, then you can view the future in alternative ways, all of which will come to pass at different times.
Nicolas Taleb, author of the now famous book, The Black Swan, uses the metaphor of a person playing Russian roulette. Each click of an empty chamber represents one history where nothing significant happens. Yet, if the person were to continue clicking through the empty chambers, the bad history will at some point catch up with him.
Many in the ANC, who will at that point experience the revolt by minorities against this discrimination, are likely to see it as a visitation of the black swan, Taleb's metaphor for an unforeseen event with a disproportional effect. In reality, however, it will actually be a grey swan, as you have been warned about this event today. The question is: Will you listen?
Net die tyd sal leer.
Thank you, Madam.
Mr A J WILLIAMS /Robyn/ END OF TAKE
A D ALBERTS
Mr A J WILLIAMS: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, guests and friends, last week I, again, had the privilege of casting my democratic vote on who should govern. This has not always been the case in South Africa. Just 18 years ago, the majority of South Africans couldn't do that. But, regardless of the outcomes, victory always always goes to this democracy that was created by the ANC. We should all celebrate this democracy because working together we really can do more.
It is only through democratic consensus that progress can take place. The massive job loss that this country has experienced over the last two years has led to untold suffering of those families that now have none or very little income. This government has put in place some very comprehensive measures to try and alleviate this problem.
One of these initiatives is Productivity South Africa. This institution strives to make businesses more productive and, as such, stay in business. Countless jobs have been saved by the interventions of this important entity. It is vital that countless more jobs are saved, and this can be achieved by the allocation of more funds to Productivity South Africa.
I feel honoured to be giving this speech during workers' month. In his welcoming address to the 25th anniversary of Cosatu celebrations on 4 December 2010, the general secretary of Cosatu said:
We are workers of South Africa, united under the banner of Cosatu. We are the creators of the wealth that is enjoyed by a small minority, which has hijacked the wealth we create for their private use.
This statement is true. How many of you South Africans think that gold and platinum just pop out of the ground in shiny blocks, packaged, weighed and stamped? Who do you thing builds your fixed assets, generates your products. Who do you think ploughs the fields, sows the seeds and harvests the food? Men of South Africa, when you get home in the evening, who do you think cleaned the house and fed the kids? Workers are the creators. Workers do the work.
In South Africa there is no black or white, there are just haves and have nots, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Everything that was and that will be manufactured, cleaned and produced, has been and will be manufactured, cleaned and produced by workers. Workers do the work.
An informed working class will never democratically choose a system that doesn't protect workers' rights. That is why, with foresight and vision, the ANC-led, Nelson Mandela government, created the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac. The Nedlac founding declaration states:
The National Economic Development and Labour Council is the vehicle by which government, labour, business and community organisations will seek to co-operate, through problem-solving and negotiation, on economic, labour and development issues, and related challenges facing the country. Nedlac will conduct its work in four broad areas, covering public finance and monetary policy, labour market policy, trade and industrial policy, and development policy.
These four broad areas exist in Nedlac as the public finance and monetary chamber, the labour market chamber, the trade and industrial chamber, and the development chamber. It is in these chambers that decision-makers from business, labour and government need to congregate, engage and debate until consensus is reached. We cannot afford to have junior officials representing business, government and labour in Nedlac. This Parliament expects decision-makers with ranks not less than deputy director-generals to attend chamber meetings.
These deputy director-generals representing various government departments and their peers within business and labour must work tirelessly to reach consensus on issues raised in Nedlac. South Africa, it is your collective ability to reach consensus that gives us as South Africans a moral authority greater than anywhere else in the world.
Nedlac was established on Saturday, 18 February 1995 in Midrand, Gauteng by the then Mandela administration in order to unite South Africans in dialogue and help create a nonracist, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
It is vital that this institution gets more resources, including the recognition of its strategic importance to further the aims of the national democratic revolution. These resources include the ability to attract and employed skilled professionals and retain them. More financial resources must be given to Nedlac so that the institution can keep up with the demands placed upon it and effectively render the mandated obligations.
The total budget for Nedlac for the financial year 2011-12 is R24,8 million. This is clearly not enough money for an organisation that is expected to facilitate consensus between organised labour, organised business, government and community organisations around public finance and monetary policy, labour market policy, trade and industrial policy, and development policy. More money needs to be allocated to this vital institution as soon as possible.
The ANC's position as stated on the occasion of the 82nd anniversary of the ANC on 8 January 1994, by the then president Nelson Mandela states:
It is critically important that the trade union movement should continue to make its contribution to the development of a national consensus with regard to the objective of building a prosperous economy which would end unemployment, provide a living wage for all, raise levels of productivity and international competitiveness and ensure proper participation by workers in decision-making in their places of work.
Nedlac is vital because debate is the only way to reach consensus. In general, organised labour engages the employer through a middle structure - the bargaining council. When it comes to peaceful engagement in South Africa between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, Nedlac is the point of the sword.
Business, labour and government need to make Nedlac a major priority. A broad spectrum of consensus needs to be met in order to help achieve our developmental state. Working together we can do more. South Africa, if Nedlac fails, we all fail. Working together we can do more is not just words. The ANC government has established this institution for exactly that purpose - working together for the betterment of all South Africans and the creation of a nonracist, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa, prosperous for everyone.
The DA's: "Half a loaf is better than none" position, sounds very similar to that infamous quote just before the French Revolution: "Let them eat cake". This of course is coming from an organisation that doesn't have a labour policy in their so-called open or what we have now come to call opportunistic society plan. We all know what happened shortly after "Let them eat cake" was repeated over and over again to the poorest of the poor.
It is only through consensus between decision-makers representing the constituencies of government, labour and business that we can genuinely transform our society from haves and have nots into a nonracist, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. It is only through consensus that we can create a better life for all because working together we can do more. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr E NYEKEMBA / Mpho/ UNH (Checked) / END OF TAKE
Mr A J WILLIAMS
Mr E NYEKEMBA: Chairperson, Minister of Labour and your department, hon members, fellow South Africans, I would like to start off by asking a question: Would it matter if worker's rights were human rights? The answer is an undoubtedly a big yes.
In recognition of workers rights as human rights, the Bill of Rights protects the fundamental worker's rights, such as labour relations, which is found in section 23 of the Constitution, freedom of association, found in section 18 of the Constitution, and the protection against slavery, servitude or forced labour which is also found in section 13 of the same Constitution.
Chairperson, the ANC has asked me to speak on three public entities; namely, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Compensation Fund, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The ANC regards these three public entities as critical institutions to deepen workers rights. The ANC calls on the Department of Labour to move with speed in improving services that are provided by the above three public entities.
The ANC has always appreciated the efforts and measures employed by the Unemployment Insurance Fund entity in order to improve revenue collection and general administration efficiency. However, the ANC has consistently stated that the fund focus should not exclusively be to increase reserves, without workers benefiting in it. Hence we will continue to support initiatives aiming at training, developing and placing unemployment first.
We further support a decision by the UIF to extend beneficiary coverage to include civil servants. This is another way of making sure that this service is delivered to all workers and their dependants.
In addition, the UIF has informed the committee that it is in the process of considering extension of UIF benefits to learnerships, which are estimated to be approximately 94 000 per annum. This inclusion will reasonably contribute towards the fight against the youth unemployment.
Furthermore, the ANC supports the fund in considering the inclusion of approximately 80 000 migrant workers into beneficiary and contribution population. These efforts are just a few examples of how government will rally the country behind meaningful economic transformation and job creation; but within the confinement of the new growth fund.
When the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration was established, it was expected to resolve disputes much more effectively and that the national settlement rate would increase, therefore reduce strikes and lockouts. By providing training it was expected that employers and workers would learn about the correct procedure and code of conduct which would ultimately result in a lower caseload for the CCMA.
We have witnessed relatively high national settlement of disputes since CCMA took over. This institution still needs to improve the dispute resolution rate, which was below by 11% of its target of 70% in the 2009-10 financial year. We appreciate the reduction of reviews of arbitration awards. This has mainly been attributed to quality training that the institution had introduced for its commissioners. Since 2008, CCMA has managed to conduct much conciliation within the statutory time frame of 30 days and has significantly reduced the number of late awards by 73%.
However, there has been an increase in noncompliance with arbitration awards, especially within the small and medium sized employers who are further contributing to poor workers being denied justice.
For the first time, hon Minister, the DA had talked sense in saying that whilst workers who benefit out of the compensation fund – once they become disabled they need to be linked to the Sheltered Employment Factories. I think, since I became an MP – and I asked myself if I was actually hearing a member of the DA saying that. [Applause.]
This public entity has been faced with complex challenges that range from corrupt officials to intricate administrative challenges, such as huge backlogs and poor IT performance.
We acknowledge that the Compensation Fund is working hard in addressing its challenges. We call on the Minister and the department to provide resources required overcoming administration challenges that are faced by the Compensation Fund.
The ANC calls upon employers and their associations to prioritise occupational health and safety in workplaces, to avoid occupational injuries and diseases. Our call is informed by one of our historical documents, as the ANC called "ready to govern". This refers to rights of the youth - the youth has a right to a stable family life and care, free of occupational injuries and diseases. Youth also have a right to work within a safe and healthy environment.
Hence we call on employers to make it a point that the health and safety Act that exist need to be looked at in order to avoid the compensation fund to continue paying people who are injured and who suffer diseases as a result of ignorance of the employers.
There are approximately 1,2 million domestic workers in the country, who also have dependents, meaning that when a domestic worker gets injured at work that whole family would have lost its income because domestic employers are not covered by Compensation Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.
Therefore, the department in assisting those vulnerable workers must find a way of incorporating the domestic employers in order for them to contribute towards the Compensation fund. The only recourse is for domestic worker to sue their employers, but that is unlikely given the financial implications of such action.
During our deliberations with the department on its strategic plan, we raised concerns around this issue and we hope our concerns will be attended to in order to assist these vulnerable workers.
Before I sit down, Chairperson, let me just speak on two points ... [Time expired.]
The ANC supports the Budget Vote. [Applause.]
Mr G G BOINAMO END OF TAKE
Mr E NYEKEMBA
Mr G G BOINAMO: Hon Chair, hon Minister, hon Chair of the Labour Committee and fellow South Africans I thank you all. Let me take this opportunity to caution my friend, hon Nchabeleng that apartheid died and got buried in 1994 [Interjections.] and let us not relieve the past lest we will never be able to make any contribution that would put this country forward. Apartheid is gone and forgotten.
Let me also in the same breath say that the demands of communism in this world should have signalled ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (M): Order! Please. Give the speaker a chance. Hang on, hang on...
Mr G G BOINAMO: Let me also in the same breath say that the demands of communism in this world should have signalled South African communist that communism has no future in this world. But it seems South African communist cannot learn from the history and that is unfortunate.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hela monna! Hang on! Order! Boinamo, can't you hear me? I have been calling for order and you keep on speaking going on and on. I am trying to protect you, chief. Members please give the member an opportunity to express his view. Please! Order! Carry on, hon Boinamo.
Mr G G BOINAMO: Hon Chair, as leaders we are custodians of hopes and aspirations of our nation. Let us therefore not play with the emotions of our people. Our country ranks amongst the highest in terms of unemployment. Government has promised to create 5 million jobs by 2020. However, this might just be one of those hollow promises.
Statistic South Africa's quarterly Labour force Survey for the third quarter of 2010 records the fact that, one in four South Africans 25, 3% are presently unemployed, using government's official definition, including discouraged job seekers, the figure rises to one in three which is 33, 1. This amounts to 6, 4 million South Africans who are unable to find work, support their families, and build towards their hopes and aspirations.
An endeavour that affects a labour market therefore, must be meticulously contemplated. Attempts that can help build an environment conducive to significant job creation have to be urgently considered. In the same way, measures that may exacerbate the unemployment crisis have to be avoided at all costs.
The DA unequivocally supports measures that safeguard the rights of employees; exploitative labour practices have no place in our hard earned democracy. I want to tell you that we hold, however, that legitimate calls for fair labour laws have been hijacked by self-serving interest group, which is now using claims of exploitation as a ruse to boost its membership numbers.
The DA declares that the four Labour Bills that were gazetted on 17 of December 2010 are designed partly to address the legitimate problems, and partly to appease Cosatu, Congress of South African Trade Unions, and boost the number of unionised workers. We assert that they are misguided, and do not serve the interest of the masses of this country. In principle, the DA has no objection to employees being unionised, nor do we object in principle to an interest group acting to defend its own interest.
The problem is with the Cabinet and the Department of Labour, who are acceding to Cosatu's demands with little regard to vulnerable workers who stand to loose jobs, or to the plight of the unemployed who will find it harder than ever to find jobs, should this measures be promulgated.
As the Department of Labour's own impact assessment has indicated, the cost of relatively few new permanent and therefore potentially unionised jobs will be the destruction of hundreds of thousands, and quite possibly a million jobs in the South African economy. The equation is simple; you can either have a few more permanent jobs, and a lot more unemployment or you can have more temporary jobs, and a lot less unemployment.
Clearly Cosatu would prefer the former option, for it provides them the opportunity to boost their membership numbers, and thus collect more affiliation fees. But the vast majority of the South Africans would prefer the latter. This, ultimately, is why we believe these proposed measures are wrong-headed and need to be reconsidered.
The impact assessment commissioned on this matter by the Department of Labour says that, the jobs of 2, 13 million South Africans classified as fixed-term, temporary or seasonal workers will be placed in jeopardy by these legislative measures. Not all will lose jobs - some temporary workers might be rehired in the permanent capacity. However, the majority will be made redundant with the impact assessment going, as far as to conclude that, the end result would be serious destabilising effects in the labour market. A quite unprecedented level of condemnation for a government commissioned report.
The DA holds that creating a vibrant growing economy, must be at the heart of the effort to address unemployment and alleviate poverty in South Africa. This is essentially the standard by which these proposed amendments must be judged. Will they help to create quality jobs, and enhance skills development? Will they help to alleviate poverty based on the studies available to us, and our careful assessment of these provisions set in these legislative proposals? The DA's answer to these questions is: No!
Between our catastrophic levels of unemployment and prospect of an economy with full employment, stands the impenetrable barrier of our labour laws. These wicked laws are not only throwing millions of our people into the dustbins of joblessness, not only crippling our economy, not only primary reason for South Africa being amongst the most unequal society in the world, but they are a violation of human rights. Our labour laws deny South Africans a fundamental right- the right to work.
The South African economy is performing badly with our vast natural resources, well-managed national finances and considerable industrial experience; we should be growing rapidly and lifting our people out of abject poverty. Instead, we have failed since 1994 even to reach 6% growth, easily exceeded by other developing countries. [Time expired.][Applause.]
Mr K B MANAMELA / GG / END OF TAKE
Mr G G BOINAMO
Mr K B MANAMELA: Hon Chair, hon Minister, newly appointed director-general, leaders of trade unions and other stakeholders who are present here, we want to focus on the fact that the labour laws amendments are an entrenchment of our democracy and also the deepening of freedom for the majority of workers who have a lot of confidence in the ANC-led government and the legislative process as has been shown.
Unlike, hon Ollis and the DA, we are not going to excitedly celebrate that one out of four or rather six out of ten which the electorate has voted for the ANC and reaffirmed its mandate because we represent all South Africans [Applause.]. In fact, the one out of four is merely DA plus ID, so there is nothing new that we have seen. [Applause.] That is why earlier on we were not even worried to give you the few minutes that were allocated to the ID because you are just one and the same thing; there is no difference. So we just saw a mathematical addition between the DA and the ID.
However, what is also important, which we must emphasise, is that we all agree that apartheid is dead; it was buried. Many in your bench did not like or celebrate the death of apartheid, but were happy to join in your ranks because they find some level of compromise and flirting with the apartheid system [Interjections.].
Although apartheid has died, many workers in the factories still experience and see the scars of apartheid. [Interjections.] They are borne in them. [Interjections.] It is still there, and it is something that we cannot deny. It is the labour amendment laws that seek to reverse the scars of apartheid that are still there.
For them, the factory has not changed. There is still a mlungu [bureaucrat] who is generally white, and there is still a low-ranked worker in the factory who is generally black. So, that is what they see on a daily basis in practice. [Interjections.] So, ... [Interjections.] ... hon members of the DA, cannot just come here and tell us we must accept that apartheid is dead without us basically going into the foundation of the fact that we still experience, as does many of our people, the consequences of apartheid 17 years later. In many instances, apartheid was perpetrated by the very same people whom the DA seeks to represent in this House. [Applause.]
Labour laws of this country will remain irrelevant to the majority of South Africans and workers if they do not seek to protect them and their rights. The freedom guaranteed through the struggles against apartheid and its defeat and the ushering in of democracy in 1994 will remain meaningless if they are not for the protection of the majority of workers in this particular country.
A nucleus for the ANC's approach for change in the conditions of the ordinary workers remains in the Freedom Charter which states that: "All who work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage agreements with their employers." And this particular right is also stipulated in our Constitution and in the Labour Relations Act. Unfortunately, what we have seen from the DA and the IFP, when there is a lack of ideas on what we need to do in order to create jobs for the majority of our workers, the first point of attack has always remained the trade unions which have ensured that we protect the rights of chief executive officers, CEOs, to earn R60 million in bonuses while workers remain at the lower rung of the share in the economy of this country.
The Freedom Charter goes on to say: "The state shall recognise the right and duty of all to work." As part of upholding all those responsibilities, the ANC says that the right to work does not mean to have a job and remain poor. That is what we have seen and that why these discussions about the Labour Amendment Bill remain, particularly in terms of the definition of who an employer is and who an employee is, but, more importantly, on the role of the labour brokers.
Yes, we agree that, in many instances, workers who have never been able to have access to a job or who would ordinarily not have worked, there has been a facilitation of work through labour brokers. But, the reality is that, at the end of the day, the people who benefit from that kind of a relationship remain labour brokers. What workers have been able to get, mainly, is as much as money to get to work; they can't even change the conditions which they find themselves in.
If the good so-called labour brokers - and we want to continue to argue this stipulation in the policies gazetted – want to protect the worst of the labour brokers, then it means that we will have no option but to relook this entire notion of allowing labour brokers to become the major beneficiaries of this kind of employment relationships while workers themselves do not benefit.
There have been allegations which have been repeated here. The notion that labour brokers create jobs is a false notion. Labour brokers actually exist because there are vacancies to be filled. I think that we must not come here and trump up hysteria and say people are going to lose jobs precisely because there is a discussion on whether labour brokers will be there or not.
Moving forward, part of the things which are within the Freedom Charter in terms of the ANC's purpose of ensuring that the rights of workers are protected is the notion of equal work and equal pay. Historically, this is due to the fact that a lot of companies have gone on without being monitored, using tests which ultimately discriminate workers on the basis of their race, sex, or disabilities, and so forth.
They have gone on unnoticed and have continued to perpetrate the racial apartheid laws because - which is something we have consistently raised within the portfolio committee – it is the role of labour inspectors to do so. Minister, we have to ensure that we invest a lot of money into this issue in order to ensure that the notion of equal pay is put into place.
One of the things which the DA and some other so-called intellectuals or whatever have wanted to perpetrate through the so-called Jimmy Manyi saga ... I don't know what is your relationship with Jimmy Manyi. I thought it is, actually, hon Ollis, beyond the politics. You are so infatuated with him that all the problems and everything else that has got to do with the problems in labour have got to do with Jimmy Manyi. [Interjections.].
However, one of the things which we missed with regard to the new Labour Relations Amendment Bill has been the question of permanent employees. I mentioned earlier on, for instance, that the CEO of Pick 'n Pay earned more than R60 million while workers at Pick 'n Pay have been on temporary employment for more than 20 years.
What must we say to those workers? We must respect the fact that Pick 'n Pay has a right to decide how much it pays its CEO, whereas the workers of Pick 'n Pay - who are the ones who actually create the wealth; who are the ones who actually lead to a situation wherein Pick 'n Pay's profit soars; who are the ones who ensured that the democracy we are enjoying that has given him and the board of directors that right to pay him that R60 million ...
We must shut our eyes and say that it is in the name of profit maximisation. It is the capitalist system; we must accept it. There is no future for any other economic system. Is that what we should be explaining to our workers? [Interjections.] That is why it is important to ensure that through these labour laws, the notion of permanent jobs versus temporary jobs helps workers realise their democracy and their freedom.
Finally, we have to and we are happy that a lot of resources have been invested in the Department of Labour in order to make sure that, upon amendments, there is going to be a whole range of discussions and engagements throughout this term of office. I like the fact that, when you came here, you said that the elections are over, and there will be no politicking.
Since the elections are over, we hope that you will now be able to go into your very bankrupt intellectual energy, so that we are able to make sure that we help not only those who are seeking to make profit out of the exploitation of workers, but also the workers themselves. There can be no one who comes out and say apartheid has come to an end whereas they want to consistently defend the laws which were the veins of that apartheid system. [Interjections.] That is what we are saying with this new labour legislation and we hope that you will join in; not in representation of one out of four, but in representation of all South Africans - black, white, Indian, coloured, and everybody. Thank you very much, Chair. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF LABOUR / END OF TAKE
Mr K B MANAMELA
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Chairperson, firstly I want to thank all the participants in this debate, as well as everybody who attended has this debate. I won't respond to all of the issues that were raised, but I just want to respond to some of them.
I want to appeal to the hon members that, when we start presenting the budget debate, as the department, some of them must really listen very carefully particularly when it comes to some of the issues that we raise during the budget speech. One such issue relates to the processing of claims. Yes, we did acknowledge the pace with which the claims were being processed. We have said that the turnaround strategy is in an advanced stage and we are decentralising the processing of claims. That will make sure that the claims are processed quicker.
Another issue that we need to look at is that when we do inspection we do it to make sure that workers are protected and that they work in a safe environment. But, at the same time, we do it to assist the companies or employers, so that they are aware as to whether or not the conditions in which they are doing production are environmentally friendly. We can prevent a lot of injuries, provided that the employers can also take part in making sure that the workers are aware of or trained on safety measures in the companies. With regard to whether or not the department is delivering for all, the answer is yes because whenever we do inspection, we assist both the workers and employers.
On the issue of public service employment, we are not going to wait for the proposed amendment to be finalised because we have a responsibility to register the job seekers, as well as those who were retrenched. We also have the responsibility to try and counsel the job seekers on career paths because you will find that some of them took certain subjects during their schooling days, but applied for positions that do not talk to what they studied. That is what we are doing as the department.
At the same time we try to match and place those job seekers in various places. Therefore, we can't wait for the proposed amendment that is before the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac. We are also going to attend to that particular issue because I think that it has taken a very long time for Nedlac to finalise that process. I know that there are people who are speaking on behalf of other people. I don't think that we can come here or go wherever, in public, and say that this is what is going to happen because I'm still waiting for the report from our social partners in Nedlac. I respect the responsibility of all those social partners.
The other issue that I want to address is that of saying that this legislation is based on what Mr Manyi said when he was... [Interjections.] No, it's not over. I've got 10 minutes. Unfortunately I was the House Chair previously, so I how these watches work. [Laughter.] Sometimes they can do their own thing at the wrong time.
I just want to respond on the issue of what was said by Mr Manyi. I think that we must determine the capacity in which Mr Manyi said what he said at that stage. Yes, he was the director-general, but Mr Manyi was addressing the Black Management Forum, BMF, which he addressed in his capacity as its president, not as the director-general of the department. Therefore, we must determine that and not push Jimmy Manyi to wear a hat that he was not wearing. [Applause.] I think that the hon members should get the footage of the SABC... [Interjections.] Then it means that you did not listen to what Manyi said from the beginning, particularly what he said in KwaZulu-Natal. He was there as the president of the BMF, not as the director-general of the department. Therefore... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON: Mr C T FROLICK: Order, hon members, order! Let us allow the Minister to respond the response to the debate.
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: No, my time is not up and that's the unfortunate part of it. You must also ask your Whips how they allocate time, before you come and complain here. I think we must wait for the process of Nedlac to be finalised and then when it's your turn, as parliamentarians, to deliberate on those proposed amendments, that's when you can also try and convince each other on what that legislation should look like.
I want to say that you must consider what has been said by the public. I have not even said what the public said, but I know that as Members of Parliament you are going to do public hearings, therefore, you must wait for that moment.
I also want to give clarity on certain issues because it seems as if you are saying that the Department of Labour is working for Cosatu, or whatever. As the Department of Labour we are working with three federations, that is Cosatu, Federation of Unions of South Africa, Fedusa, and Nactwu. We also include the organised businesses as our social partners. That is why, in most cases, whenever we deal with issues as labour we involve both organised labour and -businesses.
If you remember - I do believe that you always watch the news - we had the business summit and later had the labour job summit. Those are the things that I want to clarify because yes, we may have the alliance with Cosatu, but some of you also have an alliance with Fedusa, but we don't complain about that. It's unfortunate that in most cases you go out and speak on behalf of the federations without their mandate. I think that we must wait for the processes to unfold. [Interjections.]
You also raised the issue of factories being closed in New Castle because of the bargaining council's decisions. As a country we have a legislation that allows companies to apply for exemptions. If those companies don't want to do so, we can't force them to apply. Therefore, I think that we need to accept that it was their decision not to apply for the exemptions.
I also want to touch on the issue of labour brokers. I said that there are labour brokers that have negative tendencies. For example, at Shoprite Checkers, and Rainbow Chickens in KwaZulu-Natal, there were two incidents where workers were killed by machines. When the families went there to claim, Rainbow Chickens said that the guy was employed by a labour broker, and the company, therefore, can't pay anything for that particular person. They don't even get pensions when they leave these companies, while you as Members of Parliament enjoy the fact that when you leave Parliament you will get pensions. I think that we must look into those issues and determine how we should protect our vulnerable workers in this country.
We must also make sure that whoever invests in this country complies with the laws of the country. That's when we will be able to be proud and say that we protect both the employers and the employees, particularly the employees.
By the way, when strikes are taking place in some instances, you must not undermine workers and think that they don't understand the financial implications in those particular companies. Workers know how much profit was made, and therefore, they also want to get something out of that. You can't pay a person a bonus of R1 million while you can't afford to pay just R300, as increment, for a lower paid worker in that particular company. I think that we must look at those things.
Lastly, I just want to say that these proposed amendments are based on the international conventions, of which organised businesses and -labour from South Africa are part of the signatory on how we should treat workers as social partners. I believe that hon Ollis you will be in Geneva and you will be able to interrogate those decisions, and even if you were not able to convince other people, you will be bound by those decisions that are going to be taken in the IMO.
Finally, I just want to say to the hon members that, as Members of Parliament, you have the responsibility to do oversight, and oversight is in different folds. If you want information, you have to tell the department that, as the portfolio committee we are going to have a meeting and these are the issues that we would like the department to come and address us on. That way you will get the correct information, rather than work on assumptions. Thank you. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 12:05
/UNH / END OF TAKE
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