Hansard: EPC: Debate on Vote No 28 – Labour
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 07 May 2015
No summary available.
Thursday, 7 May 2015 Thursday, 7 May 2015
EPC - OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Thursday, 7 May 2015 Take: 39
THURSDAY, 7 MAY 2015
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 14:00.
House Chairperson Ms M G Boroto, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto)
START OF DAY
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, the podiums are here, one on each side. Those who speak from this side will have to use this one, and those who speak from that side will use that one.
Hon Ollis and colleague, I am not sure – yesterday I was told that I will have to add minutes because this chair is actually reserved for speakers. I’m not sure if you can just allow us to ...
Mr I M OLLIS: [Inaudible.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much. I just wanted to say that. Yes, thank you.
The MINISTER OF LABOUR
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto)
Debate on Vote No 28 – Labour:
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Hon Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon Deputy Ministers, hon members, leaders of our social partners, members of the audit committee, members of the boards, director-general and the officials of the department, our esteemed guests, and ladies and gentlemen, it is always a pleasure and an honour to address this august House on the occasion of our Budget Vote for the year ahead, and beyond.
There is no doubt that this platform gives us an opportunity to account to the nation by recalling the commitments we made in the previous Budget Vote; giving an account of what we have done to meet these commitments; highlighting challenges that we have encountered in the process; indicating steps that are being taken to address them; bragging about our milestone achievements to date; and pointing out what remains to be done.
It is of the utmost significance that in June this year we will be commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, the road map drawn by the Congress of the People in 1955. It is not by accident that the Freedom Charter has, to this day, remained the cornerstone of the ruling party’s policies, and it is, by all accounts, the foundation of the South African Constitution.
There are many instances where the Freedom Charter is captured word for word in many passages of our Constitution, the ruling party’s election manifestos and our labour laws. It is also true that our labour laws are an expression of the Congress of the People’s declaration, “There shall be work and security!”
We have learnt a great deal from our complex past, adding continuously to our experience in the things that we do. “No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life.” These are some of the reference points that inform what we do, and our labour laws are designed in a manner that seeks to do precisely these things.
I would like the House to note that our budget is being presented to this House a week after we celebrated Workers’ Day. The Workers’ Day celebration is a perfect reminder to all of us that we are indeed free and that the rights we enjoy today cannot be taken for granted, as they came at a price.
Recently we have lost a number of tried and tested icons of our movement, some of whom were from the workers’ struggle tradition. We also witnessed the reburial recently of two icons of our workers’ struggle, Moses Kotane and J B Marks. We pay homage to all our fallen heroes and heroines. We say to them, “You will remain an inspiration for our work, and may your souls rest in eternal peace.”
We decided on, “Leveraging labour relations to contribute towards promoting social and economic wellbeing of our society” as our theme for this Budget Vote. The choice of the theme was inspired in the main by the spirit and the letter of our Constitution and the Freedom Charter.
I am indeed proud of the fact that as a country we chose the rights-based approach to realising the economic and social rights of our people, particularly the poor and the marginalised. The affirmation that our labour market dispensation is premised on focusing on the promotion of minimum conditions to restore workers’ dignity as a people is correct and non-negotiable.
It is also correct that our labour laws set minimum conditions and our social partners are encouraged to do better. The principle that you cannot vary the minimum conditions downwards is important. We will celebrate the day when all employers stand up and say their workers enjoy working conditions that are way above the set minimum standards.
This year, as we celebrate the 21st anniversary of democracy in this country, it is almost impossible to ignore the contribution that the new labour market dispensation has made in transforming the workplace. It has been a long but interesting journey of working with our social partners, who, together with us, have created the architecture of our labour regulatory framework. We should all be proud that our labour laws are counted among the best in the world.
At the risk of sounding simplistic, there is some truth that when workers earn a living wage, it means they have reasonable disposable income to spend on goods and services produced by the economy. If the demand for goods and services rises, the entire supply chain inevitably starts experiencing an increase in its output volumes, resulting in direct and indirect positive social and economic spin-offs. Given that our economy is, by and large, consumer-led, the scenario painted above cannot be ignored.
Our labour market policy landscape has in its mix a comprehensive unemployment insurance facility which is considered an example of international best practice. The Unemployment Insurance Fund is one of the key elements of the social security safety net. It is a fact and not fiction that the Compensation Fund is arguably one of the biggest medical aid and pension funds for workers who get injured or who contract diseases at work.
Similarly the Training Layoff Scheme, which is funded by the UIF, continues to assist companies in distress to keep workers on their payroll whilst skilling and reskilling. Despite a couple of niggling process flow-related challenges, the scheme remains an important active labour market intervention. These interventions provide income in instances where it would ordinarily not have been possible. They are critical as catalysts for promoting the social and economic wellbeing of our society.
We can therefore boldly claim that our labour market policies are not a hindrance to economic growth, but a catalyst where and when it matters most. These active labour market interventions are key ingredients of our social security safety nets.
Let me now take a moment to recall the commitments we made in the previous Budget Vote and the highlights going forward. Please note that a more detailed account of these can be gleaned from our annual report. I will spend more time on the recently amended labour legislation, as the most exciting and challenging achievements in the period under review were there.
Through the UIF-funded active labour market interventions, the Labour Activation Programme is becoming a game changer of note in the facilitation of skills enhancement. We targeted 2 000 UIF beneficiaries for training to prepare them for re-entry into the labour market, but instead 3 117 workers were supported, and 600 of these trainees were reabsorbed, in real jobs. A total of 5 104 were supported through training offered by accredited Sector Education and Training Authorities, and 450 aspiring entrepreneurs benefited through tailored training programmes.
The fund ring-fenced R10 billion for socially responsible investments, where the target will be to support labour-intensive projects. Whilst the numbers may not be where we would want them to be, we are, however, very pleased with the progress so far. We are also pleased to report that the R29 million that was allocated to Productivity SA for turnaround solutions continues to yield excellent results. A total of 3 891 jobs were saved through these interventions in the 2014-15 financial year. We also acknowledge and thank the Department of Trade and Industry for its continued support for the Workplace Challenge programme. Its impact is invaluable.
The Compensation Fund has continued to be one of the key priorities for the department. We fully understand the challenges in the fund and we are dealing with them. In August 2014 the fund introduced a new electronic claims management system, called Umehluko. This cuts out the manual system which has been the main source of problems in the fund for many years. Umehluko has, within a short space of time, brought about demonstrable improvements in the processes of assessing and paying claims, albeit with some teething problems.
The new system, unlike the old manual system, cuts out human interference, making it near impossible to be manipulated for sinister reasons. As service providers become more familiar with the system, teething problems will become minimal. We are going to build on progress made so far, targeting key operational areas, such as revenue management, and building payroll audit to improve efficiency in the collection of revenue covering the appropriate risk of employment.
We will also take steps to enhance the online registration capabilities and the introduction of a comprehensive hospital case management system. We have given ourselves tight timeframes to eradicate the backlog, which has remained one of the biggest sources of frustration among service providers and workers alike.
Our resolve to improve the audit outcomes of the fund is also very much one of our top priorities. We will keep the relevant parliamentary committees abreast of progress in this regard. Please bear with us, as these things tend to take time.
Hon members will recall that the Deputy President has been given the assignment to drive the engagement with the social partners to seek solutions to the new phenomena of prolonged strikes and strike-related violence, and investigating the modalities of introducing a national minimum wage. To this end, the Deputy President convened the Labour Relations Indaba on 4 November 2014, where a declaration and a road map to address these challenges were adopted. Work has already commenced in this regard.
In 2014 we identified a couple of key priority areas. I will touch briefly on some of them, with the Deputy Minister covering the rest.
To give meaningful impact to the recently amended labour laws, our Inspections and Enforcement arm has to be vigilant, or else these workers’ gains will mean nothing. Therefore, our efforts to strengthen the Inspections and Enforcement Services remain one of our top priorities.
We used izimbizo to brief workers on what the new labour law amendments mean for them and how to derive maximum benefits from these fresh laws. We also used various media platforms for creating awareness among the broader society on what the new amendments mean for the workers. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and the department ran road shows around the country to raise awareness of the new labour legislation dispensation.
In 2014 we said filling the post of the director-general in the department was our priority and we have found a director-general, Mr Thobile Lamati, who has been in the job for a couple of months now. Let me thank Mr Sam Morotoba, who held the fort in an acting capacity for at least 75% of the 2014-15 financial year.
At this stage the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill is before Parliament. Since it could not be finalised by the end of the Fourth Parliament, it is being resuscitated as we speak. The purpose of the proposed amendments includes extending the period to draw unemployment benefits from eight to 12 months; extending the period within which a contributor can lodge a claim from six to 12 months; and extending the scope of the fund to cover public servants and workers in the learnership programmes, among other things. There is also the matter of including domestic workers in maternity benefits.
The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill, on which there are currently consultations with the social partners in Nedlac, will be introduced in Parliament during this period. The purpose of the proposed amendments is to align the Act with other labour legislation and to introduce provisions to regulate triangular relationships.
The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill, which is currently going through internal processes within the department, will also be tabled in Parliament during this period. The purpose of the proposed amendments is to align the Act with other labour legislation and to introduce provisions that provide a legal framework for the fund to promote habilitation and rehabilitation programmes to facilitate a return-to-work objective.
Given the significance and the benefits that will accrue to workers once these proposed amendments become law, and in the spirit and the letter of the ruling party’s 2009 and 2014 election manifestos, we humbly request that Parliament accord the consideration of these Bills a high degree of priority.
I am advised that it was the first time in the history of labour relations in South Africa that four labour-related amendment Bills were signed into law in less than three months in succession. Some commentators even suggested that there was no international precedent for such an achievement. [Applause.] Today, we are proud to have on our Statute Book the revised and progressive Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the landmark Employment Services Act.
I want to thank Members of Parliament for their hard work in making this possible, particularly the members of the portfolio and select committees. Without your going the extra mile, this would not have been achievable. There are, indeed, bitter and joyous memories of the journey towards the adoption of these amendments. We look forward to working with you on many fronts, and this term will be equally busy, given our plans going forward.
The challenge going forward will be to make the new laws count for workers in general, and vulnerable workers in particular. I am advised that there are some employers who have dismissed workers in order to sidestep the new, amended laws. Others are contemplating approaching the courts with a view to watering down the transformational character of the revamped labour laws.
Let me, however, warn those employers who are engaging in this practice that there is a provision in the new law that is designed to prevent this practice, if it is proven that they are doing this purely to sidestep the law. It is very strange that those who are bitter about some of the amendments are quiet about the mitigating provisions in the law. The law does provide exemptions where there are justifiable reasons. As for those who are seeking court interventions with malicious intent, we are keeping an eye on you. Our Inspections and Enforcement Services and the CCMA will have to rise to the occasion and become more vigilant in this respect.
We must dismiss the myth that labour brokers create jobs. They don’t, as they are merely intermediaries. [Applause.]
Why these amendments, hon members and fellow South Africans? While South Africa has made huge strides in transforming itself into a better place for all who live in it, transforming the workplace is the assignment that is still far from finished. In order to stay in touch with the changes brought about by internal and external factors, we also need to keep an eye on whether or not the policies we set are still capable of achieving the intended outcomes. I also want to assure Members of Parliament that during the engagement with our social partners, the organisations of the employers, and the organisations of the labour brokers, all committed to complying with the laws.
Examining the case law, our international obligations, poor levels of compliance and emergence of new forms of employment were some of the reasons for the recent amendments.
Some of the critical questions that we had to ponder as the rationale behind crafting these amendments included the following. Is it correct that a worker can be a casual employee for the rest of his or her working life? Why should a worker be a temporary worker forever, when the job that he or she does is permanent? [Applause.] Why should a worker, just because he or she is employed by a labour broker, not be able to take his or her case to the CCMA, or be paid less than his or her colleague? Why should there be differences in pay and conditions of work among employees performing the same work, or substantially the same work, or work of equal value? Why should a workseeker be charged a fee in order to be placed by a temporary employment services agent?
I submit that in the main the recent labour law amendments were driven largely by the ruling party’s 2009 manifesto and by our giving careful consideration to these questions. So, it was the exercise of fine-tuning the law, and tooling and retooling the labour market institutions, so that they can do their work better.
What do these amendments mean for the labour market? First and foremost, these amendments bring clarity to areas of the labour law that were ambiguous. They align the law with the case law and gaps identified by various courts of the land. They bring about alignment with our international obligations. They address the abusive practices that are inherent in various forms of employment, such as labour broking. Finally, they also address certain aspects of the sectoral determination, in order to ensure that they remain meaningful to workers in the sectors concerned.
I am particularly pleased that, at the very least, most of what became the final products were the outcome of negotiations by the social partners in Nedlac, input from the general public – with few areas where absolute consensus could not be found – and the rigours of the economic impact assessment test.
Our key priority areas going forward include expediting the finalisation of the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill, which could not be completed, as I have said; improving the efficiency of the Compensation Fund; fast-tracking the tabling of the proposed Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill and the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill; rolling out the self-help kiosks in order to improve service delivery; continuing to build the ICT capacity of the department; reviewing minimum wages for vulnerable sectors; ramping-up our performance in managing workplace conflict and dispute resolution; advancing the capacity of the inspectorate and enforcement; and continuing to play a meaningful role in the international relations world of work.
While this budget is inadequate relative to what needs to be done, we will do the best we can. As I close, let me say that we implore our social partners to continue their support of our endeavours to create a labour market environment conducive to investment, economic growth, job creation and decent work.
Let me thank the Deputy Minister of Labour, iNkosi Phatekile Holomisa, for his support during this time. It is clear that we indeed make a good team. [Applause.] As you have seen, he has given me a bottle of water! [Laughter.]
Let me also thank the leadership of our social partners, of our advisory boards and of our audit committees for their support and invaluable contributions during this time. In addition, we call on all of you to continue lending a hand. Thanks go to the director-general, his management team and the entire Department of Labour staff for their efforts and support.
I would like to commend the R2,7 billion budget of the Department of Labour to this House. Together, let’s move South Africa forward.
Ndithi nangomso, malungu ahloniphekileyo. Amaqobokazana angalala endleleni yazini kunyembelekile. [Kwaphela ixesha.]
Ms L E YENGENI
The MINISTER OF LABOUR
Ms L E YENGENI: Hon Chairperson, hon Members of Parliament, comrades and guests, the ANC supports this budget vote. [Applause.]
I dedicate this presentation to all the heroes and heroines of our revolution, especially those who paid the highest price with their most noble possession, their precious lives, so that we can live and make a contribution to building a nonracial, democratic , nonsexist and prosperous South Africa.
I want to pay special tribute to generations of leaders and cadres, the living and those that have passed on, for their outstanding contribution to building and creating an independent, revolutionary and militant trade union movement in South Africa over many decades. That trade union movement has made an immense contribution to moulding workers’ battles for their demands from the time of the emergence of the first trade union in South Africa to date.
Previous generations have bequeathed to us intact, united and militant formations, whose only focus has been to champion the aspirations of our people. Our generation has no choice but to uphold those noble traditions, and to strengthen and unite our movement so that its historic mission of liberating our people is fulfilled, and joblessness, grinding poverty, illiteracy and disease are banished from our motherland, South Africa, once and for all.
The reason we must be proud of the history of our struggle is so that we can locate and place our current struggles in their correct historical perspective, and so that we can find solace in and draw inspiration from the countless examples of heroes from generations and generations before us.
Our generation stands at the threshold of changing our current economic structure into a new one that must serve the interests of our people as a whole. Our generation must be counted among many others as that generation that left no stone unturned in achieving the noble aspirations of our people. Our generation must be bold and refuse to be intimidated or provoked, and therefore never take its eyes off the ball. Our generation’s mission must be to achieve economic justice for all – not for some, but for all.
The ANC has declared 2015 the Year of the Freedom Charter. This year, 2015, is the 60th anniversary of this great document adopted in Kliptown in 1955 by congress delegates from the length and breadth of our beloved South Africa. The Freedom Charter has been a blueprint and guide to action for generations of revolutionaries in the congress movement.
The Freedom Charter is as relevant and inspirational today as it was 60 years ago. Clause 6 of this historic document declares that “There shall be work and security!” That clause was a direct response to the oppressive apartheid labour laws that existed then. The only fitting way to celebrate this Charter is the speedy implementation of all its clauses.
Comrades and friends, our people are getting more impatient by the day. This impatience is understandable. We can’t continue in the same old way. We need to increase the pace of change for the better. We can’t continue coming to these Chambers to play petty and childish little games, whilst our people continue to wallow in grinding poverty. We have to be bold and grab the bull by the horns. We must unreservedly uproot indiscipline, bureaucracy and corruption in all operations.
Parliament must be brought back to its former glory as a Parliament of the people, by the people, for the people and not for us here. This Parliament must be a platform for serious and dignified debate and lawmaking, and not a theatre for useless drama by lost puppets who are seeking attention. This is a national symbol of the people’s power. We were all sent here by our people’s votes to build a country.
When we ascend the podium to speak, we must understand that we are not talking merely to those in the House, but to millions out there who are glued to their television screens watching, listening and hoping for outcomes that will bring relief and hope for them and their children. It is not about us here; it’s about them out there.
Of course, as different parties in this House, we do not agree on everything. Sometimes we may not agree because of our political and ideological backgrounds. We must learn, as fellow South Africans, to live and work together. If we do not agree after a protracted debate, let’s vote and move forward. In any democratic society, the view of the majority is respected; otherwise, there would be general chaos in society. Sometimes there is general chaos in this House, because the view of the majority is not respected. However, that does not suggest that the views of the smaller parties do not count, as they are also democratically elected.
The main reason we have these budget votes is for us as Parliament to exercise our oversight role and ensure that the executive spends taxpayers’ money in a responsible and efficient manner and that it focuses on programmes that are going to change people’s lives for the better. We Members of Parliament from all parties must, during these budget votes, condemn unlawful expenditure, bureaucracy and corruption. We must all hold the executive to account. This is the only way to make this country successful.
The ushering in of a democratic society in South Africa 21 years ago created favourable conditions for the abolishment of the oppressive and exploitative apartheid labour laws, and the bringing in of legislation that protects the rights of workers. The Department of Labour is tasked with the responsibility to ensure that workers in South Africa work under protected and safe conditions. The establishment of various inspectorates is part and parcel of taking that strategy forward.
It is therefore regrettable that Treasury has deemed it fit to withdraw an allocation of R60 million which was earmarked for developing and strengthening the “teeth” of inspectors, so that they can “bite” the employers who continue the brutal exploitation of workers, as if 27 April 1994 never happened.
There is a perception out there that the ANC government, through the Department of Labour, has neglected the safety of workers. To deal with this perception, let’s look at the number of inspectors before 1994 and the number of accidents in the country then, for which there was no compensation. Then let’s look at what this ANC government has done thus far through the Department of Labour to address the imbalances of the past.
These historical facts are a clear and visible demonstration that we are indeed a government that cares and keeps its promises, and a government that adheres to its political mandate. We do criticise the Department of Labour when necessary but, as we criticise, it is also important to acknowledge the good work done by the department.
The department openly acknowledged that there were weaknesses in the system, but said that those were being attended to. The entire committee commended the DG for their plan and efforts to improve the situation. We salute the Minister for her guidance and leadership in this department.
On the issue of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration lease that went wrong and the National Economic Development and Labour Council forensic report, the committee concluded that both Nedlac and the CCMA should appear before the committee so that we can get to the bottom of the challenges.
On the national minimum wage, we have concluded the public hearings in all nine provinces and we will be meeting employers, trade unions and small business.
We cannot be naive though, and create the impression that in this House we all want the same thing, that apartheid is dead, and that we all want democracy. The facts of life are that the enemies of our revolution are still alive and kicking. In the same way that the apartheid regime sought to bury the ANC, the same agenda still exists for some elements in this country and in this House. That is why the DA and others do not want us to talk about the history of our struggle. They are allergic to that history. There is clear evidence of a history of brutal exploitation of black South Africans by the forefathers of the DA members. [Interjections.]
The tension that is exists between us and some opposition parties in this House, especially the DA, is not merely a misunderstanding but an expression of deep historical, political and ideological differences that date back many centuries. [Interjections.]
In our view, the apartheid state is dead and will never come back again. However, it continues to exist in the minds of the members of the DA. A practical example is that of the outgoing leader of the DA, Helen Zille, who classified Africans who came to seek jobs and reside in the Western Cape as refugees in the land of their forefathers. [Applause.] That statement exposes the apartheid mindset of the DA. [Interjections.] They govern the Western Cape as if 27 April never existed. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order, hon members! Order! [Interjections.] Order! [Interjections.]
Ms L E YENGENI: What the DA members say is misleading, because they are faking their political posture. They claim to be democratic and nonracial, but the leadership of the DA is lily-white, with a sprinkling of Maimanes who are at pains to prove ... [Interjections.] ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order, hon members. Order! [Interjections.] Order! Continue, hon member.
Ms L E YENGENI: My time will be given back. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, please don’t drown the speaker. [Interjections.]
Ms L E YENGENI: They claim to be democratic and nonracial, but the leadership of the DA is lily-white with a sprinkling of Maimanes ... [Interjections.] ... who are at pains to prove the legitimacy and the correctness of their political affiliation to our people. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Yengeni, we will restore your minutes.
Ms L E YENGENI: Okay.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, if you have an issue that is a point of debate, you have your representative who is going to speak. Please, allow the speaker to continue. Continue, hon chairperson of the committee.
Ms L E YENGENI: The DA’s political posture resembles that of a wolf disguised as a sheep. That is why the DA desperately wants to have black leaders. It seeks to erase that history and hoodwink the masses into believing that it has changed and it has people in its ranks that represent their aspirations. This is nothing other than a big fat lie. [Interjections.] The DA has not changed. It is very much the true representative of the ideals of Cecil John Rhodes and Jan van Riebeeck.
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, I am raising a point of order on relevance. What has this got to do with the budget debate on Labour? [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Waters, remember that we don’t sit in the Portfolio Committee on Labour. If you have problems with what is said by the speaker, you know what to do. Please allow the member to conclude. [Interjections.]
Mr M WATERS: What should I do, Chair? What should I do?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon member, please sit and allow the member to ...
Mr M WATERS: Chair, I am asking what I must do. You said I “know what to do”. I am asking for guidance. Thank you. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon member, you know. It is not for me to advise you what to do. You know the processes of this Parliament. You know what happens when a member is not satisfied. We cannot open another debate here. We have a Budget Vote to deal with. [Interjections.] So, if you are not satisfied with the utterances, you know what to do and, if you don’t, let us advise you after this debate. Don’t stop it now and go and ask for advice, please. [Interjections.]
Ms L E YENGENI: The DA has not changed. It is still very much the true representative of the ideals of Cecil John Rhodes and Jan van Riebeeck. [Interjections.] The so-called black leaders are parading in front of our people like Maimane and Ramphele...
Mr B A RADEBE: Chairperson!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, please! Can we allow the speaker to speak? I told you what to do. Do you need to be assisted? You will be assisted after this, if you want to know what processes to follow if you are dissatisfied.
Ms L E YENGENI: The so-called black leaders ...
Mr B A RADEBE: Hon Chairperson, on a point of order: There was a nasty gesture from the member of the DA in front there, indicating that the member of the ANC is mad. Can you please deal with that?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members! Which member? [Interjections.] Hon Dreyer, please stand. [Interjections.] Hon members, order! Hon Dreyer, Rule 63 tells us about offensive language and a gesture is part of the language. Can you confirm that you made the gesture?
Mrs A M DREYER: Madam Chairperson, I did make the gesture and I withdraw the gesture. I just want to say that ... [Inaudible.] ... mad.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Dreyer! Hon Dreyer, please stand. [Interjections.] Hon Dreyer, are you saying that a member of this House is mentally disturbed? [Interjections.]
Mrs A M DREYER: No.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Dreyer, please withdraw that.
Mrs A M DREYER: I did not say that any member is mad at all. I say certain ideas are mad ideas.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): But can you withdraw the gesture, hon member, please?
Mrs A M DREYER: I withdraw the gesture.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much. That’s enough.
Mrs A M DREYER: I won’t show it; I will only say it.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Dreyer, that’s enough. That’s enough. Continue, hon member. Please refrain from making such gestures.
Ms L E YENGENI: The so-called black leaders are parading in front of our people.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order, members! Hon Waters, what are you standing on?
Mr M WATERS: Rule 63, “Offensive language”.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes.
Mr M WATERS: Three times in a row the speaker has referred to the “so-called black leaders” of the DA. That is an insult to black people in the party. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Waters, please sit. [Interjections.] Please sit. Let me address you. Hon members, if you are referring to the black leaders that she mentioned, I don’t see anything that is offensive, because we have black leaders in the DA. Thank you. [Interjections.] Hon members!
Mr S C MOTAU: Hon Chair, we are not ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Motau, we did not recognise you. [Interjections.]
Mr S C MOTAU: We are not “so-called black leaders”.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): We did not recognise you!
Mr S C MOTAU: I am not ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Please, wait. Hon Motau, please wait!
Mr S C MOTAU: I am not a “so-called black leader”. I don’t insult anybody in this House. That speaker must stop insulting us. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Please, wait! [Interjections.] Hon member! [Interjections.] Hon members, I understand what you are saying, but that is a point of debate. [Interjections.] I am just going ... [Interjections.] Hon members! Hon members, may I please request ... [Interjections.] Hon members, may I please request the hon speaker on the podium to please use the language that is correct in the House. Thank you. [Interjections.] There is nothing to withdraw. [Interjections.] There is nothing to withdraw. [Interjections.] Hon Waters?
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, we have had problems before with presiding officers being biased and not enforcing the Rules equally on both sides of the House. We have raised this in Parliament several times. In fact, the Deputy President ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon member, the point of order has been made. [Interjections.]
Mr M WATERS: Yes, ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): No! I am not going to allow another debate. You said that you are rising on a point of order ...
Mr M WATERS: Yes.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): ... and your point of order is now accusing me of being biased. [Interjections.]
Mr M WATERS: Yes.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): That is not a point of order relevant to this debate.
Mr M WATERS: Of course it is. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): That is why I want to respond to you. Hon Waters, your problem is that the hon speaker said “black leaders”.
HON MEMBERS: No! No! [Interjections.]
Mr M WATERS: No! No!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): That is what you said.
Mr M WATERS: She said “so-called blacks”. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Okay. That is not what the person who raised the point of order said.
Mr M WATERS: Yes, it was. It was. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, what is wrong? [Interjections.] Hon Waters, you said that she said “black leaders”. That’s why ...
Mr M WATERS: She said, “so-called”.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): So, you are adding to what you said. It is a new order now.
Mr M WATERS: I am not adding. That is what I said.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much. Can I please ... [Interjections.] Sit down! If you are talking about the “so-called black leaders”, then I understand, but that is not the point of order you raised before. [Interjections.] Thank you very much. Hon Yengeni, would you please just refrain from using offensive language.
HON MEMBERS: Withdraw! Withdraw! [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you. [Interjections.] Continue.
HON MEMBERS: Withdraw! Withdraw! [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): No! No! [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: You are biased!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): If you think I am biased, you know what processes to follow. [Interjections.] Continue, hon member.
HON MEMBERS: You are biased!
Ms L E YENGENI: I was still on black leaders. They are parading in front of our people like Maimane and Ramphele, but they are nothing other than reactionary sell-outs in the very same way Matanzima and Sebe were during the struggle against apartheid. [Interjections.]
The main intention of all this is to destroy the ANC and take over political power. Truth will always emerge as the winner. The truth is revolutionary. Where is Lindiwe Mazibuko today? Where is Mamphela Ramphele today? [Interjections.] Why ... [Interjections.] Why ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order, hon members. [Interjections.] Hon members, order! There shall be order in this House. Hon Mackenzie, please stand, and the hon member here, please stand. Hon member, you just shouted, “Rubbish!” [Interjections.]
Mr J R B LORIMER: I did not, Madam Chairperson. I reject that, Madam Chairperson, completely. I did not shout, “Rubbish!“
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): It’s not you? But I heard “Rubbish!” from this side.
Mr J R B LORIMER: Well, it is not me.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I can’t ask people. I thought it was you. [Interjections.] Sit down. Thank you. I apologise if it was not you. Hon members, if you have an issue to raise, your speaker is still coming to the podium. Please, give her those complaints to raise. Thank you. Continue.
Ms L E YENGENI: Where is Mamphela Ramphele today? [Interjections.]
Why are all the DA women mentioned in the recent sex scandal email silent, yet all the men who were mentioned have responded? Why? [Interjections.] One day, all these skeletons will tumble out of the cupboard, because the truth cannot be suppressed. [Interjections.]
Mrs A M DREYER: Madam Chairperson. Madam Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Wait, hon Yengeni. Hon Dreyer?
Mrs A M DREYER: Madam so-called Chairperson, may I ask the so-called speaker where member Yengeni is today.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Dreyer, no, you can’t do that. [Interjections.] I must allow you to ask a question. You cannot just stand up and, when I ask you what your point of order is, start asking questions. Please! So, that is disregarded. Continue.
Ms L E YENGENI: Let me repeat. [Interjections.] Where is Lindiwe Mazibuko today? Where is Mamphela Ramphele today? [Interjections.] Why are the DA women silent, yet all the men who were mentioned have responded? [Interjections.] One day all these skeletons will come out of the cupboard, because the truth cannot be suppressed. [Interjections.] We must point out that the party that will defeat the ANC in the elections ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order! Order! Order! Hon member, please wait. Hon De Freitas, if I’m correct, at the back behind hon Mubu, ...
Mr M S F DE FREITAS: That’s me?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes. Can you please stand? No, not you, hon Mubu. Hon member, we are here talking in this House on a budget vote.
HON MEMBERS: No, we’re not! [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): The personal life or the personal issues of hon Yengeni are not for this House, for you to shout about. [Interjections.] Thank you very much. Would you please refrain from doing that?
Mr M S F DE FREITAS: Doing what? I’m sorry?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): You cannot continue to ask, “Where is your husband?” We are not talking about husbands here.
Mr M S F DE FREITAS: I am allowed to heckle. The convention of this House allows me to heckle and I will continue to heckle. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon De Freitas, please sit down! Please sit! Continue. [Interjections.]
Ms L E YENGENI: We must point out that the party ...
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, on a point of order: The speaker can ask where other members of the DA are, but we can’t ask where a member of the ANC is. [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: Where is the consistency?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon member, ...
Mr M WATERS: Yes, where is the consistency?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon member, don’t talk about the leaders of this party. We are talking about members of the parties. We are not talking about your husband or your wife. That is what I am against.
Mr M WATERS: As far as I know, ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much. Sit down!
Mr M WATERS: Chair! Chair! Chair! Chair! [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Sit down!
Mr M WATERS: As far as I know, ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I’m no longer going to take a point of order from you, if it is still on this issue.
Mr M WATERS: Mr Yengeni was a Member of Parliament.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon member, please sit down.
Mr M WATERS: We all would like to know where he is. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Continue, hon Yengeni. [Interjections.]
Ms L E YENGENI: We must point out that the party that will defeat the ANC in the elections and replace it as government has not been born yet. [Interjections.]
Mr B M MKONGI: Chairperson! Chairperson! Chairperson!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes, hon Mkongi.
Mr B M MKONGI: Chairperson, on a point of order: You have made a ruling about personalising questions here. I am not sure whether it is parliamentary for me to ask where the wife of the Chief Whip of the DA is. Am I going to be allowed to ask that?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon member, I think I have addressed that. Let us leave it there. Continue, hon member. [Interjections.] Hon members, this debate ... [Interjections.] Hon members! Hon members! Hon members, order! This debate is not about you. It is about the nation out there. [Interjections.] If you don’t want to listen to what she is saying, don’t make a noise. Keep quiet or walk out. [Interjections.] Continue.
Ms L E YENGENI: Chairperson, I will not be provoked or intimidated by these DA puppets. We may have our own ... [Interjections.]
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, on a point of order: Is it parliamentary for the speaker to call us “puppets”? Are you going to allow that?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Is that what she said?
Mr M WATERS: Yes. Yes.
Ms L E YENGENI: That’s fine. That’s fine.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): How can I hear when you make such a lot of noise, hon Mubu. How can I hear anything? Hon member, did you call the DA members “puppets”? [Interjections.]
Ms L E YENGENI: [Inaudible.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Please withdraw that. Please withdraw the words, “DA puppets”.
Ms L E YENGENI: Ndiyafuna Sihlalo [I want to, Chair.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Ngiyabonga. Qhubeka.
Ms L E YENGENI: We may have our own internal challenges, as any other mass organisation does, but the ANC of Nelson Mandela, Chief Albert Luthuli and Charlotte Maxeke continues to live and to lead. The struggle continues! The victory is certain! I thank you. [Applause.] [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order! Order, hon members! There shall be order in this House. [Interjections.] The decorum of this House shall be upheld.
Mr I M OLLIS
Ms L E YENGENI
Mr I M OLLIS: I am sure the whole of South Africa has seen this afternoon what we have to put up with in the Labour committee. I could equally ask where the hon Van Schalkwyk is – I mean Marthinus van Schalkwyk. Where is the hon Trevor Manuel? Where is the former Whip of the ANC, Mr Tony Yengeni? These skeletons are going to come out of the closet too, aren’t they?
Let me get to my speech. Chairperson, Ministers and colleagues, I welcome to Mr Lamati, the new Director-General of Labour.
R2,3 billion – that’s what this government has budgeted to spend over the next three years on investigating the introduction of a national minimum wage and determining its impact on the wage structure in South Africa. Let me say it again – R2,3 billion! It is on p 509 of the Estimates of National Expenditure. That’s your money South Africa – R2,3 billion on investigation and monitoring. And may I say to the Minister through you, Chairperson – that’s happening on your watch. The amount involved is just less than the entire Labour budget.
Not only that, but a further R90 million is being transferred to the National Economic Development and Labour Council, for more studies, and approximately R7,3 million is being wasted by the ANC in this Parliament on paying for public hearings and lovely sweet and sour chicken lunches for all the ward committee members who attend them.
A further undisclosed sum is being spent taking parliamentary labour committee members to four continents, including places such as Brazil, Britain, China and some other places, to study their approach to a national minimum wage. That brings the total cost that this ANC election fodder is using to 2,4 billion South African rands. That’s enough money to fund 100 000 students at university.
I believe this is a complete waste of money for four reasons. Number one is that the government has no minimum wage policy. There are no Green paper, no White paper and no Nedlac position. There is nothing. Minister, this is just a shot in the dark.
Number two is that the ANC has already decided the outcome in smoky back rooms at Luthuli House. At all public hearings so far the ANC has stood up and said to the workers, “The President says we should investigate a national minimum wage - how much money do you want?” The truth is that, of course, the ANC has decided the outcome. They are going to implement a national minimum wage at somewhere around R2 500 a month, and they don’t want any member of the public to interfere with their plan. So, why are we bothering to spend R2,4 billion investigating this, when we already know the outcome?
Number three is that this is further a waste of money because it is unnecessary to have one a one-size-fits-all minimum wage. We already have a working system of sectoral minimum wages, which could easily be extended to the remaining sectors.
But, of course, the ANC needs to pretend to offer workers something ahead of the local government elections next year. So, again, it’s just the ANC electioneering. However, this time it is costing you taxpayers R2,4 billion. How about another food parcel, Minister, or a free ticket to the stadium?
Finally, the fourth reason this is a mess is because none of the R2,4 billion is going to the workers, who are really struggling. It’s going to business class flights to China, to lunches, to dinners, to workshops for cronies, and so on.
So, we have no policy. The ANC has decided the outcome. None of the R2,4 billion is going to the workers, and we already have sectoral wages across most sectors in South Africa. That’s unacceptable.
But, of course, Minister, things are going wrong on your watch – it is not just the minimum wage. You had your legal advisor on three years of paid suspension costing the taxpayers another R3,4 million, when the Disciplinary Code and Procedures for the Public Service say that disciplinary measures should be handled within 60 days, not three years. You have a further 14 employees on suspension, costing the taxpayers R5,5 million for workers sitting at home.
Then there is the whole sorry saga of the Nedlac problem, where suddenly all this money, maybe up to R2 million, went missing. You sat on the forensic audit for a year and a half, until the DA raised it in Parliament, whereupon suddenly this whole mess was handed to the police to deal with. This, after already promoting one of the officials implicated in the report to a nice cushy job as a special adviser – at a higher salary!
On your watch, Minister, the report given to you points out that two Nedlac officials reporting to you had unlimited access to credit cards to buy themselves clothing at the Ferrari shop, tyres for their wives’ cars, flights for their spouses, expensive overseas trips, nappies for their babies, lubricant – God help us! – and braais. [Laughter.]
And why, Minister, were all those who had to participate in the Nedlac investigation forced to sign confidentiality agreements? Why did you sit on the report for over a year and do nothing? Why did no one get suspended, if they were connected to the fraud? Why was nobody charged for a crime?
Minister, are you even aware that the staff of the Department of Labour and whistle-blowers have been intimidated and threatened, told to remain silent about this report? Rumour has it that you are now going to promote one of these culprits – again!
On your watch, Minister, every time an executive director resigns from Nedlac, their computers – listen! – are mysteriously stolen on their last day in office. Every time! It’s a miracle. No investigation! To make matters worse, the cronies employed in this department just never get reined in on this Minister’s watch.
But it doesn’t end there. Let’s also remember, Minister, that on your watch labour relations have crashed to an all time low. Marikana happened on your watch, and people died. The collapse of the Congress of SA Trade Unions is happening right, now on your watch.
Due to the undemocratic nature of labour relations resulting from the Labour Relations Act in the past three weeks, we have seen several union leaders murdered, their houses burned down and mysterious “accidents” befalling them. But will you move on labour relations reform? Will you move for better representation? No! Obviously not on your watch.
On your watch a cadre in the department signed a lease at a massively inflated R100 million to a certain Oscar Phoku, who is the same Oscar Phoku who awarded a lease at three times market value on behalf of the Department of Public Works, Roads and Works in Gauteng. Just after awarding that contract, he jumped ship to go – guess where? – to the company that he had awarded the lease contract to. He just does it again and again, and taxpayers’ money gets handed to cadres.
On your watch the Eskom strike has been dragging on for six weeks, and the Minister has been completely silent.
The Minister never comes to the Labour committee.
The Minister’s answers to questions go like this. On Question 565 her answer reads: “This is a Nedlac internal matter and it is governed by the Nedlac constitution.” On section (b) of the question the answer is: “This is a Nedlac internal matter ...” You don’t answer our questions; you just waste our time.
With so much wasted money being spent by such an impotent department and Ministry, I was not surprised to read in the Business Day newspaper on 13 March this year that the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour, whom you heard earlier, said that DA MP Ian Ollis is “politically castrating the Minister”. I disagree with her. With such a flaccid performance by the Department of Labour on her watch, it’s not I who is politically castrating the ANC or the Minister. You are doing it to yourself! [Applause.]
Mr P G MOTEKA
Mr I M OLLIS
Mr P G MOTEKA: House Chairperson, the EFF rejects the 2015-16 Budget Vote on Labour.
Six days ago South Africans celebrated Workers’ Day in various events across the country. Workers’ current working and living conditions must be a reflection of progress we have made in bringing about fundamental economic transformation. They must be an indication of how apartheid employment practices have been eradicated; how the plight of workers in general has been addressed; and what plans are in place to address unemployment in this country.
However, no admission was made by ANC speakers at any of the May Day events that it is the ANC government that has refused to completely ban labour brokers and that it is the ANC that is continuing to leave workers vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation. Minister, what is of even more concern is that the government continues to recycle the same lies and to mislead the nation by giving the impression that all is well in the workplace, while workers have been telling the EFF a different story.
In February President Jacob Zuma stood up to deliver his state of the nation address, affirming that having employees on contract for more than three months was illegal. What have been the consequences of such illegal activities, where even government departments have been implicated? Minister, instead of a complete ban of labour brokers, your department is taking short cuts and introducing legislation that is causing more harm than good, and it is workers who will bear the brunt of this.
Workers have been subjected to the unending act of people’s frequently renewing their contracts for years and their sometimes being underpaid, if they are paid at all. Some companies have not complied with the labour laws. They have not been paying tax, provident funds or the Unemployment Insurance Fund. It is the state that will have to carry the cost eventually, because some workers have been on contract for decades, earning slave wages with no benefits.
Moreover, it is not fair to workers that we are still talking about investigating a national minimum wage, whereas by today we should have been discussing its implementation.
The Minister needs to account for the number of inspectors it plans to have by 2018. A total of 1 175 is a joke, and it explains why this department is unable to account for all the chaos in this country.
Last year Anglo American Platinum announced its plan to fire about 60 000 employees by 2017, and last week they laid off 474 workers. This department has turned a blind eye to this and folded its arms as mineworkers are being severely punished for demanding a fair minimum wage.
The Compensation Fund has not passed financial audits in the past five years. It has underspent in the last three years, and has had huge backlogs. Last year old men and women from the Eastern Cape resorted to sleeping outside Parliament to demand answers, but to this day they have not been helped.
The National Economic Development and Labour Council is plagued by much financial mismanagement. It has extremely high telephone bills, and has taken trips to places like Port Elizabeth and the Kruger National Park which are unaccounted for, wasting taxpayers’ money. This department is rotten with corruption and does nothing but facilitate slave labour. I thank you. [Time expired.]
Mr M A MNCWANGO
Mr P G MOTEKA
Mr M A MNCWANGO: Hon Chairperson, the IFP supports the Budget Vote. [Applause.]
However, I do want to raise the following issues. The labour laws of this country, though said to be some of the best in the world, have not actually created a functional labour sector. In fact, there have been excuses from the department on why there has not been any effective breakthrough in improving the labour sector, when it is clear that the reason confusion reigns is because the chickens have come home to roost.
In the 21 years of democracy that we talk about, trade unions have been the lapdogs of the governing political party, where in many instances they have been used as vote gatherers for election purposes. They continually claim to represent the working class, yet more is done to uphold the status quo of government policies that prop up the current labour and economic systems, instead of their truly fighting for the poor.
In recent months we have seen the consequences of this strategy, where we find labour movements disorganised and focused more on internal political struggles than on taking up factory floor issues and holding the government accountable for the working conditions of workers. The wage gap continues to widen; inequality is rampant in the workplace; and even those who are employed are finding it hard to cope with their wages, as the cost of living is continually rising and there does not seem to be even the slightest light at the end of this dark tunnel.
The national minimum wage process also reflects the lack of proper organisation and unity amongst labour unions. This is because there is no basic minimum wage amount which they have agreed upon and which they have banded together to present to the government as a unified group on behalf of the workers. Instead, we continually hear different amounts being bandied about.
However, the introduction of the minimum wage does not necessarily guarantee that inequality will be reduced. In fact, the lack of unifying voices in the labour movement will ensure that workers continue to be exploited in the workplace. Despite the continual process of consultation between the stakeholders, many businesses and even public institutions still have drastically different pay scales, and this has undermined statements by the department that it truly desires to see change, because the concerns of the rich are held in higher esteem than those of the workers.
The best job creation strategy involves the development of small, medium and micro enterprises. As much as government is said to be fully supportive of entrepreneurs, it is still difficult for many of them to begin to trade because of the levels of corruption when it comes to tenders, delayed payment for services they provide, and a lack of support for those who are outside the perimeters of the urban areas. Promises of support ... [Time expired.] I thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR
Mr M A MNCWANGO
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR: Hon Chairperson, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, leaders of our social partners, directors-general, esteemed guests - some of whom are members of my clan and led by my wife up there in the gallery - fellow South Africans and ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honour for me to stand before you once more, on the occasion of the Department of Labour’s Budget Vote. Time has flown since we presented the 2014 Budget Vote for the department in July last year, and a lot has happened in the intervening period.
President Jacob Zuma, at the beginning of the year, affirmed 2015 as the Year of the Freedom Charter, pointing out the significance of the charter as a guide to shaping our policies and legislation aimed at bettering the lives of our people.
Accordingly, we started off this year with the promulgation and implementation of four pieces of legislation. These were, in effect, amendments to the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Employment Services Act.
These are the products of protracted and often difficult negotiations involving the contrasting interests of labour, business, government and diverse political parties in Parliament. The National Economic Development and Labour Council, as always, played a sterling role in bringing about the requisite consensus for the passage of these laws.
The revamping of our labour laws is a highly significant milestone that underscores our resolve to help transform and regulate the labour market. In this regard we thank the Minister of Labour, uMaShenge, for her foresight and leadership during this difficult but important journey. [Applause.]
The political and historical narrative of repression in this country is well documented. It is against this background that the Department of Labour is irrevocably committed to the task of restoring the dignity of all workers, the organised and the unorganised alike, and the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised work force, namely our domestic workers, farm workers and security guards, among others.
In the 2014-15 financial year communities were highly appreciative of our direct engagements with them in all provinces through the ministerial domestic worker izimbizo. Sol Plaatje, the first Secretary-General of the mighty ANC, describing the lives of South African black miners as far back as 1914, once said, and I quote:
Two hundred thousand subterranean heroes who, by day and by night, for a mere pittance lay down their lives to the familiar 'fall of rock' and who, at deep levels, ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 feet in the bowels of the earth, sacrifice their lungs to the rock dust which develops miners’ phthisis and pneumonia.
Notably, in 1941 the wage gap between the white worker and the black worker was at a ratio of 12:1, with white mine workers in today’s currency earning R848 per annum whilst black workers were earning R70 per annum.
Thus began the excessive exploitation of one by the other that has seen generations of former mineworkers returning to their villages with not a penny to their name, but only sickness and helplessness.
It is pleasing to remind this august House that government recently opened a facility at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, where former mineworkers who have contracted the aforesaid diseases can obtain decent and meaningful medical treatment, albeit on a small scale. This, of course, was established by the Department of Health.
The Department of Labour is to complement this noble initiative and take it a step further. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act will soon be amended to create space for more comprehensive habilitation, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes. It is important to record that some of the occupational injuries and diseases condemn our fellow citizens to being mere shadows of themselves. Therefore, restoration of dignity is paramount in this regard.
In the last Budget Vote speech we indicated our intention to strengthen the Inspections and Enforcement Services in order to improve our enforcement capabilities. Whilst exploring different options to increase the capacity of the inspectorate, new challenges emerged, the biggest constraint being the current tight fiscal environment. This makes it rather difficult to acquire enough essential tools of the trade.
However, our resolve to make significant advances in this area has been revitalised by the commitment of National Treasury to return the allocation for the inspectorate capacity in the 2016-17 financial year, a commitment we have received with relief and gratitude.
We also informed this House that we initiated the investigation into the collapse of the Tongaat Mall. The investigation took some time to be finalised due to the complexities of the issues involved. It is pleasing to report, however, that the investigation has since been completed. The Minister will in due course communicate the findings and recommendations of the report.
We are pleased that the recently enacted Employment Services Act gives us the latitude to respond to and influence labour market interventions and programmes much more effectively. Accordingly we have established the link between our public employment services workstream and the 18 strategic national infrastructure projects which were announced by the President in the 2014 state of the nation address. We fully recognise the ability of these projects to stimulate economic growth, whilst creating much needed employment opportunities.
During the past year more than 618 000 workseekers were registered on the database of the department, and more than 246 000 of them were provided with employment counselling and advice by our career counsellors. Chair, 18 provincial and 519 local advocacy campaigns were conducted to educate workseekers and employers regarding the various services offered by the department. Lastly, 14 567 people were placed in employment during this period.
Some of our guests in the gallery are people who have benefited directly from our public employment services initiatives.
The department also supports organisations of persons with disabilities, purely to improve their employability prospects. To this end, during 2014 a total of R7 792 000 was transferred to workshops for the blind, whilst more than R10 million in subsidies was provided to organisations that promote employment of persons with disabilities. In addition, more than R150 million was allocated to Supported Employment Enterprises to accelerate employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
During 2014 services were also taken closer to the people through the launch of the first self-help service station kiosk in the country, in Richards Bay. This facility allows workseekers to register themselves on our database and makes it easier to access available work opportunities.
Through the Employment Services Act the department registered more than 363 private employment agencies, what are called “labour brokers”. This gives us the leverage to regulate the work of these agencies and to monitor their compliance with relevant labour laws. More importantly, it ensures that workers employed through private employment agencies are no longer vulnerable, as they are entitled to all the rights that other workers enjoy.
The department will work closely with other departments in general in its efforts to enhance the employability of our people. In particular, collaboration with the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Small Business Development will provide the added impetus in this regard.
Of all the entities associated with our department, Productivity South Africa is the most underrated entity, yet the work they do contributes immensely in promoting social and economic growth in our society. Productivity SA programmes are anchored in production improvement processes, job retention and the creation of the necessary enabling environment for employment creation. This will change henceforth, as we seek to locate the work of Productivity SA at the centre of what we do, as it is indeed an important lever in our active labour market interventions.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration remains one of our flagship labour market institutions and is considered an international benchmark. Success stories of the CCMA are too many to cram into the remaining minutes. However, it is important to point out that the success of our labour market regulatory efforts depend on the optimal functioning of this institution.
The National Economic Development and Labour Council continues to provide a platform for social dialogue. It is currently hosting dialogue on the prevailing industrial relations environment, which is at times characterised by protracted and violent strikes, as well as the modalities on the introduction of the national minimum wage.
In pursuit of our quest to build a better continent and a better world, we are active participants in various international fora dealing with labour administration. These include attending the Governing Body session of the International Labour Organisation, which sets the agenda for the International Labour Conference; visiting and engaging with the People’s Republic of China to share experiences and strengthen bilateral relations; and interacting with representatives from the German government to discuss issues of common interest. These visits have broadened our outlook on social security matters, as well as the employment relations regimen, respectively.
Recently we participated in the African Regional Labour Administration Centre, Arlac, hosted by Zimbabwe, the general objectives of which include the provision of training for officials at all levels of labour administration systems, advisory services and research.
Last month the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, and I led our respective delegations to the first session of the Specialised Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This was a result of the African Union’s introducing a new committee that combines matters of social protection and social security under one roof.
Our participation in these fora has resulted in a request by the ILO that we share experience and expertise with countries on the African Continent on how to set up legislative instruments to promote the implementation of the ILO conventions.
To take this point further, South Africa has been asked to lead Africa in discussions on Convention 87 where there is contestation globally on the collective bargaining principle as it relates to the right to strike. There is a school of thought that says that the right to strike is not entrenched in the ILO Convention, whilst there is on the contrary another school of thought, which includes us, that asserts that the right to strike is automatically an entrenched human right.
On 24 April 2015 the Minister launched the ILO study titled the Africa multicountry study on “Effective Responses to HIV and AIDS at Work”. The study was commissioned at the request of South Africa, and is the first of its kind in the world, with pragmatic lessons for our continent.
I have also taken the opportunity to visit the Department of Labour facilities across the length and breadth of the land. My observations are that, whilst some of these facilities function optimally, quite a sizeable number of them require infrastructure improvements and the provision of adequate tools of the trade. The need for such improvements is urgent, as the condition of some of the buildings fails to meet the required standards.
A report on all the provincial visits will be handed over to the Minister, with a view to mainstreaming the findings in the service delivery improvement plans of the department. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Adv A D ALBERTS
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR
Adv A D ALBERTS: Chairperson and Minister, as the United Kingdom is electing a new government today, I’m reminded of Margaret Thatcher’s brilliant election slogan in 1979: “Labour isn’t working.” Today, in South Africa, I can state that our people are not working due to the ANC’s policies, which do not create jobs. And then in the future the proposed minimum wage will destroy the few jobs we still have.
Minister, die noemenswaardigheid en sukses van die departement moet gemeet word aan die grondwetlikheid van die metodes om die oogmerke van die beleids-mandaat te realiseer. Daar bestaan egter probleme ten aansien van hierdie metodes.
Firstly, there are many problems with the management of the Compensation Fund. I am aware of claims lodged more than ten years ago that have still not been finalised.
Tweedens, is daar groot probleme met die bestuur van werkloosheids-versekeringseise. Die departement het byvoorbeeld nie werkgewers behoorlik gewaarsku dat ’n nuwe stelsel gebruik moet word nie en meeste werkgewers blyk steeds nie geregistreer te wees nie. Dit is die uFiling stelsel self. Daar blyk ook te min personeel te wees om die stelsel te bestuur. De gevolg daarvan is dat werklose mense uiteindelik moed opgee en hul eise laat vaar.
Derdens, it dit uiters kommerwekkend om te verneem dat die nuutste Grant Thornton International Business Report aantoon dat ’n skrikwekkende 81% van besighede in die land die afgelope kwartaal deur gebrekkige elektrisiteits-en water voorsiening geraak is. Daarom is die oponthoud van die voltooing van die Medupi kragsentrale weens arbeidsonrus baie onrusbarend. Ons wil ’n dringende versoek aan die Minister rig om in die situasie in te gryp. Die Wet op Arbeidsverhoudinge behoort eintlik gewysig te word sodat werknemers wat by die bou van strategiese infrastruktuur betrokke is nie onder die betrokke wet val nie.
Fourthly, I wish to again urge the Minister to review the existing Employment Equity Act in relation to the constitutional right to equality. Employment equity is a derogation of the right to equality and is therefore only allowed as a narrow exception to the rule of equality. As it is applied in practice, it has ironically become a rule in itself.
People are employed today purely on the basis that they are black without taking into consideration the available pool of skilled workers. This is in contravention of the Constitution, and factually undermines the country with appointments that lead to poor service delivery.
The Minister must explain to us what is going to happen to the country with regard to Eskom’s already bare base of skilled personnel, when Eskom lays off more than 1 000 skilled workers purely on the basis of the colour of their skin. What is more important in the end? The future of the country as a whole? Or the devilish details of demographic representivity?
Lastly, I wish to make the Minister aware of a discussion the Minister of Public Service and Administration, the late hon Collins Chabane, and I had, together with a representative of the Khoisan community. We discussed the fact that blacks are now overrepresented in the Public Service and that this needs to be rectified with new coloured and white appointments.
The decision was made by the Minister, Collins Chabane, to have a follow-up discussion with you included, Minister, but sadly Minister Chabane tragically passed away only two weeks later. We would still like to discuss this matter with you to ensure that equality becomes a substantive principle that ensures opportunities for everyone in South Africa. Thank you.
Mr W M MADISHA
Adv A D ALBERTS
Mr W M MADISHA: Chairperson and everyone, the department says that the purpose of this Vote is to get funding from Parliament to play a significant role in reducing unemployment, poverty and inequality. It promises to use the funding to pursue the objectives of full and productive employment and decent work for all.
How will it create full and productive employment and decent work for all? Let us put these promises to the test. What significant role has it played thus far in creating full and productive employment and decent work for all? Cope is putting the focus on “significant role”.
Mining, manufacturing and agriculture were historically the main creators of jobs in our country. Mining and manufacturing have been shedding jobs at an alarming rate.
The biggest creator of jobs has been government itself. How did it achieve this? The government borrowed massively, and the national debt increased from 28% of GDP in 2009 to 46% now. Therefore, it is not surprising that the consolidated national and provincial wage bill is over 40% of gross total revenue. The chickens are coming home to roost. This administration, with the support of ANC MPs, has created an impending crisis of enormous magnitude.
The overall unemployment rate is in actual fact, I must say, beyond 40%. Over 67% of young professionals in our country are unemployed.
This administration should have used the massive amounts of money it borrowed to invest in infrastructure development. Instead, it consumed the money. That leaves us with a massive debt and massive unemployment. Both are the enemies of our people.
Only agriculture, construction and trade have generated jobs, and hundreds of thousands of those who do work do not receive salaries, but tips in restaurants, etc.
The serial failure of government to create jobs is creating volcanic ferment in the townships. It is that which caused the vicious outbreak of xenophobia. If anything, these attacks will further hamper economic development and depress job creation even more.
Minister, your department and this administration have failed the jobless people of our country dismally. The skills deficit remains unaddressed. The labour laws are inhibiting investment because there is a lack of balance. Inflation is rising, the cost of living is escalating and the tempers of the people are fraying.
We need the creation of real jobs, not fancy words on paper. If you don’t know how to do that, stand aside. We are seriously disappointed with the inertia and listlessness in government.
We are deeply saddened that over five million South Africans who have no jobs must face the prospect of being jobless for another year, and beyond that. Jobless people will still be jobless in the coming years. What a shame. What an indictment on this government. [Time expired.] What a heap of broken promises by the President of this country. [Interjections.] He will get married anyway. Thank you very much.
Ms T M A TONGWANE
Mr W M MADISHA
Ms T M A TONGWANE: Chairperson, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members, honoured guests, viewers and stakeholders, allow me to start by saying that the ANC supports this Budget Vote. [Applause.]
In his state of the nation address this year, His Excellency President J G Zuma announced that Statistics SA had reported that there were 15,3 million employed people in South Africa. He said that the number of jobs had grown by 203 000 in the last quarter of 2014.
There is reasonable consensus across South African society in regard to the assertion by the New Growth Path that creating more and better jobs must lie at the heart of any strategy to fight poverty, reduce inequalities and address rural development. Commensurate with the NGP shifting the trajectory of economic development, the National Development Plan aims to eradicate poverty, increase employment and reduce inequality by 2030.
The NDP provides the framework for achieving the radical socioeconomic agenda set out in the ANC manifesto. The NDP recognises the need for a capable and developmental state, a thriving business sector, and a strong civil society with shared and complementary responsibilities.
The New Growth Path further obligates the government to strengthen compliance with health and safety regulations for working conditions.
The NGP enjoins the department to come up with ways to limit abuse of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration by senior managers and professionals who have access to other dispute-settlement systems but tie up the process with procedural points.
In general, the NGP also enjoins the department to facilitate the improvement of cost-effective services to workers and employers.
The Medium-Term Strategic Framework commits the department to working with organised business and labour to stabilise the labour market by addressing the root causes of workplace conflict in mining and elsewhere, through improving the working and living conditions of workers and improving workplace relationships. This, according to the MTSF, must include more rapid transformation of the workplace in order to eliminate abusive work practices; enhancing career mobility and training; providing for pay progression; and improving communication in the workplace.
Established in terms of section 112 of the Labour Relations Act, the CCMA plays a central role in the statutory dispute resolution process. Almost all disputes not handled by private procedures or accredited bargaining councils or agencies must be referred to the CCMA for conciliation before they can be referred for arbitration or adjudication.
However, disputes brought before the CCMA must arise within an employment relationship. Without an identified employer, there is no employment relationship within the meaning of the Labour Relations Act.
However, notwithstanding its independence and therefore governance by the governing body, the CCMA is state-funded. In this regard, in terms of the Public Finance Management Act the governing body is the accounting authority.
In the main the mandatory functions of the CCMA entail conciliating and/or arbitrating workplace disputes, and considering applications for accreditation and subsidy from bargaining councils and private agencies.
The CCMA is intended to facilitate the resolution of disputes in an affordable and expeditious manner. However, as noted by the New
Growth Path, the CCMA process is vulnerable to abuse by those who have access to other dispute resolution systems and who seek to employ delaying tactics by using procedural points.
There should also be vigilance to ensure that CCMA commissioners do not advise parties on matters of substance, and that they at all material times refrain from placing parties under undue pressure to settle.
Therefore, we call upon the department to come up with measures, as the NGP suggests, for protecting the CCMA from undue abuse by certain parties, and also to balance that by ensuring that parties are themselves not unduly led to settlements by CCMA commissioners.
One of the qualities of our society is that it is a caring society that does not regard employees as dispensable forces of production, as the apartheid government did. Many who worked in mines and other dangerous workplaces during the years of apartheid colonialism suffered injuries but, instead of receiving compensation for their injuries, they were returned to the labour reserve homelands to die indigent, as they were no longer useful to the apartheid government and big business. The ANC government is a caring government and shall never allow employees to be exploited and tossed aside when they suffer injuries.
The Compensation Fund administers the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. The main objective of the Act is to provide compensation for disablement caused by occupational injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees, or for death resulting from such injuries or diseases. This statute ensures that employees, or their dependants, who have suffered injury, illness or death arising from the performance of a duty are compensated from a fund especially created for that purpose. The compensation is payable only if the injury, illness or death occurred within the scope of the employee’s employment and was not predictable.
It is therefore encouraging that the Estimates of National Expenditure are informed, amongst others, by ensuring that the Compensation Fund continues to focus on providing an efficient and effective social safety net aimed at protecting vulnerable workers, and also at strengthening social protection and the capacity of the fund.
Labour peace and fair labour practices are crucial to building a developmental state in the second radical phase of transition to a national democratic society. The ANC government cares ... [Time expired.]
The ANC supports the Vote. [Applause.]
r L R MBINDA
Ms T M A TONGWANE
Mr L R MBINDA: Hon Chair, hon members and hon Minister, the PAC of Azania supports the budget, although we are concerned that the revolutionary legislative posture taken in the First Parliament has been lost. Subsequent Ministers and their Ministries have moved from being on the side of the worker to being neutral, and they are now stand firmly on the side of the bosses. The discourse is the safety of the investor at the expense of the workers in the name of job creation. We would like this situation to be observed.
Firstly, looking at the inspection and enforcement services, the inspectors provide a critical service, but they are not accessible enough in the workplace. The issues of health and safety have a great impact on the quality of life of workers outside the workplace. It is not merely a productivity issue.
Secondly, the number of inspectors needs to be increased to combat problems, and have a special focus on the rallying point for Afrophobia, which is the employment of people without work permits. Furthermore, they should protect workers from all over the continent.
Thirdly, the training and accreditation of shop stewards and managers as inspectors must be legislated to ensure compliance in the workplace. I think this would be the same as is happening in health and safety. This may minimise the costs of employing more inspectors.
With regard to public employment services, the PAC looks forward to the Department of Labour’s acceding to the popular call for a total ban on labour brokers and its formulating a Bill for this Parliament. The regulation of labour brokers is not enough. Labour broker practice in South Africa, more especially in the middle and lower categories, amounts to human trade and modern slavery. Therefore, it must be abolished, not modernised.
On labour policy and industrial relations, the vibrancy of the social dialogue among government, labour and business seems not to translate to the shop floor. It actually lacks an implementation mechanism and flies high over the heads of South Africa’s ordinary workers.
Unfortunately, the state apparatus is always against the workers. Moreover, it is disappointing to hear pronouncements around a desire to reduce the right of workers to strike.
We do not want to be reminded about the labour unrest which took place in the late 1970s and 1980s. However, lest we forget, the workers in this country played a vital role in utilising all fronts in advancing the cause of the liberation struggle. Thank you. [Time expired.]
Mr M BAGRAIM
Mr L R MBINDA
Mr M BAGRAIM: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister and hon members, we see in today’s Business Report, “Business confidence plunges”. The index declined from 39% to 9%. This negative outlook does not take into account the forthcoming strikes that we are about to experience in this country.
We once again see an inward-looking budget for the Department of Labour. Everyone understands that the core reason for the existence of the Labour Department is to try to ensure that true, sustainable and legal jobs are created in this country. The department must ensure that there is an enabling environment for this.
In the state of the nation address on 10 February 2011, President Zuma said:
We cannot create ... jobs alone. ... Experience shows that we succeed when we work together. ... While looking to the private sector in particular to help us create most of the jobs, government will certainly play its part.
Unfortunately, the reality is that government has not played its part. The department has not created an environment for job creation. The ruling party has done everything in its power to do just the opposite. The plethora of labour laws and the recent amendments have only acted as a handbrake to job creation. We are living in an industrial relations nightmare!
We are today sitting on the cusp of a public sector wage strike and the only real job creation we have seen in the last few years is governmental jobs which are not sustainable. The government wage bill for last year was R400 billion and that is projected to rise to R440 billion this year.
We have come from a history over the past two years of massive strikes which have affected our economy so badly that we are still struggling to recover. We are today facing an enormous unprotected strike at Medupi, thereby causing further delays in construction and affecting Eskom’s ability to recover.
When we are looking at the various departmental requests for further budget, it feels very much like we are “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”. Even when investigating the minutiae of the budget in the various departments, it becomes clear that no one in the ruling party is able to see the bigger picture.
We create more and more labour laws, stifling business, and small business in particular. Despite the creation of these laws, we are unable to monitor and enforce the laws. The government cannot see its way clear to allotting the necessary funds for more inspectors and proper training. However, shockingly, over R2,3 billion has been earmarked to investigate the implementation of a minimum wage. This, when we cannot afford to properly finance the inspectorate of the Department of Labour!
The government has not in any way understood that the life of the world of small business is quite different from the life of the big commercial and industrial enterprises in this country. It is recognised that small business creates almost 70% of all jobs in South Africa, and yet none of our laws and structures recognise this. Our labour legislation is unfortunately the same for big and small business.
A society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. A specific department is entrusted to pay employees who are injured on duty. Their core function is to ensure that these workers are properly and timeously reimbursed. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Year after year the Auditor-General fails this department, and year after year new and expensive computer programmes are purchased, but the service delivery has been almost nil. The Compensation Commissioner should hang his head in shame!
The one department that is working is the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. Annually, however, they are denied the ability to be properly resourced. Despite this they manage to enhance labour peace to a large degree, although nowhere near perfection. The CCMA ought to be applauded.
Numerous complaints are received by the DA with regard to service delivery in the Department of Labour. It is clear that under the National Development Plan we need to increase employment to 24 million jobs in 2030. With a budget debate such as this, and a proposal such as this, we will never reach 24 million jobs in 2030. We have over 50% of our youth who are seeking jobs unable to find jobs. Our government has done nothing except create legislation, regulations and an environment which stands in the way.
The DA, however, has shown that despite the negativity of the national labour laws, they are able to enhance job creation in the Western Cape province.
The government has created an industrial relations nightmare, thus denying any possibility of the labour market’s growing. The Labour Department was supposed to focus on workseekers and decent work principals, but it is bogged down in inefficiency and inability. If anything, the Labour Department has stood in the way of economic growth by ensuring that small businesses cannot expand their workforce because of the unhealthy climate and overregulated environment. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms F S LOLIWE
Mr M BAGRAIM
Nks F S LOLIWE: Sihlalo obekekileyo, ndivumele ndinganicaluli ngokwezihlalo zenu, koko ndithi ngqanga neentsiba zayo. Siyi-ANC siphakama sisithi siyavumelana noMphathiswa xa ebedakanca olu hlahlo-lwabiwo-mali. Siyayixhasa iVoti yoHlahlo-lwabiwo-mali yama-28. Sitsho kuba silubonile utshintsho thina kwiSebe lezaBasebenzi.
As the ANC, we are impressed by the manner in which the Unemployment Insurance Fund is being administered. The fund plays a pivotal role in poverty alleviation through one of its programmes. It is on that basis that we put the following recommendations, despite the progress in the UIF. The department should take into consideration the financial sustainability of the UIF with regard to the Minister of Finance’s proposal on how this needs to be funded.
We are also saying we have vulnerable workers, domestic workers in particular, who need to be brought under the umbrella of the UIF. This is because, as things stand now, they are one of the worker groups that are being undermined.
Yes, this entity has done well because it has generated a surplus and is receiving investment revenue, making it more sustainable.
What are we saying about Nedlac? We see the challenges that are facing Nedlac. We understand the mandate of Nedlac. However, for all that, what we as the ANC are saying is that we are concerned about the expenditure patterns far as telephone allowances for senior managers, the use of consultants, and goods and services are concerned. There have to be stricter control measures in those areas.
We as the ANC are also concerned that the plan to address the shortage of skills, including the importation thereof, has not been up to the expectation of the ANC.
What are we saying to those who spoke before the ANC? Hon Ollis, we want to remind you that in the committee we raised the concern about the R2,4 billion spent on investigation. We then directed the committee, as well as the officials, to go and investigate whether there was a mistake in this one. They have not been afforded an opportunity to come back to clarify whether it was supposed to be R2,4 million or R2,4 billion. So, we must not come and grandstand here on an issue we have addressed in the committee. [Applause.]
Another issue is that there is an allegation that the Minister never comes to the portfolio committee meetings. We understand hon Ollis has said that we must direct the Minister to come to the committee meetings. [Interjections.] He has been given reasons why the Minister was unable to attend committee meetings and we have a plan regarding when the Minister is going to be with our committee. So, that one we as a committee are attending to.
Hon Moteka, how I wish there were Budget Vote debates every day, so that we would see you all the time. You were never part of us when we were busy with preparations for this Budget Vote. Unfortunately you did not even understand the processes to be followed in the committee in order to state the stance of your own organisation. Hence you only voiced your views when the meeting was closed. So, it is just a pity that you are unable to sit in the committee and understand, so that you can contextualise issues when you come and debate here. [Applause.] We are appealing to your organisation to release you more often, so that you can understand the committee you serve in.
Hon Moteka, do you really understand the processes unfolding in the committee you serve? You attended the last public hearing on the national minimum wage in Mpumalanga on 25 April. You can’t expect implementation on 7 May. We still have to consolidate the report. There are other stakeholders whom we have to invite, so you must understand the processes. I’m just giving you an understanding of the processes so that you don’t get confused. [Applause.]
Hon Mncwango, we want to extend an invitation to you, as we will be consolidating our report on what we discovered as we were holding public hearings on the issue of the national minimum wage, so that we bridge the information gap you might have. We understand that you are an alternate on the committee. Those who attend on your behalf might not be briefing you. [Interjections.]
Hon Alberts of the FF Plus, ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr B L Mashile): Hon Loliwe, just hold on a second. Is that a point of order? [Interjections.] Okay. Hon Moteka. [Interjections.] No, just switch off. Switch off your microphone. Switch off. Yes, give him the opportunity.
Mr P G MOTEKA: The hon member must stop misleading the House. I’ve never been to Mpumalanga with them. [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr B L Mashile): Hon Moteka.
Mr P G MOTEKA: I was not there. So, she is misleading the House.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr B L Mashile): Hon Moteka. [Interjections.]
Mr P G MOTEKA: She is misleading the nation.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr B L Mashile): Hon Moteka, sit down. That is not a point of order. [Interjections.]
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Chairperson.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr B L Mashile): Yes?
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Hon Mr Mncwango unfortunately is not here, but I would like to accept the invitation from the speaker. Can I arrange dinner for the two to come and share the information? [Laughter.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr B L Mashile): Thank you very much. Sit down. Can you continue, hon Loliwe?
Ms F S LOLIWE: Hon Moteka, thank you for confirming that you are not attending committee programmes. [Laughter.]
Hon Alberts of the FF Plus, you are alleging that the national minimum wage will destroy our future. Why are you a prophet of doom, as this is work in progress?
Hon Madisha, you are complaining that the wage bill is too high. Are you suggesting retrenchments? You are saying youth unemployment is very high and at the same time you are concerned about the wage bill. Can’t you go back to Cosatu so that your tools of analysis can be revitalised? [Applause.]
You are also alleging that there is a skills deficit which remains unaddressed. What do you think the role of the Setas is, hon Madisha? It is their responsibility to skill our people. However, we are going to assist you, as we know that when you have changed homes, you tend to forget what other institutions are for. [Interjections.]
Then you are also saying that the Minister should step down. I’m challenging you, hon Madisha. Let’s put that one to the vote and see what happens, because there are three of you and I think we are 249. [Laughter.] So, we’ll talk about that one. [Applause.] Perhaps you have forgotten the fights on behalf of workers that you led as a president in Cosatu. Hence you sleep, you wake up and you say, “Dismiss.” This is not a banana republic. There are laws to be followed. Relax.
Siyaqhuba siyi-ANC. [Kwaqhwatywa.]
Hon Mbinda, let me say that I understand you, my hon member. You still have a lot to learn. You’ve just joined Parliament, so you don’t understand some of these processes. My only hope is that as you have just left Mayibuye, there were processes in place for health and safety there, because it is a transport corporation. I hope you left those bus drivers and mechanics with systems in place, so that you can stand here and say, “When I was in Mayibuye, this is what I was doing.”
Hon Bagraim, you are saying the ruling party creates a lot of laws which, unfortunately according to us, are flouted by employers. The ruling party is not made up of employers. Check amongst yourselves. Do you not have employers who are flouting these laws so as to downplay the laws that are promulgated by the ruling party? [Interjections.]
In the committee we agreed that we can’t say the department has a sole mandate of creating jobs. There are other mechanisms. Hence, in our draft report, which was sponsored by your party, we said we should delete the clause which says the department must create jobs because that is not its sole mandate. Whether we are brown, pink, navy or whatever colour, let us not change colours. When we are in the committee and when we are in front of South Africans let us utilise the same language.
You know, I always feel there is honour in respecting those who came before us and I usually take advice from the wise words of those who were here before us. At some stage Tata Mandela said the following, and I subscribe to what he said:
I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.
Singurhulumente we-ANC amalungelo abasebenzi siwaxabise ngaphezulu kwento yonke. Siwahloniphile kuba isizwe esingaxabisanga abasebenzi asiyi ndawo kuba abasebenzi badlala indima enkulu ukuphucula uqoqosho lwesizwe. Nibantu bani na nina nithi sitshona nje kungenxa yokuba ityala likarhulumente lokuhlawula imivuzo likhulu kakhulu. Ukuba bekunokuze kwenzeka ilishwa esingalaziyo ukuba livela phi na niphathe, xa nikhalazela i-wage bill ningasala nabasebenzi abangaphi. Thina sazi ukuba le mbinana ikhoyo igobe imiqolo ngumsebenzi omninzi kuba abonelanga.
That’s why in the Labour committee we are saying we want more inspectors. [Time expired.]
Siyabulela. Iyaqhuba i-ANC. [Kwaqhwatywa.]
The MINISTER OF LABOUR
Ms F S LOLIWE
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Thank you, hon Chairperson. Firstly, ...
... ngithanda ukubonga amalungu kaKhongolose kanye nelungu leNkatha kanye nele-PAC abasekele iSabelomali soMnyango weZabasebenzi ukuze sikwazi ukuqhubekela phambili. [Ihlombe.] Kepha ngiyafisa ukusho ukuthi siyayiqonda indlela kamhlonishwa uMncwango, kungenzeka ukuthi usesebunzimeni ngoba uKhongolose uwine amawadi ayi-12 kwayi-19 eMtubatuba. [Ihlombe.]
I also want to say this to the members of the ANC. Of course we will always welcome constructive criticism, because that is when we learn and move forward.
Kumhlonishwa u-Ollis, uyabona mhlonishwa, ngethule la isibalo ...
... of R2,7 billion as the budget allocated to us by Treasury. Now you are saying we are going to take R2,3 billion for the national minimum wage investigation. [Interjections.] It is clear that you are confused – you don’t understand figures and you don’t differentiate between billions and millions.
Ngakho-ke, kuzodingeka ukuthi uzame ubuyele esikoleni kancane. [Uhleko.]
However, at the same time, on the issue of the White Paper on the national minimum wage, I don’t think you understand how the White Paper comes into this matter. We already have the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. If we want to implement the national minimum wage, we will amend that legislation because it already says that we are able to make a sectoral minimum wage.
Pho yini okumele siyichibiyele lapho? Umqondo awuthi ukuhluzeka kancane. Okunye, ukhulume nge-Marikana kanye nangokuwa kwe-Cosatu, mhlawumbe inkinga yakho ukuthi ...
... you don’t understand the difference between the role of the Minister and the role of the trade union and the employers, because the Marikana issue was created by the employers. Particularly because they are perhaps your friends and your colleagues, you must just discuss those issues with them ...
... ukuthi bakhokhele abasebenzi umholo abangaphila ngawo ...
... not what they are doing.
When it comes to the issue of banning labour brokers, I think the hon member of the EFF ...
... kanye nomhlonishwa we-PAC obekhuluma ngokuhluswa kwezakhamizi ezivela emazweni emithethweni yethu.
I just appeal to members that before you speak publicly, you just read all the legislation that we have, and look at the implications. Of course, you won’t understand, because you don’t come from the ANC. I don’t know. [Applause.] Nevertheless, the ANC has the strategy and tactics. We strategise and say technically how we can deal with that.
If you look at labour relations, particularly the basic conditions, when it comes to the employment of the workers it is clear that there is no worker who will be employed outside of the labour relations of this country. From the first day the workers are immediately protected.
On the issue of the workers that are employed through the labour brokers, they also fall into the same category. So the issue of the three months contract is, in fact, irrelevant. We have said we are going to prohibit the abuse of the labour brokers. So we have dealt with those issues. You must read the legislation so that you can understand properly. [Applause.]
Sihlalo, ngoba isikhathi sami sincane, ngiyafisa nje ukusho ...
... to hon Mr Madisha and hon Mr Bagraim, on your contribution in regard to the creation of employment, I have said that we have set aside R10 billion from the Unemployment Insurance Fund for socially responsible investment. If you look at our investment, and where we have invested, you will see we have created many jobs. So if we can be given an opportunity – but ...
... inselela ukuthi kubonakala sengathi noma amalungu etshelwa kungenzeka ukuthi anenkinga njengoba siwalalelisisa.
Maybe what I can do is to present them with ear buds so that ...
... kuzovuleka izindlebe. Ngakho-ke ngiyacela mhlonishwa ukuthi amaLungu ePhalamende, ikakhulukazi lawo e-DA ...
... they must understand that when we make legislation, business people are part and parcel of the drafting of any legislation in this country. I don’t know which business are you talking on behalf of. Nonetheless, ...
... kodwa-ke, ngiyabonga Sihlalo, futhi ngiyafisa ukusho ukuthi ...
... as the ANC, we will continue to protect the vulnerable workers of this country. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 16:09.
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