ATC150813: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Labour on an unannounced visit to the Mitchells Plain and Nyanga Labour Centres, dated 12 August 2015

Labour

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Labour on an unannounced visit to the Mitchells Plain and Nyanga Labour Centres, dated 12 August 2015
 

The Portfolio Committee on Labour, having conducted an unannounced visit to the Mitchells Plain and Nyanga labour centres on 19 June 2014, reports as follows:

 

  1. Introduction

 

Parliament derives its powers from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. Section 42(3) bestows oversight of executive function to the National Assembly. Section 55(2)(b) empowers the National Assembly to provide for mechanism to maintain oversight of the exercise of national executive authority, including the implementation of legislation.

 

One of the functions of oversight listed in the Oversight and Accountability model is to ensure that policies announced by government and authorised by Parliament are actually delivered. This function includes monitoring the achievement of goals set by legislation and the government’s own programmes.

 

In compliance with the above, the Portfolio Committee on Labour resolved to undertake an unannounced visit to the Mitchells Plain labour centre and Nyanga satellite office in the Western Cape. The focal point of the visit was to monitor the performance of the labour centres of the Department of Labour (DoL). The purpose of this report is to highlight issues raised by staff, clients and observations that were made by the Committee Members during the oversight visit and to make some recommendations.

 

  1. Background

 

In July 2014, the Portfolio Committee on Labour conducted an oversight visit to the Bellville and Nyanga labour centres. The main objective of the visit was to:

 

  • Ascertain the challenges experienced by the labour centres in executing their mandate.
  • Interact with clients to determine the quality of service and treatment they receive from labour centre staff and managers.

 

The oversight visit was a follow-up to the one conducted in Nyanga in July 2014 as well as a continuation of visits to labour centres.

 

  1. Objectives of the visit

 

The objective of the visit was as follows:

 

  • To follow up on the 2014 unannounced visit so as to ascertain whether the challenges identified in the previous visits were addressed.

 

 

  1. Delegation

 

  1. Portfolio Committee on Labour

 

The delegation comprised the following Honourable Members:

Ms FS Loliwe (leader of the delegation (ANC))

Ms TMA Tongwane (ANC)

Mr M Bagraim (DA)

Mr IM Ollis (DA)

 

The following support staff accompanied the delegation:

Mr ZC Sakasa, Committee Secretary

Ms P Ntabeni, Committee Assistant

Mr S Ngcobo, Content Adviser

Ms S Mkhize, Researcher

 

  1. Oversight visit to Mitchells Plain Labour Centre

 

In the absence of both the Manager and Assistant Manager at the Mitchells Plain labour centre, the delegation was met by Mr Creighton, the Management Support Services (MSS) Clerk.

 

  1. Committee Findings

 

  • The Manager was on leave and the Assistant Manager was out on meetings.
  • Out of seven cubicles only four were attended to as two Client Service Officers (CSOs) and one pay-master were off sick. Phones rang continuously unattended.
  • There are four inspectors and one team-leader, but only three were available at the time of visit.
  • Vacant posts remain frozen by the Department of Labour.
  • At the end of the day clients who could not be attended to, are issued with numbers, but they claim they are not prioritised the following day.
  • There is a three-month waiting period for the processing of UIF applications.
  • Stacks of UI forms dating as far back as 2012, lay in rooms and not sent to archives.
  • Clients complained of not being informed in advance of the required documents for their claims to be processed.
  • Clients have to wait outside because there is not enough space in the waiting area.
  • Windows in the ablution facilities were full of dust and spider webs. They appeared to have not been cleaned and opened for a long period.
  • Some toilets did not have signage to indicate whether they are meant for males or females.
  • There was no hand soap in one of the female and of the male toilets.
  • There was no toilet paper in one of the female toilets.
  • The hot water tap was broken in one of the female toilets.
  • There was no waste bin for disposal of sanitary pads in the female toilets.
  • The service charter of the Department was not displayed for the public to see it.
  • Statutes such as the Labour Relations Act, Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Employment Equity Act were not displayed.
  • The access to the fire extinguisher was blocked by boxes full of paper.

 

 

 

  1. Challenges 

 

  • The online virtual office is not compatible with the IT system.
  • Notices are in English only although the centre also serves Afrikaans and Xhosa clients.
  • Cleaning equipment is not sufficient.
  • There are only two stamps shared by all CSOs in the centre.

 

 

  1. Committee Recommendations

 

  • The DoL should provide the Portfolio Committee with a full account of problems encountered at the labour centres.
  • The DoL should provide the Portfolio Committee with the plan to address the problems encountered at the centre.

 

  1. Oversight at the Nyanga Labour Centre

 

At the Nyanga Labour Centre, the delegation was met by Mr Stofile. Members conducted a walk-about at the Labour Centre and interacted with staff and clients. Ms Vellem, the Supervisor at Nyanga Labour Centre, was on leave.

 

  1. Committee Findings

 

  • There is no visible improvement from the previous visit despite recommendations by the Portfolio Committee.
  • The staff establishment of five employees comprising one supervisor and four staff members (Client Service Officers) has not improved.
  • There were only two staff members on duty, while two other staff members were on a tea break.
  • There are no inspectors at the centre.
  • All notices are in English although the centre serves an African community and clients complained that direct lines for complaints are not displayed.
  • The vision, mission and values statement was prominently displayed. However, the statement is only in English.
  • The Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act were prominently displayed but too high to be legible.
  • The service charter of the Department was displayed where it could be read by the clients and staff.
  • The staff of the satellite office only take clients until 12:00.
  • One of the clients was issued a “last client” ticket at 10:30.
  • Security guards turn clients away on instruction from officials.
  • One client complained that she arrived at the satellite office at 07:00 and was still not attended to at 11:00.
  • There was no toilet paper, hand soap and hand towels in the male toilets.
  • The toilet meant for clients with a disability was locked.
  • The emergency exit was chained and padlocked, constituting a hazard in case of an emergency.
  • Security guard’s room is still outside without a toilet, which poses a problem when the satellite office is closed.

 

 

  1. Challenges

 

  • The one cleaner still alternates two days at the centre and the rest at Mitchel’s Plain labour centre.
  • Ablution facilities were not sufficient as some of them are locked.
  • More staff (personnel) is required as clients complain of not being attended to speedily.

 

 

  1. Committee Recommendations

 

  • The Department of Labour’s Provincial Office, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and the Labour Centre Management should account on challenges faced by the labour centres.
  • In addition, the Department should report to the Committee on progress made to address the identified challenges.

 

 

  1. OVERALL RECOMMENDATIONS

 

The Portfolio Committee on Labour recommends that the Minister of Labour consider the following:

 

  • Ensuring that the problems at the labour centres are attended to with the urgency they deserve.
  • Ensuring that the staffing shortage at the labour centres is addressed, satellite offices and visiting points as well as providing adequate tools of trade and security.

 

The Department of Labour should report back to the Portfolio Committee on Labour on progress made with regard to the above-mentioned recommendations within three months after the report has been debated in the National Assembly.

 

 

 

Report to be considered.

 

 

 

 

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