Minister of Labour Budget Speech
24 May 2017
Minister of Labour, Ms Nelisiwe Mildred Oliphant, gave her Budget Vote Speech on the 24 May 2017.
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Senior Officials of the Department
Our Social Partners, Business, Labour and Civil Society
Our people from all corners of South Africa
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a privilege for me to stand before you this afternoon to account for the commitments we made and our contribution in moving this country forward. It is also timely that we present this budget vote during the Workers Month, as it carries both bitter and pleasant memories for our toiling masses. The evolution of our labour relations environment has evolved over many decades, and we are very pleased with the progress we have made so far.
Many people may have forgotten that barely 22 years ago, the South African statute book, was littered with labour laws that were backwards and completely out of sync, with universal human rights.
We know that it takes decades to transform the labour relations landscape in the manner that we did, particularly in a country with a history like ours. We should not under-estimate what we have achieved in just two decades since the advent of democracy. There are many countries with democracies that are much older than ours, who are still battling to come even close to where we are. Most of them, when we meet in various international platforms, keep on asking, how we did it. Credit for where we are, must truly go to the unwavering vision of the ANC, the commitment of our people, our social partners and most importantly, members of this very house.
We owe the position we occupy internationally, to the teachings of our fore bearers in the early labour movement formations. We also owe it to the vision of our people who met in Kliptown way back 1955, and crafted a Timeless Blue Print, [“Ezingasoze Zabuna”] in the form of The Freedom Charter.
We also owe our discipline and commitment to do what is right, through visionaries like the ANC President, Oliver Tambo who once said, and I quote; "It is our responsibility to break down barriers of division and create a country where there will be neither Whites nor Blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity.” Close Quote. These are the principles that inform our posture when crafting our policies.
Honourable Members; The aims and objectives of our labour laws have not deviated from, giving expression to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, The Freedom Charter of 1955, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Core Conventions, Section 23 of our Bill of Rights and most recently, the 2009 and 2014 ANC Manifestos. In many instances our labour laws mirror word for word, the text and spirit of these International Conventions.
The Bad news is that we are deeply concerned about the slow pace of transformation in the workplace. The picture in the Employment Equity Report released a few weeks ago, leaves much to be desired. We are taking steps to address this problem including seeking the promulgation of much more punitive measures against those who continue to undermine the Employment Equity imperatives.
The good news is the successful conclusion of an agreement on the modalities of introducing a national minimum wage in South Africa. Our task as the Department is to fast track the process of processing the necessary legislative instruments to give effect to this agreement. Let me thank the President of the country for having assigned us this task, and the Deputy President for his leadership in delivering this milestone achievement. I also want to extend my deepest gratitude to our social partners for their stamina in navigating what was one of the most difficult policy issues in the labour market since the dawn of democracy.
Honourable Chairperson, in continuing with the good news, let me now turn to a high level presentation of what we have done on various aspects of our mandate. Let me, boldly say that there isn’t a single ambition in the Freedom Charter, and the Country’s Constitution, that has not been fully expressed in our various pieces of labour laws. The Freedom Charter has remained the cornerstone of the ANC’s policies as it is evident in all the labour market policies and legal instruments that we have pursued since the dawn of democracy. To illustrate the point, let’s take the Freedom Charter under the theme: There shall be Work and Security:
Chapter I, Sub- Section 4 and Chapter III, sub-sections 11 to 63 of the Labour Relations Act, cover, in every detail, how this Freedom Charter demands are given expression in our labour laws.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No 75 of 1997, gives effect to these rights and in Section 23 of our Constitution, by establishing and making provision for the regulation of basic conditions of employment; and thereby meet the demands of our people as contained in the Freedom Charter and also comply with the obligations of the Republic as a member-state of the ILO.
We know that there were those in this house, who opposed every single effort to do what we have done with our labour laws, yet when the country is showered with accolades internationally, they do not say wait a minute, we did not want this, but they also gladly accept the credit. How Hippocratic can these fellows be, makes one wonder?
The ANC government has undeniably achieved what we had set out to do and beyond and we need to celebrate these achievements as they were by no means, easy victories.
It is not a small fit that: Before 1994, the influx control legislations, prevented workers from seeking employment wherever they chose unless they had work seekers’ permits. Some of you will know how difficult it was to obtain these permits, let alone the embarrassing and demeaning treatment that workers had to endure.
Through the hard work led by the ANC, our citizens can now seek employment where ever they choose.
Barely 22 years ago, farm workers, domestic workers, cleaning, security workers and workers in the hospitality sectors had no-one to turn to regarding their working conditions in their respective sectors. Through the collective efforts of the ANC Government, workers in these sectors are at the very least, guaranteed minimum wages, which are set by the Minister of Labour through Sectoral Determinations.
As you may know that today, over 4.6 million workers are dependent solely on the Ministerial Sectoral Determinations for their minimum working conditions, as they have no union to represent them. Through the tenacity of the ANC leadership, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) provides benefits that are directly informed by the Freedom Charter and the 2014 ANC Election Manifesto.
Workers who lose their income due to reduced working time will be able to claim for benefits, a provision that was only available to domestic workers, now it has been extended to cover all workers. The UIF Act makes provisions for a worker to claim illness benefits, if the days of illness are less than seven days. Maternity benefits will be paid at a fixed rate of 66% of earnings, unlike in the past, when these were paid on a sliding scale of 38 to 60%. This means that every maternity claim will be paid at a flat rate of 66% irrespective of how much a person earns. This will give workers better disposable income when they need it most.
The period for which workers will be able to draw benefits, has also been increased from 238 (which is 8 months) to 365 days (which is one YEAR).
Workers will be paid benefits regardless of whether or not; they have received benefits within the four year cycle, as long as the worker has credits. We know that there are a lot of people out there, who goes around offering to assist workers to claim Unemployment Insurance benefits on a fee.
It is worth celebrating the news that the recent Amendments to the UIF law, now prohibits any agency or a person purporting to be acting on behalf of the applicant, to charge any fee against the applicant. Honourable Members; Our principle in the Unemployment Insurance fund, is that we look for reasons to pay benefits to deserving workers, unlike the norm in some insurance funds where they look for reasons not to pay. In the last financial year alone, the UIF paid out 7.9 billion Rands to deserving workers.
On other hand, the Compensation Fund has put in place an action plan which is beginning to bear fruits. The back log in claims has been reduced to 60 000 cases, which is not for the lack of the ability to pay, but because the claims in question are incomplete as critical documents to determine liability, have either not been provided, or the information provided has discrepancies.
For example, it becomes difficult to accept liability on an invoice that says the worker was treated for injuries on the left arm whilst the report from the employer states that the worker was injured on the right hand side index finger. It is discrepancies of this nature that holds back some of the claims from being processed. The positive take out of this scenario though, is that the Fund has now built capabilities of detecting what could potentially be dubious claims.
So there are both positive and negative dimensions in the current back-log, and I urge you not to focus too much on the negative.
Whilst talking about back-log, let me clarify one issue which creates a lot of confusion among our people. South Africa has two compensation systems, one governed by the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA) which is administered by the Department of Health; and another governed by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) which is administered by the Department of labour. Most miners in South Africa are covered by ODMWA for occupational lung diseases, based on an assessment of whether a mine is 'controlled'. The Act provides compensation for Occupational Lung Diseases in miners and ex-miners only.
As I indicated, the back-log under COIDA is in the region of 60 000 cases, whilst the latest known size of back-log under ODMWA, is approximately plus-minus 500 000 cases. Let it be known that one of the main reasons why the back log in ODMWA looks so big, and tracing beneficiaries remained so difficult, is that these workers were registered with employee numbers and not with their Names and ID numbers.
Because of poor record keeping by the mine bosses at the time, trying to match employee numbers to claims, is almost impossible in many instances. The ANC government has not given up though; it continues to invest energies in finding the rightful owners of the unclaimed benefits. There are instances where some people lump these back-logs as if they were all COIDA, when that is not the case. I truly hope that with this explanation, we will all be clear on what we are talking about when making references to back-log in the compensation systems.
The proposed Amendments to COIDA, whilst they are primarily administrative in nature; the only profound amendment will be the extension of its coverage to the estimated 1 million domestic workers. Whilst it may not be obvious that domestic workers do need COIDA coverage,
Just pose and visualise a domestic worker climbing a step-ladders to clean windows, or, doubling up with gardening chores in some cases. Just think about the chemicals they use in our kitchens and bathrooms, and the potential health risks exposure therein. Based on these considerations, I am convinced that this amendment is necessary and long overdue.
Honourable Chairperson: The Department of Labour is not a by-stander in the efforts to create employment opportunities for our people and these are, but some of our efforts and contribution in this regard;
The Department has signed 30 MOUs with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVETs) Colleges. This is done to train UIF beneficiaries in order to fast track their re-entry back into the Labour market. The UIF contributes 1.8 Million Rand per TVET College, which include stipends for learners, for this initiative.
Learners are trained in various skills disciplines, with a special focus on those that carry the promise of absorbing the learners on completion of their courses. Therefore we do not train for the sake of training, but we target those skills where there is a demand in the economy, and where learners have an option of starting their own businesses if they so choose.
Eight TVET Colleges have completed training of thousands of learners, in civil engineering and construction set of skills.
Recently I attended and officiated a graduation ceremony in Hammersdale, where learners obtained their qualifications on various skills.
I also had the opportunity of visiting a house, which these workers built from scratch, using their newly acquired skills.
I also visited three other projects that the learners worked on including, the Church and the ablution facilities in the area. We also found that most of those who completed their training in plumbing were already running their own businesses in the area. I am therefore convinced that both the skills training to enhance employability and enterprise development are yielding the results we need.
100 Scuba divers have also completed their training. Forty one (41) of them have already been placed on work integrated learning opportunities within various organisations in the Diving Industry. A further 15 of them, are awaiting work integrated Learning opportunities within the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and Forty are waiting for integration within the South African Police Services (SAPS).
A group of 20 learners, who enrolled on the training programme to become pilots, have less than six months left to complete their training. The Pilot training school has secured an endorsement from SA Express, to assist these learners to accumulate flying hours that are necessary for them to be employable by commercial air-lines. I also had a chance to visit these young learners, who were bragging about their achievements.
As an aside on how confident these learners are, some went on a flight joy-ride, without permission from the school, and as a result they were expelled from the programme when they got back.
[These learners took R Kelly literally when he sang “I believe I can Fly”, indeed they could fly, Honourable Members].
I also had the opportunity to officially launch a Compensation Fund and the South African Association of Chartered Accountants, (SAICA) partnership to train learners on Medical and Actuarial skills.
The programme targets young people that would ordinarily not qualify for NSFAS nor secure loans from the financial institutions. These are often referred to as the missing middle. The first intake of 100 learners, have commenced their studies in different skills disciplines as follows;
• 20 Medical doctors
• 20 Nurses
• 35 Occupational Therapists
• 5 Actuaries
• 20 Medical Orthotists & Prosthetics
We also intend absorbing most of these learners at the Compensation Fund as these are the skills that we need ourselves. We are making our humble contribution Honourable Members, and we can already see social and developmental dividend. We are determined to continue with these initiatives and upscale them where necessary.
DOL IS AN IMPORTANT CATALYST IN OUR ECONOMY;
Honourable Chairperson; Let me now turn to the myth that continue to do rounds in the public domain, and that is the Department of Labour and/or, the Funds, are sitting on billions of Rands which are not Invested in the economy.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund has indeed accumulated a surplus of 130 billion Rand, as at the end of February 2017, and, the Compensation Fund has accumulated 57 billion Rand in the same period; [We must congratulate the Funds for the job well done.]
But, let us set the record straight, these two funds are not sitting on this money, and it is not correct that this money is not invested in the economy. All these funds are invested with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), in its capacity as the Government Funds’ Asset Manager. There is no “BANK VAULT” at the Department of Labour, and/or the Funds where this money is kept.
Let me start with the Unemployment Insurance Fund to illustrate how these monies are invested by the PIC; These monies are spread through various investment instruments including but not limited to; Government and Parastatal bonds, listed equity, money market instruments, listed property equity and socially responsible investments. We have also invested in projects such as, the provision of student accommodation and students loans, and already 10 000 beds for student accommodation have been delivered.
I am therefore inclined to argue that the reason why we do not have load shedding is because a sizeable chunk of this money is invested in assets such as Eskom’s infrastructure development programme including big projects such as Medupi power station. On balance of probability, on each and every crane that you see at various construction sites, the Monies in the UIF and Compensation has made it possible.
The Fund’s Investment Portfolio, is dedicated to Developmental investment initiatives mainly focussed on job creation and job retention. Institutions like Productivity South Africa with a mandate to promote employment growth and productivity are part of this universe.
Whilst it is charged with the responsibilities of advocating and inspiring a productive competitive South Africa, it is also responsible for National projects such as the Turnaround Solutions. The Turn-around solutions has saved over 145 thousand jobs and created more than 600 new job opportunities since its inception. The Unemployment Insurance Fund also funds the Training Lay Off scheme, a scheme that is designed to prevent job losses in companies in distress.
The funding model for Productivity South Africa has evolved over many years. I am pleased to report that the current funding model has been revised to the satisfaction of all parties and as such, all the challenges of the past have been resolved.
Broadly speaking, the workers who are contributors to the UIF can rightfully claim that they play a meaningful role in stimulating economic activity in this country, because this is their money in the first place. We must also not forget that during the 2008 global economic crisis, close to a million workers lost their jobs and, the Unemployment Insurance Fund was the only place they could turn to for the much needed relief. The Compensation Fund on the other hand, has through the PIC, invested its surplus in various investment instruments, namely; Government and Parastatal bonds, equity, money market instruments, listed property equity and social responsible investments. A total of 37 billion Rands is invested in Government Bonds and the rest in other investment instruments.
It is worth noting that the Compensation Fund has also participated in a Public; Private; Partnership which built a state of the art health facility in Modderfontein [BUSAMED] which will cater and prioritise workers who get injured on duty.
This is in addition to the Rand Mutual Association and the Compensation Fund habilitation and rehabilitation facility in Welkom, which is fully operational as we speak. I hope that this clarifies and debunk the myth that the department and/or the funds are sitting on billions of Rands. It must also be place on record, that this money, belongs to workers and it is there as an insurance policy to meet our obligations in terms of the Unemployment Insurance Act, likewise the Compensation fund;
Honourable Chairperson; In May 2016 South Africa was nominated and elected unanimously by 187 member States of the international Labour Organisation as President of the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference. The Director General of the Department of Labour was also appointed as the Chairperson of the Credentials Committee of the entire Conference. We need to be proud of this achievement as a country, as this is indeed a vote of confidence and a confirmation that our presence and the impact we bring about on issues of international importance, is recognised. Members of this house have contributed immensely in shaping our credentials and standing as a country in these internal platforms. We thank you for that.
Honourable Chairperson: We had a bilateral session with the Minister of Labour from the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland recently. This we did in pursuit of the ILO plea that as South Africa, we must work with countries in our continent with a view to share and assist, using our experiences on how to deal with international best practice.
Whilst the bulk of the discussions evolved around adherence to ILO standards, we also discussed other of matters of mutual interests between the two countries.
The recent United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) acknowledged that South Africa was ahead of most countries in terms of equality policies and tools. It also emerged that South Africa was the only known country out of the 119 UN Member States, which has supporting and enabling legislation that promotes equality and equal pay in the labour market. We must truly be proud of this notable recognition.
China will pass on the Chair of BRICS to South Africa when it meets in September 2017. Whilst this is a privilege, it also entails a lot of work for the country. We count on your support in making these important events a success.
Honourable Chairperson; Most of our achievements on the operational front, are captured in our Annual Report and our future focus areas are captured in our Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan. Therefore I will not dwell much on the details, but high level on our key priorities going forward;
ü Improving performance of our operations as captured in our APP
ü Strengthening Inspection and enforcement efforts, with more emphasis on enforcement;
ü Promulgating Section 53 and Chapters II and III of the Employment Equity Act to address the stubborn non-compliance.
ü Submitting the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill;
ü Fast-Tracking the finalisation of the Unemployment Insurance Fund Regulations;
ü Submitting Amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act in order to give effect to the National Minimum Wage Agreement;
ü Focus on SADC and BRICS activities as host.
ü Upscale our labour Activation Programme with the Compensation Fund coming on stream.
We note that our budget allocation was again reduced in real terms this time around however; we will have to learn to do more with less.
Let me conclude by thanking The Deputy Minister of Labour, Inkosi Advocate Pathekile Holomisa, for his unwavering support; also extend my sincere gratitude to Honourable Chairperson and Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee of Labour, for your continued support and guidance in executing our work. Let me also extend my gratitude to our social partners for always being there when we need them and to the Director General of the Department of Labour and his team for their support.
I hereby table the 2017/18 Budget for the Department of Labour for your consideration.
I thank you.
SPEECH BY THE BY DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR, NKOSI PHATHEKILE HOLOMISA (AH! DILIZINTABA) MP ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2017/18 BUDGET VOTE 28 DEBATE
Honourable Minister of Labour,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Senior Officials of the Department,
Our Social Partners, Business, Labour and Civil Society,
Fellow South Africans,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am once again honoured to be standing before you today to present our Budget Vote 28 to this august house during the month of May, the Workers Month.
If you have never been marginalized, never been poor, never been denied access to quality education, never been discriminated against, never been unemployed and never worked as a labourer, you will never fully grasp the plight and the pain of those who have been exposed to such circumstances.
The government of the people, through the African National Congress (ANC), understands the plight of the poor and the vulnerable workers of our country and is best placed to deal with their challenges. This is precisely because the ANC has walked the journey with them, has weathered the storms, and has come out on the other side. We are, therefore, able to see the old and new South Africa through their eyes.
Our transition from the old to the new South Africa is a powerful narrative of our country. The Department of Labour is at the apex of that process as it is central in the writing of a new chapter in the South African labour market environment.
In writing the new chapter and in celebrating our achievements, we do recognize that much more still needs to be done. However, it is also important to highlight that we have so transformed the labour relations landscape that, as the Minister has already indicated, we enjoy international recognition as trailblazers in that regard. Through various pieces of legislation we have restored the dignity of our people
Honourable Members, we would be naïve, however, as this august House to think that we can completely erase the impact of the monstrous apartheid and slavery policies in just 23 years of democracy.
One of my responsibilities in the Department is to play an oversight role in the smooth implementation of the Department’s strategic and operational objectives to ensure effective and efficient delivery of our services to the public. It is, therefore, with pride that I present to this august House the Department’s achievements especially in the last financial year.
Mhlali ngaphambili namalungu abekekileyo, mandigawule ndiwaruqa, ndingene emxholweni wokuba sisebenze njani kulonyaka-mali siphuma kuwo.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am particularly pleased to share with you our achievements as per the commitments we made last year. Firstly, over the last financial year, the Department improved its overall performance to just around 77% (Seventy Seven percent).
During the 2016/17 financial year the Department was allocated R2.8 Billion and spent R2.7 Billion. Therefore, in percentage terms the Department spent 97% of its allocated budget.
Honourable Chairperson and Members, the R2.8 billion allocated budget was distributed amongst the 4 Programmes and spent as follows:
Administration spent 96.7% of its allocation, achieving an overall performance of 60%. Inspection and Enforcement Services spent 92,8% of its allocation, achieving an overall performance of 87%. Public Employment Services spent 99,8% of its allocation, achieving overall performance of 75%. Labour Policy and Industrial Relations spent 98,3% of its allocation, achieving overall performance of 71%.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund achieved an overall performance of 69%. The Minister indicated earlier that the Compensation Fund has been discharged from the Intensive Care Unit (“ICU”) and this is indicated by the Fund’s progressive performance improvement, which is highlighted by an overall achievement of 50% for the 2016/17 financial year. Mphathiswa, the members who made it their business to know this Fund will very well agree that this is indeed a significant improvement, even if a lot still needs to be done.
Honourable Chairperson, as a Governing Party, as a Department, we recognize our role of regulating the labour market, to ensure stability and a vibrant economy that yields tangible benefits, including job creation. The progress and commitments that have been presented by the Minister today, are testimony to the fact that we are a caring Government of the People; a government that seeks to improve the socio economic conditions of our people, be it in urban settings, townships, farm dwellings or far flung rural areas.
Honourable Chairperson, last year I reported that I had witnessed with my own eyes the difficulties that labour centres experienced in meeting public expectations as a result of inadequate human resources, especially at the front line offices and in our Inspectorate and Enforcement Services.
Honourable Minister, Sokwalisa, I am happy to report that the Department has since set in motion innovative ways and service delivery initiatives. The installation of self-service machines, better known as Kiosks, in our service points is in full swing. This ensures that our clients do not have to stand in long queues for hours on end in the blistering sun or inclement weather conditions.
The initiative has been piloted in all 9 Provinces and our objective is for every service delivery point to have a fully functioning Kiosk by 31 March 2018. The Kiosk initiative has been well received by members of the public and is starting to yield positive results. Those who wish to test the Kiosks are encouraged to visit our exhibition stand and the Cape Town labour centre.
Honourable Members, the Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch is receiving attention.
Honourable Chairperson, while we continue to capacitate the Inspectorate with the limited financial resources at our disposal, we have found innovative ways of dealing with the challenge as we do our work. Amongst others, we embarked on focused training programmes which seek to assist the Labour Inspectors in fast tracking their processes thereby improving results.
The action taken by the Department in its attempt to strengthen the Inspectorate produced positive results for the 2016/17 financial year. The performance of the unit improved progressively from a dismal percentage of 43% in 2014/15, to 67% in 2015/16 and in 2016/17 is standing at a whooping 87%.
Honourable Members, you will recall that last year the Minister undertook to deal aggressively with the designated employers found to be flouting the provisions of the Employment Equity Act. The Department referred to the Labour Court 192 employers who were non-compliant with the provisions of the Act. Interestingly, 19 companies opted for out of court settlements amounting to admission of guilt fines of R1.96 Million. 90 employers, who resist change, believing they have a fighting chance (“Amadelangozi ke lawo”) decided to oppose our court applications. The total value of the 90 cases amounts to R135 million.
Siphinde, Mphathiswa, sibeneqela labaqeshi abangamashumi asixhenxe anesithoba abakhethe ukufihla iintloko and decided not to settle or oppose our applications. (Ngamagwala ke lawo anjonge umoya uba ubhekisa ngaphi na) with the total value of R118.5 million in penalties.
The overall value of the work done by the Inspectorate just in the area of Employment Equity alone is R255.45 million against the expenditure of R18.5 Million for only 19 Employment Equity Labour Inspectors. This is an exceptional achievement!
Ladies and Gentlemen, the protection of vulnerable workers and promotion of decent work require the Department to have an adequate number of Labour Inspectors, who will ensure that the labour laws are upheld and complied with by all employers.
Honourable Chairperson and Members, the Administration programme has shown a significant improvement during the 2016/17 financial year. There are pockets of excellence within the programme, with the Finance Management Unit continuing to make us proud. Once again the Department received an unqualified audit opinion in the 2015/16 financial year for the fifth consecutive year.
We remain confident that the Auditor General’s audit report for the 2016/17 financial year will reveal even more positive results.
It is also important to note further that the changes instituted by the Department in financial management and oversight, have had the desired effect, with the Department having managed to process 17 593 invoices out of 17 666 received, a 99% achievement.
A vacancy rate is a moving target and we have done everything to ensure that we keep up with the government set vacancy rate of 9.9%. I am, therefore, proud to state that the Department’s vacancy rate is sitting at 9.6%. The Department filled all its vacant positions of senior management at National and Provincial level, with the exception of the Western Cape.
Honourable Chairperson and Members, the Department, through the Public Employment Services, continues to serve as the intermediary in the labour market between demand and supply of labour.
The Department uses an electronic employment registration system, know as ESSA, which enables work seekers to register their qualifications, skills and work experience and employers to register work and learning opportunities.
During the 2016/17 financial year the Department provided 197 247 registered work seekers with employment counselling and managed to place 12 517 registered work seekers in available job opportunities.
It is also important to note further that the Department, through the Public Employment Services programme, supports disability organizations to promote the employment of persons with disabilities. During the 2016/17 financial year, the Department transferred to disability organizations an amount of R11.3 million in the form of support subsidies.
The Supported Employment Enterprises (SEE), ebisawukwaziwa njenge-Sheltered Employment Factories (SEF), continue to sharpen the skills and to create an employment platform for persons with disabilities. The innovation and creativity of the staff are amazing. The entity participated in the Rand Easter Show and was given the “Best Exhibition Stand Award”. Some of their products may be viewed at our Parliament offices.
Honourable Chairperson and Members, it is also important to briefly reflect on the important work of Productivity South Africa. We all know that the mandate of the entity is to promote employment growth and workplace productivity. I am pleased to announce that the Department, through the Unemployment Insurance Fund, transferred an amount of R24.4 million, to assist in the implementation of the Turnaround Solution Programme. This programme assisted 49 companies and saved 4 760 jobs in the 2016/17 financial year.
On the other hand the Workplace Challenge Programme that seeks to improve the productivity and competitiveness of South African enterprises has a total of 776 companies, employing 49 138 employees, participating in the programme.
Urhulumente woMbutho weSizwe akasaqhubi nje kuphela ngoku, koko ubhabh'emafini!
Honourable Chairperson and Members, we acknowledge that Labour Policy and Industrial Relations is our business and our contribution in the National Minimum Wage speaks for itself. The introduction of the National Minimum Wage fulfills an important undertaking of the ANC to the work force of our country. We do not doubt that the National Minimum Wage will contribute to radical socio-economic transformation. We further believe that the positive gains of improved earnings and reduced poverty will by far outweigh the negatives.
Honourable Chairperson, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (“NEDLAC”) continues to play a pivotal role in transforming our labour policy frame-work. We, therefore, acknowledge that the Department would not have achieved the milestones it achieved in the labour policy development space without the commitment and support we get from NEDLAC. We extend our gratitude to everyone at NEDLAC for their contribution.
Honourable Chairperson, this leaves me with one other strategic entity of the Department, the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (“the CCMA”). It cannot be disputed by any of the members of this Honourable House that the CCMA continues to make us proud with its excellent work and outstanding performance.
Mhlali ngaphambili obekekileyo, ndivumele ndidlulise umbulelo ongazenzisiyo kuMphathiswa weli Sebe ngenkxaso, amacebiso nangentsebenziswano engummangaliso endiyifumanayo kuye njengeSekela lakhe. KwiKomiti ejongene nezabasebenzi ekhokelwa nguMamZangwa sithi, "Ngxatsho ke, tshotsho nibekho".
Okokugqibela ndithanda ukubulela uMlawuli-Jikelele kunye nawo onke amagosa nabasebenzi beSebe ngenkxaso nangendlela abawuthathela phezulu ngayo umsebenzi wabo. Ndibamba ngazibini nangenkxaso endiyifumana kusapho lwakuthi, lukhokelwe nguMamTipha, Ah! Nosimanye.
UMphathiswa sele ewenzile umkhomba ndlela, ngoko ke ikhwelo lityala. Masingen'entsimini!
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