Tag Archive | department of labour

Immigrant visa problems dominate debate

sam mototabaNorthern agriculture seen as visa defaulter…….

sent to clients 15 June…..Sam Morotoba, DDG of Public Employment Services, Department of Labour (DOL), told parliamentarians that it was DOL’s view that visa immigration policies for South Africa must involve cutting down on the flow of unskilled immigrants into the country.

From the nature of the debate, it was evident that DOL was more concerned on the creation of jobs for South Africans and not the issue of visa granting to specialist cases, a fact which gained the support of most  MPs.

Sam Morotaba said that amongst the massive inflow of undocumented persons crossing what is some 4,000kms of border there were those that did find work, had no entry visa and were totally exploited in the process. Most of the border was totally “porous”, he said.

More facts emerged during the particular Labour Portfolio Committee meeting when both DOL and the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) jointly made presentations on immigration policy.   The practical aspects of the issue of work permits to foreigners, normally called “temporary visas” were discussed.

Not asylum seekers

Over 70% of the non-documented labour problem occurred in Limpopo Province, according to DOL figures.    It was also shown that there were approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants in the country at present, whether they were working or not.   Refugees from war and refugees seeking asylum were a completely different issue, Morotaba said, and they represented a much smaller number, .

sa border beit bridgeSpecially conducted “raids” on farms and businesses in the Northern areas and which were carried out by the few inspectorate staff that were available to DOL were frustrated by the advent of the cell-phone.    Messages were simply sent ahead by immigrant employees advising that a “raid” was in progress and workers who had no documentation but wanted the work simply went into hiding.

Some employers told their employees not to come to work when appointments with DOL inspectors were made. “Raids”, in conjunction with South African Police Services,were extremely difficult to undertake unless the matter was serious enough to consider that a possible breach of the law had taken place.

Traffickers

The problem was exacerbated, said Morotaba, by traffickers that postured as labour “sellers” and went from farm to farm offering cheap labour in the form of immigrants without documentation looking for work.    Inspectors had resorted to “raids” on Friday “paydays” and also at night.  Employers were generally unhelpful; gaining access to farms was difficult; and the success rate in finding illegal immigrants was therefore low, said DOL.

Farmers remained the major culprits, it became apparent – an issue which has been the main theme of chairperson Lumka Yengeni of the Portfolio Committee on Labour for a number of years.

DOL said that there were more than five million legal immigrants in the country and the laws of South Africa demanded that all workers be protected, whether illegal or not, in terms of the Constitution. This had to be borne in mind, they said.

Desperate people

However, underpaying desperate people who had no temporary visa and housing them in filthy conditions, was farm labourersquite a different matter and was a contravention of all international principles. This was the issue facing DOL.

Also, some companies and employers simply did not want to test the local market for labour suitability or could not be bothered to try, DOL said, and also probably also wanted to avoid UIF participation, collection and payment and few farmers got involved in the cost of skills training.

Home Affairs briefing

The main agenda of the portfolio committee meeting in question was the subject of the nature of relationships between DOHA and DOL. Also their observations were requested on the current position with regard to delays in issuing visas and DOHA was asked to give a technical explanation of where the visa issuance process was headed.

DOHA was represented Acting Chief Director for Visas, Home Affairs, Modiri Matthews, supported by Ronnie Marhule. Modiri Matthews said his department was mandated by the Immigration Act to deport those unlawfully in the country.

visa stampHe made it clear that the Immigration Act stated that a temporary residence visa could be granted only for the categories of Study, Treaty, Business, Crew, Medical Treatment, Relatives, Work, Retired Persons, Exchange and Asylum.

It was only when a permanent resident permit was issued that the holder was entitled to live in South Africa on a permanent basis, with all the rights and obligations of a citizen except the right to vote and use an SA passport. This was standard in most countries, he said.

Visa classification

There were three kinds of visas – Corporate, General Work Visa and a Business Visa.   Most farming entities and general business fell under the category of corporate visas, where a requested number of foreigners was needed by an employer.

Proof had to be supplied that despite a diligent search, the applicant could not find suitable SA citizens or permanent residents to occupy the positions; the job description had to be given; and it had to be conditional that salary and benefits paid would not be less than standard agreed emoluments.

Home Affairs confirmed that feedback indicated that the current system is too cumbersome due to DHA’s lack of capacity to handle the volume of applications; the fact that “standard operating procedures” within the department were ambiguous; that many officials were insufficiently trained and turnaround around times were too slow.

Speeding things up

Modiri Matthews promised parliamentarians that new electronic systems were in place to ensure a more secure system of interaction between DHA, DOL and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – the latter being responsible for issuing the quota or number of visas issued, all of which had expiry dates. The plan envisaged is that once the permission is issued by DTI, for DHA to take 30 days and DOL no more than 8 weeks to process a visa request andvisa with hand DHA to issue or decline.

When asked by MPs whether or not Home Affairs had a tracking system on visas granted but which had expired, whether working or not, Modiri Matthews responded that they had and the number of expired visas currently stood in the area of 30,000, which were on the tracking system.

Waiting period

Present at the meeting were also Ronnie Marhule, Acting Chief Director of Permits and Visas and Phindiwe Mbhele, Director for Corporate Permits and in question time, Angie Loliwe of the ANC complained to them that if the application were with DTI for even only 2 weeks, then the DOL process was added for thirty days and with Home Affairs adding about 8 weeks, there was not really any possibility of waiting less than three months for any one application to be processed at the very best. This was too long, she said.

Both Directors stated that there were “pressure points” mainly related to capacity to deal with the volumes of applications and this mainly affected “corporate” visas to farm workers. They told members of the Labour Committee that they were trying to deal with this, especially where urgent business applications were concerned.

They reminded MPs that with nearly 300,000 illegal immigrants, systems such as an “expired document” process was a time consuming business and DOL “had their work already cut out with the farming situation and inspections.”

One track discussion

Ninety per cent of the meeting time was spent discussing farm labour problems in the light of ANC problems with illegal labour entry to the North. Modiri Matthews said that there were only 11 centres in South Africa handling visa applications. There was a new office in Sandton, Johannesburg, he said, specifically geared to business needs.

To the irritation of some of the ANC members it was confirmed that the offices in East London and Port Elizabeth had been closed.   There was only one office for the whole of KwaZulu-Natal.   However, Matthews said there was was a specific plan to open two new business offices -presumed to be Cape Town and Durban.

Previous articles on category subject
Home Affairs gets tough on expired visas – ParlyReportSA
Home Affairs gives reasons for visa changes – ParlyReportSA
Agri-SA gives views on minimum wage – ParlyReportSA

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Poor showing from Department of Labour

sent to clients 6 October…..

Department roasted by MPs….. 

The Department of Labour (DOL) managed to spend 99% of the money allocated to it in the yearmildred-oliphant 2014/5, but in the same period achieved only 43% of its targets, according to the Auditor General (AG).

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Labour in response has now requested that Minister Mildred Oliphant appear before the committee to explain a dismal track record for the department built up over five years.

The committee was studying its own parliamentary overview of the DOL annual report which presentation also included DOL’s first 2015/6 quarterly financial and tasking targets. The overview was prepared in the light of  the AG’s recent audit of the department.

No better than before

In the first quarter of 2015/6, it was noted by the parliamentary overview that performance was little better than a bad previous year, with DOL spending R778.8m of the annual R2.6bn budget in that quarter, reflecting an under-expenditure of R130m with performance against targets also no better despite complaints lodged last year by the parliamentary PC on Labour.

The position was evident after the committee’s parliamentary financial oversight researcher had analyised the Auditor General’s report on DOL’s figures and perfomance in conjunction with reports from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPA) on the same subject, represented by Phelelani Dlomo of DPA.

Bad history

The sad litany of poor organisation, said Dlomo, went back to 2012 and the R880 000 misspent in a “fruitless and wasteful” manner when a labour imbizo was cancelled at the last minute “due to unforeseen circumstances” in Gauteng.   At no stage over the next 12 month, Dlomo showed, there was little evidence of any marked improvement.

Subsequent failures by the Department of Public Works to “produce invoices for the right year” for new buildings for DOL and failures with inspection and enforcement programmes on labour issues were subsequent reasons for the overall financial misfire. The excuses for underspending of budget in the current 2015/6 first quarter were “slow spending on stationery, office leases and travel, and unfilled but funded vacant positions.

Lumka YengeniChairperson Lumka Yengeni and the Committee were warned by the Parliamentary Legal Advisor that it could not touch upon the issue of the DOL strategic plans because such had been approved by Parliament but what needed to be investigated was the underperformance of employees, since it was at management level that the department was failing on a regular basis.

No show minister

Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, has had a running battle with the main Opposition Party for some time now because of her regular non-appearance before the Portfolio Committee on Labour. In a reply to a tabled parliamentary question on her absence by Ian Ollis MP (DA) that she had “defied and not heeded requests to attend Parliament”, the Minister replied in writing that she had never received any formal invitation, request or summons to attend the Portfolio Committee meetings.

The statement from her Ministry added “there is nothing unusual in parliamentary practice when a Minister is represented by her director general on issues requiring answers on departmental operations and plans.”

“This is not the practice of most Ministers”, said Ollis and added that the majority of Ministers liked toian ollis attend so that they appeared in touch with their departments and are conversant with the issues that their departments.  Without a doubt, he said, this was not the case with the Minister of Labour “who obviously rejected any financial oversight of her department’s performance.”

How bad can it get

Ms. Meisie Nkau of the Auditor General’s office completely supported the parliamentary research and analysis findings undertaken and added “DOL was spending but underachieving”. Opposition members at question time had a field day and asked the auditor general’s office if “DOL was not perhaps the worst department in government”.

Ms. Nkau of the AG’s office replied the DOL was “not the worst department at meeting its targets” but asked all MPs to rather “measure performance of all government departments against the best.”

The questioner, Michael Bagraim of the DA, said that he also suspected corruption in the Compensation Fund and called for a specific report from the Auditor-General’s office on this as soon as possible.

Top down problems

Derrick America (DA) said the accounting officer, DOL, must be held accountable as well. There had been a lack of “consequence management” and what was now evident was the retrogressive nature of the DOL and its entities.

“The Minister must give this committee a commitment as to when action would be taken against non-performing senior managers, who were also tolerating under-performance from their juniors”, he said.

Other articles in this category or as background

Labour : nobody at top biting the bullet – ParlyReportSA

Labour committee ignores strikes – ParlyReportSA

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Essential Services Committee remains underfunded

Essential Services agreements for crises….

meeting graphicThe Essential Services Committee (ESC), made up of part-time appointments and administered by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) but essentially separated from it in terms of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), told the Parliamentary Committee on Labour that it was vastly underfunded to undertake its work on a national scale.

To make his point, ESC’s chairperson, Adv Luvuyo Bono, said he had to pay from his own pocket a portion of his cell phone bill that related to ESC business and only had a totally out of date, second-hand laptop. It was clear throughout the meeting that ESC and CCMA were at odds with each other on financial issues.

CCMA funded but not controlled

The parent body, the CCMA, is the country’s recognised dispute resolution body established in terms of the LRA.   Like ESC, the CCMA is an independent body, does not belong to and is not controlled by any political party, trade union or business.   It “houses” the ESC and attends to the accounting but the work of the ESC is independent of and totally separated by law from the CCMA.

One independent body housing another independent function has clearly led to target plan and budgeting confusion, parliamentarians eventually concluded.

The ESC, as a separate function, conducts investigations and concludes agreements on those groups of employees who can be described as essential services, a critical role inasmuch that their determinations decide which services that, if interrupted, would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or any part of the population.

Constitutional rights always observed

No strikes or lock-outs are permitted in the case of promulgated essential services but in terms of not onlyfloods the Constitution but also the LRA, the issue of  “rights” still apply. ESC are obliged to refer disputes on events involving essential services and the “rights” involved to the CCMA for conciliation and arbitration.

Advocate Bono, the current chairperson of ESC, told Parliament that minimum service agreements (MSAs) were set for the defined essential services, detailing how many persons could go on strike if a strike during an event such as an emergency were to occur.

Out in the open

The work of the ESC has been going on for many years, MPs were told, but never before had the grouping been invited to present separately to Parliament, which invitation had been made by members of the opposition party. CCMA had merely reported on the financing of the ESC but not its work.

Adv BonoAdv. Bono told parliamentarians that, originally, essential services were defined as the police services, the defence force and parliamentary services but more recently  MSAs for municipal traffic services; municipal health; water services; some airport services; nursing including private nursing: blood transfusion and fire-fighting have been and more recently some private old age homes.

No regional coverage

Adv Bono said his entire function was run by only nine people with no regional outreach ability and there was a lack of understanding by the CCMA on what the ESC was and how it should be administered.  Employees, board members and himself were appointed by NEDLAC and were not full time public servants.

In answer to questions by MPs, Adv Bono admitted that of 278 municipalities ESC could only plan to deal with 75 of them in terms of MSAs required. He confirmed that it had been decided by the Minister not to include education. Electricity services were also not at ESC’s radar, he confirmed in answer to a question by MPs on load shedding, should there be an Eskom strike.

However, to vastly increase the coverage of the ESC and its work nationally was too much to expect with the current structure of ESC and its current budget.

Just tables, chairs, rent and part time fees.

Whilst Adv. Bono was clearly complaining that ESC was underfunded, he said his plans and targets were also constrained because help on administration services and office accommodation that came from CCMA were particularly limited. They were, however, separated by law in terms of the LRA and such a system was not really workable.

CCMA’s director, Nerine Kahn, told MPs that ESC’s budget had increased by 140% in the past three years and R3.8m was what the ESC had requested, which they got for what they said they could undertake.  In 2012, the budget was less than R1m. She could not comment on the work of the ESC, however, and its intentions.

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National low income retirement plan ahead

 State retirement plan possible….

dol logoIn terms of what has been expected for quite some time, the department of labour (DoL) is soon to launch an investigation into a national retirement mechanism for low income earners. Such has been announced to the parliamentary committee on labour.

DoL, in a statement issued shortly after the meeting had been held, added that a discussion paper on the issue would be tabled at Nedlac in the near future.

In the last month of the previous parliamentary session the portfolio committee on labour held a number of workshops on the minimum wage issue and other matters perceived as critical in the labour field. Pensions for low income earners was one of them.

Stakeholders join in

During these workshops, which the department’s performance against set targets contained in the strategic plan and annual performance plan was evaluated, strategies were developed by participating parties, contributing parliamentarians and DoL.

DoL also stated that it would be talking to ILO as part of its investigations into a national retirement programme, not only as far as best practices were concerned but also into what had been found possible and practical at certain income levels elsewhere.

old mutual logoIn a recent survey undertaken by the Old Mutual on retirement plans, 42% of respondents were found to have no formal retirement provision in place at all and 85% of those that did, stated their concern on not having enough money to retire as their greatest worry due to fears surrounding inflation.

DoL is now to go a step further into the area of the of an income bracket lower than dealt with by private pension fund operators and, says DoL, plans are also afoot to investigate the possibility of including government employees in the benefits offered by UIF and also the effectiveness of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

Other articles in this category or as background
Labour committee ignores strikes – ParlyReportSA
Parliament delays process on Labour Relations Bill – ParlyReportSA

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Agri-SA gives views on minimum wage

Tough stuff….

agri-saIn a tense meeting with MPs at working committee level, Agri-SA warned of possible job losses in the agricultural sector if a national minimum wage (NMW) were applied across the board without reference to categories or conditions of employment. The parliamentary portfolio committee on labour had invited Agri-SA and trade union affiliates to comment on the issue of a NMW being applied across the board in all spheres of national employment.

Lumka Yengeni, the chair of the portfolio committee, who caused a stir in the last parliament for touring the country for public views on labour brokers, in addition had called for comment from the mining, industry and commerce. The issue of a minimum wage for domestic workers, however, was not tabled at these series of meetings.

Higher wages the result

In the debate that took place, Hans van der Merwe, Executive Director, Agri-SA, told parliamentarians that a minimum wage set at a higher level than at present as part of a national application would result in a considerable number of structural changes within the farming industry to accommodate what would undoubtedly be, as a result, a call for higher wages in many spheres.

 He said any “adjustments” would no doubt be characterised by the shedding of jobs, increased mechanisation and the consolidation of farming units, as had happened in the past when farmers throughout the country had to “adjust to maintain their competitiveness and profitability.” He warned government that any such moves “should be carefully considered first” since aside from a number of unintended consequences, the target contained in the NDP to create a million jobs by 2030 would be vastly undermined.

Steadily less

Van der Merwe showed parliamentarians that the number of farming units in 1993 was estimated at 57,980, declining to 45,848 in 2002 and to 39,982 in 2007.   The decline in individual units continues, he said, and now some 20% of commercial farms were responsible for 80% of total production.   Employment showed a decline between from 1,093,265 in 1993 to 796,806 in 2007 with further declines since, much of it no doubt due to consolidation of farming units.

He said, “Whilst this does not necessarily imply that consolidated and larger farms are more cost-efficient, it does point to the fact that larger farming units have the financial ability to mechanise. This, against a backdrop of rising costs and in particular rising wages makes mechanisation more and more attractive.”

Agri-SA pointed out that all sectors in industry and commerce consisted of many different and contrasting sub-sectors and this was especially true of the agricultural sector. It ranged from small-scale farmers with a few hired workers to those who only hired seasonally; from some with very low skilled workers to some with a major system of mechanisation and highly skilled operators. He was adamant that there could be no “one size fits all” approach to a minimum wage in the agriculture sector.

The trend overall though, Van der Merwe said, was changing to a situation where in the end there would be fewer but more highly skilled workers with quality jobs and with a higher wage and more complementary benefits.   He produced statistics from UCT to show historically a picture where, as the agricultural minimum wage had increased, so the employment numbers had immediately gone down.

Big squeeze

Finally, he pointed to the fact that a number of farmers had currently hit hard times as a result of the current global economic situation and local recessive climate insofar as exports and local production was concerned and many were going out of business and with financial problems.

Van der Merwe said that in an overall sense the country was going through difficult times in the agricultural sector and there was consequently a threat to national food security targets associated with the decline. He said that the monthly national minimum wage in Namibia was R888, Botswana R5,470, Zimbabwe R590 and South Africa R2,420 and he commented that the issue of a much higher minimum wage would “increase the possibility of South African farmers investing in neighbouring countries where there were more favourable conditions for farming, particularly where labour issues were concerned.”

He also warned that any substitution of local farming produce would be at the cost of South Africa having to import more agricultural produce.

Diametrically opposed

Raymond Mnguni, Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), said the union was insulted by the comparison of national minimum wages between neighbouring countries and South Africa.  It made little difference how bad or worse other countries were, he said, but the point was that South African farmers on the whole were paying “poverty wages”.

He indicated that Agri-SA had inferred throughout their presentation that farm workers in this country were a liability rather than an asset.  He said FAWU was “tired” of the threat that farmers would mechanise and cut down on the wages bill every time the question of a better life for working families on farms came up.

Neil Coleman of COSATU disputed Agri-SA’s statistics that showed a decline in employment in the agricultural sector of recent, quoting figures from Free Market Foundation.  In response, Agri-SA admitted that since 2010 to 2013 there had been a minimal increase in employment but their point was that every time there was an increase in minimum wages, employment figures dropped.

What others are doing

Opposition member, Ian Ollis (DA), said nobody wanted the workers to remain poor and he considered the statistics, in fact, slightly encouraging.    Mostly, he added, they showed that Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia badly needed a national minimum wage of some sort very soon.  

He said the debate in South Africa was not about the need for a minimum wage but whether there should be a national minimum, what it should be currently and whether it should applied sector by sector according to the economics of that sector. He said opposition members needed to know how and to what degree Agri-SA were involved in skills training and more about any adaption to mechanisation.

There followed lengthy questioning of dubious quality from various smaller agriculture affiliated unions and opposition members, notably the EFF, on the subject of mistreatment of agricultural workers, low wages paid and matters which did not contribute to the issue of a debate on the NMW.  

At one stage, chair Yengeni called for questioners to refrain from derogatory comments. Ms Mantashe (ANC) called for a detailed written response on the training and up-skilling of farm workers and some accurate figures to be supplied for committee consumption. 

She added that she was disappointed that Agri-SA had omitted the information on the profits made in the sector, particularly comparisons before the 2008 financial crisis and now. Similarly, chair Yengeni called for details of skills training undertaken in the agri-sector.  Agri–SA said such figures were available and would be submitted to the parliamentary committee.

Other articles in this category or as background

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/cabinetpresidential/new-approach-to-land-reform/ http://parlyreportsa.co.za/landagriculture/state-land-reform-process-excludes-expropriation/ http://parlyreportsa.co.za/landagriculture/parliament-discusses-use-agric-gmos/

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Labour committee ignores strikes

Strikes not given as labour problems….

dol logoActing DG of the department of  labour (DoL), Sam Morotua, when asked before the recent short recess for “the major challenges” faced by his department in the labour market, noticeably failed to mention any of the issues surrounding the current spate of strikes both in the mining and metalworkers section.

This was despite later stating that one of his departmental tasks was to run programmes evaluating the effects of labour issues upon the economy.

New chairperson of the labour portfolio committee, Lumka Yengeni, had broken with normal procedure and asked Morotua to enumerate the most important issues currently being dealt by DOL before commencing the department’s strategy briefing Parliament together with the department’s justification of the current labour budget appropriation for 2014/5.

Chair Yengeni had already put her energetic stamp on the committee’s work programme with a more interactive and vigorous approach during the first weeks of the new Parliament.

Seven problem areas

In response to the question by the chair, DG  Morotua listed DoL’s main “challenges” as unemployment and under employment; the changing nature of work in the country; inequalities and unfair discrimination in the workplace; domestic and cross border labour migration; inadequate instruments for constant performance; monitoring and evaluation of labour market and completing programmes to determine impact of such on the economy.

During the DoL briefing, Bheki Maduna, in charge of finance at DOL, re-confirmed to parliamentarians that for 2013/14 the department received a total of R2.4bn whilst the current appropriation before them for 2014/15 had been increased to R2.5bn.

He said that in the last year, 95% of the budget for administration was spent and also 97% of the inspection and enforcement services budget. Funding “challenges” ahead would be the implementation of the new Employment Services Act; the funding of the new office of chief information officer; new ministerial offices and positions; and the general rising costs of inspection and enforcement generally.

Minimum wages question

In a subsequent meeting of the same committee, when approving the passage of the budget vote to National Assembly (NA), the EFF took the opportunity to make a proposal calling for the introduction of minimum wages in all workplaces, including a wage of R12 500 for mine workers.  A second proposal was made by EFF calling for new labour laws to be amended so that labour broking was scrapped in entirety.

There was overwhelming agreement by members not to debate such changes.

However, in the same meeting, the committee called upon DoL to immediately expedite the process of building the DoL communications technology capacity and investigate the possibility of using the reserves of the unemployment insurance fund (UIF) to improve on benefits payable to UIF beneficiaries and to increase the period over which payments were made, particularly maternity benefits.

Subsequently when the DOL budget vote came before the NA, labour minister, Mildred Oliphant brought the House up to date on the DoL legislative programme.

Labour law amendments

She stated that amendments to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act were in final draft stage but the questions of rehabilitation, re-integration and return to work were awaiting consultation with stakeholders.

She announced that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act would be amended regarding the issue of inspection and enforcement, confirming DOL’s earlier statement to the portfolio committee that additional budget would be required in this area.

All new regulations to the Employment Equity Act had been finalised, she said, publication being awaited; the Unemployment Insurance Act was to be amended and that these changes related to improvements of benefits and the submission of information by employers to the unemployment fund; and amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act were necessary because of the shortcomings in the way that health and safety was being regulated in the country.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/labour-relations-act-changes-passed/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/parliament-delays-process-on-labour-relations-bill/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/rumblings-in-labour-circles-on-bee/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/dates-for-new-labour-law-amendments-outlined/

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Employment Equity regulations unexpected

Employment Equity Act surprises on race issues….

The reality of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill passed in Parliament last October is now beginning to kick in with the enforcement of the Bill by the regulatory process.   The Bill has now become an Act but the regulations are not what were expected on the race issue insofar as equity returns are concerned.

Oddly enough there were few objections or queries on the Bill when the draft Bill was presented for public comment by the department of labour (DoL) over eighteen months ago.  The legislation looked destined for an easy passage through Parliament but opposition party DA members appeared to be divided on a number of issues.

In an unusual turn of events, the Bill, when introduced into Parliament, allowed for foreigners whose applications for citizenship were turned down before 1994 on the basis of their skin colour and such persons can be included in employment equity (EE) returns in future.    This occupied much of the discussion in Parliament and MPs appeared to be relaxed that employment in terms of BEE would be regulated by DoL according to the demographics in the related areas.

Fines based on turnover

Fines were proposed in relation to turnover of the entity in question which could fall into eleven categories varying from agriculture to manufacturing, quarrying and mining to catering and transport and from wholesale, trade and commercial agencies to finance and business services.   Electricity, gas and water entities were mentioned, as were construction and community and personal services – all with total annual turnover thresholds given.

Most public comment in the parliamentary public hearings warned of criminalising business and strong objections were voiced on this issue.

Furthermore, the provisions of the Bill allowed for all white, Indian and coloured women who had been gender disadvantaged in terms of statutory law at any stage will also qualify for inclusion in terms of equity reporting.     The Employment Equity Bill was the third in a raft of four new labour bills presented to Parliament last year.

Business lagging in action

In its briefing to Parliament before the parliamentary public hearings, DoL suggested to parliamentarians that “business and industry has been riding roughshod over the law which had been unrevised for nearly 15 years and it was time now that provision was made in their budgets for considerably more than the negligible fines of the past.”

At the time of the Bill, it was assumed by most in the public hearings that the reference to “equity in terms of national or regional demographics” would mean that employers could set equity targets or make plans as called for in what could be interpreted as reasonable and according to the geographic area each company or entity was located.

The Bill said that “guidance would be given” on this provision by the DoL. The Bill was passed and became an Act with, as always happens, the regulations awaited – a matter then purely between DoL and the employer.

Race proportional representation

It appears from press reports that the regulations “giving guidance” on the issue of race demographics are a far more contentious item than the issue of the fines objected in the public hearings in Parliament.

The employment equity plan that each company must draw up, it is reported, now call in terms of the regulations issued for the targets to represent national demographics, not regional demographics as was expected, but still wherever the entity is of 150 employees or more wherever that entity is located.

It is unlikely that this matter will be debated in Parliament again unless a legal challenge results over the particular portion of the regulations concerned or the whole Bill is overturned constitutionally, which seems unlikely. Pressure on government to relax in general terms the consequences of new labour laws is coming from a number of directions.

Previous articles in this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/employment-equity-amendment-bill-looks-set-easy-passage/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/employment-equity-bill-criminalises-offenders/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/turnover-fines-employment-equity-breaches/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/court-ruling-equity-quotas-affects-bee/

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UIF brings in foreign workers

Changes to Unemployment Insurance Act with new Bill….

Nearly thirty changes are proposed to the Unemployment Insurance Act, governing the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) in the form of the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill now tabled. Among other things, the Bill will qualify foreign workers for unemployment insurance benefits, as well as employees with learnership contracts.

In fact it is not quite clear whether Cabinet has approved the Bill for tabling in Parliament, no cabinet statement to this effect having been issued but the portfolio committee on labour has been briefed on the subject just before Parliament was closed.

It was stated that the Bill had been endorsed by Nedlac without any substantive amendments.

Aims of the Bill

The preamble to the Bill, which has not been debated, provides for “unemployment insurance benefits to learners who are undergoing learnership training and civil servants; to empower the Unemployment Insurance Board to provide in its constitution for the functions of regional appeals committees; to finance employment services and to adjust the accrual rate of a contributor’s entitlement to unemployment insurance benefits.”

On accrual issues, the proposed amendment will change the maximum accrual of 238 days to 365 days in a four year period. This will extend the period of payment of an unemployed contributor from eight months to twelve months. Beneficiaries will also accrue one day’s benefit for every four days of employment as a contributor.

 Payment period extended

The proposed amendment will change the maximum accrual of 238 days to 365 days in a four year period. This will extend the period of payment of an unemployed contributor from eight months to twelve months.    Beneficiaries will also accrue one day’s benefit for every four days of employment as a contributor.

The Bill also makes it quite clear that funds raised through the UIF process, other than money required to meet the current expenditure of the fund, must be deposited on behalf of the Fund with the Public Investment Corporation Ltd (PICC).

LegalBrief comment

Says LegalBrief, “The amendment will improve benefits from 38% – 60% to 45% – 65% in the various brackets. The amendment will also enable the minister to change or vary both minimum income replacement rate and the maximum income replacement rate without having to go to Parliament.”

“The present position is that the minister can vary the minimum income replacement rate only. Once the amendment becomes law the minister will simply use a regulation to vary either the minimum or maximum or both.”

A copy of the Bill as tabled in Parliament is available on the department’s website.
Previous articles in this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/labour-relations-act-changes-passed/

Posted in Facebook and Twitter, Labour, LinkedIn, Trade & Industry0 Comments

New Employment Equity Act gives shock

Employment Equity regulations published…

menfolk  The reality of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill passed in Parliament last October, now an Act, is beginning   to kick in with the enforcement of  regulations which, of course, are extra-parliamentary. The recently published regulations are not what were expected on the race issue, insofar as equity returns are concerned.

Oddly enough there were few objections or queries on the Employment Equity Bill when the draft Bill was presented for public comment by the department of labour (DoL) over eighteen months ago and the legislation looked destined for an easy passage through Parliament.

1994 critical date

In an unusual turn of events, the Employment Equity Bill, when introduced into Parliament, allowed for foreigners whose applications for citizenship were turned down before 1994 on the basis of their skin colour and such persons can be included in employment equity (EE) returns in future. This occupied much of the discussion in Parliament.

Fines were proposed as related to turnover of the entity in question, which could fall into eleven categories varying from agriculture to manufacturing, quarrying and mining to catering and transport and from wholesale, trade and commercial agencies to finance and business services.  Electricity, gas and water were mentioned, as was construction and community and personal services – all with total annual turnover thresholds given.

Worry was criminalisation

Most public comment in the parliamentary public hearings warned of the Employment Equity Bill criminalising business and strong objections were voiced on this issue.

Furthermore, the provisions of the Bill allowed for all white, Indian and coloured women who had been gender disadvantaged in terms of statutory law at any stage will also qualify for inclusion in terms of equity reporting. The Employment Equity Bill was the third in a raft of four new labour bills presented to Parliament last year.

In its briefing to Parliament before the parliamentary public hearings, DoL suggested to parliamentarians that “business and industry has been riding roughshod over the law which had been unrevised for nearly 15 years and it was time now that provision was made in their budgets for considerably more than the negligible fines of the past.”

National demographics the decider

At the time of the Bill, it was assumed by most in the public hearings that the reference to “equity in terms of national or regional demographics” would mean that employers could set equity targets or make plans as called for in what could be interpreted as reasonable and according to the geographic area each company or entity was located.

The Bill said that “guidance would be given” on this provision by the DoL. The Bill was passed and became an Act with, as always happens, the regulations awaited – a matter then purely between DoL and the employer.

It appears from press reports that the regulations “giving guidance” on the issue of race demographics are a far more contentious item than the issue of the fines objected in the public hearings in Parliament.

Still applies to min of 150 employed

The employment equity plan that each company must draw up, it is reported, now call in terms of the regulations issued for the targets to represent national demographics, not regional demographics as was expected, but still wherever the entity is of 150 employees or more wherever that entity is located.
It is unlikely that this matter will be debated in Parliament again, since a legal challenge might only result in that particular regulation being revised – unless of course the whole Bill is overturned constitutionally, which would seem most unlikely.
Previous articles in this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/employment-equity-amendment-bill-looks-set-easy-passage/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/employment-equity-bill-criminalises-offenders/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/turnover-fines-employment-equity-breaches/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/court-ruling-equity-quotas-affects-bee/

Posted in BEE, Labour, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Employment Equity Amendment Bill set to pass

Foreign labour gets look in….

legalIn an unusual turn of events  the Employment Equity Amendment Bill  allows for foreigners whose applications for citizenship were turned down before 1994 on the basis of their skin colour and such persons can be included in employment equity (EE) returns in future. Furthermore, all white, Indian and coloured women who had been gender disadvantaged in terms of statutory law at any stage will also qualify for inclusion in terms of equity reporting.

The next debate will possibly include a vote, the Employment Equity Bill being the third in a raft of four new labour bills presented recently to Parliament.

More of the same

The new EE Bill prohibits unfair discrimination in the workplace; regulates for the implementation of employment equity plans; gives more powers to labour inspectors; increase fines for non-compliance on equity issues for business; and ring fences such funds into a nominated national revenue fund.

Contraventions of some ten sections of the new Bill result in fines have a maximum penalty of R500,000 in cases where there are no previous convictions, to R900,000 in the case of four previous convictions in respect of the same offence within a period of three years.

Turnover based fines

Fines are, in fact, to be related to turnover of the entity in question, which can fall into eleven categories varying from agriculture to manufacturing, quarrying and mining to catering and transport and from wholesale, trade and commercial agencies to finance and business services. Electricity, gas and water are mentioned, as is construction and community and personal services – all with total annual turnover thresholds.

Other than a query from MPs to define further what constituted a “test” in terms of proposed provisions for regulations for psychometric evaluations to be carried out by the Health Professions Council, there were few objections or queries on the Bill when presented by DOL and the legislation looks destined for an easy passage through Parliament.

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/turnover-fines-employment-equity-breaches/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/employment-equity-bill-criminalises-offenders/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/rumblings-in-labour-circles-on-bee/

Posted in BEE, Facebook and Twitter, Labour, LinkedIn, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Turnover fines for employment equity breaches

Getting tough…

Ntsoaki+MamashelaFines that have been unrevised for a number of years for breaches in employment equity in terms of the Employment Equity Act are now proposed as being implemented on the basis of a direct link to balance sheet turnover, meaning a major increase in the size of penalty for medium and big business. The department of labour (DOL) have now briefed Parliament on the Employment Equity Act (EEA) Amendment Bill which was tabled during the last session of Parliament.

Hearings before Parliament from business are expected to be vociferous in their response. Business and industry have been facing a raft of new and more radical amendments to existing labour laws indicating a move from the voluntary nature of BEE participation through charters, to a legislative background of enforcement.

DOL suggested business and industry has been riding roughshod over the law which had been unrevised for nearly 15 years and it was  time now that provision was made in their budgets for considerably more than the “negligible fines” of the past.

New power to labour

The fourth of four of new labour laws, the EEA Amendment Bill, was presented to Parliament in a briefing to the portfolio committee on labour by the department’s equity director, Ntsoaki Mamashela (see picture).   The Labour Relations Amendment Bill, the Employment Services Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill have all be endorsed by the Nedlac process, following approval by cabinet; the Labour Relations Act changes failing to pass in the last parliamentary session due to lack of a quorum.

Ms Mamashela assured business that they had “nothing to fear” if they followed the basic rules which were now well-known throughout the country. The proposed amendments demand that the proportions of demographics on an employer’s staff role reflect the demographics of the territory in which the business or industry operates.

The proposed EEA changes apply to companies with 150 employees or more and the Bill makes it quite clear that the proposals refer to “black” people only.

Wording specific about racial categories

The wording of the new Bill states unambiguously “where under representation of people from designated groups has been identified by the analysis, the numerical goals to achieve the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups within each occupational [category and] level in the workforce, the timetable within which this is to be achieved, and the strategies intended to achieve those goals are not met”, the Bill states, then the minister may apply to the labour court for a fine to be imposed.

The fines are extensive, particularly where previous convictions are concerned, and reach nearly R3m. The department of labour  is also, the proposals state, given the right to refer those cases who have not made returns, or made false returns in respect of their employment equity registers, directly to the labour courts.

Public hearings before the portfolio committee continue.

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/business-and-government-miles-apart-on-labour-laws/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/labour-nobody-at-top-biting-the-bullet/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/parliament-delays-process-on-labour-relations-bill/

Posted in BEE, Facebook and Twitter, Labour, LinkedIn, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Employment equity bill criminalises offenders

Turnover linked penalties….

Fines according to turnover are now proposed for equity employment breaches, the department of labour (DOL) having now briefed Parliament on the Employment Equity Act (EEA) Amendment Bill, which was tabled during the last session of Parliament and which incorporates such proposals.

The new fines, which according to DOL have been unrevised for a number of years, are linked as before in the same way to breaches in employment equity in terms of the Employment Equity Act but have now been linked to the balance sheet, meaning  major increases in the size of penalty for medium and big business in the case of departure, such being in terms of  decisions made on the recommendation of DOL inspectors.

Hearings before Parliament from business were expected to be vociferous in their response and indeed so far have been. Business and industry have been facing a raft of new and more radical amendments to existing labour laws, indicating both a move from the voluntary nature of BEE participation through charters to a legislative background and criminalisation if labour policy is not met or purposefully avoided.

A whole package of law

The briefing of this, the fourth of the new labour laws following the Employment Services Bill, was presented to Parliament by the department’s equity director, Ntsoaki Mamashela.   The Labour Relations Amendment Bill, the Employment Services Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill have all been endorsed by the Nedlac process, following approval by cabinet; the Labour Relations Act changes failing to pass in the last parliamentary session due to lack of a quorum but subsequently now approved and to become law.

Ms Mamashela assured business that they had “nothing to fear” if they followed the basic rules which were now well-known throughout the country. The proposed amendments demand that the proportions of demographics on an employer’s staff role reflect the demographics of the territory in which the business or industry operates and apply to companies with 150 employees or more.

Mirroring your location

The Bill makes it quite clear that the proposals refer to “black” people amongst  designated groups and also states unambiguously “where under representation of people from designated groups has been identified by the analysis, the numerical goals to achieve the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups within each occupational [category and] level in the workforce, the timetable within which this is to be achieved, and the strategies intended to achieve those goals are not met”, the Bill states, then the minister may apply to the labour court for a fine to be imposed.

The fines are extensive, particularly where previous convictions are concerned, and are capped at nearly R3m. The department of labour  is also, the proposals state, given the right to refer those cases who have not made returns, or made false returns in respect of their employment equity registers, directly to the labour courts.

The results of public hearings will first be summated and responded to by the department and then debated by the portfolio committee.

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/business-and-government-miles-apart-on-labour-laws/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/labour-nobody-at-top-biting-the-bullet/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/parliament-delays-process-on-labour-relations-bill/

Posted in Labour0 Comments

Employment Services Bill waits in the wings

Job data required…..

For the first time in SA, every employer might have to advise the minister of all positions that become vacant in their structures and give details to the state of new jobs being created. The proposed Employment Services Bill is one of four new labour bills in process through Parliament.

It consequently follows that the principle with the new proposals being considered that the minister of labour in the proposals now before Parliament that government departments may pass on to the private sector job applicants that they have on record to fill jobs.  Also, companies that fail to notify the minister or department of labour when positions are filled may face a minimum fine of R10,000.

EEA Bill  bound to succeed in some form

These are some one of the more radical aspects of the proposed Employment Services Amendment Bill (EEA) Bill, which at this stage has proposed various changes within government setting up its own public service employment agencies as an inter-departmental internal process. Quite naturally, it is expected that this process will proceed, as DOL is not likely to object, nor any other state entities.

Parliament awaits to debate the Bill.

One of the primary aims of the EEA Bill is the proposal to keep a record of job seekers and record of vacancies in both private and public sectors and thus contributing to the national aim of reducing South Africa’s unemployment figures. The Bill acknowledges the seriousness of South Africa’s unemployment figures.

Free placings

The Bill also focuses on the section of government policy, touched upon in the three other amendments to labour legislation that are in parliamentary process,following the desired avenue of the eradication of the labour broking industry and, in the process, to allow the state to become more involved in the recruitment business on a free of charge basis.

This is also indicated in the department of labour (DOL) statements in Parliament recently when DOL officials stated that government’s view is that it has to influence the path of creating more jobs in order to meet targets set by the New Growth Plan if the department is to reach the targets set and subsequently evaluated by the monitoring and performance process within the presidency structure.

Foreign workers isolated

The EEA Bill flies in the face of constitutional queries, say commentators in the labour market, and the proposals seek to elevate opportunities for citizens over those of foreign workers by requiring employers to make use of the public employment service to be managed by DOL before employing foreign nationals.

The proposed Bill states that reasons will have to be submitted as to why citizens with suitable profiles referred to them by the department could not be employed with further questions as to their nationality.

Labour broking targeted

The EEA Bill also seeks to regulate, and to provide a licensing system, for what are referred to as “private employment agencies” and commentators say that definitions are poor when it comes to what is a labour broker,  a recruitment agent, and even employers working through contacts. They complain that it will be the state registration process that will soon decide who is and who is not acceptable.

The Bill introduces criminalisation for failure to meet many of the proposals outlined in the Bill.

Finally, the EEA Bill introduces a proposed Employment Services Board with functions to oversee the public employment services and oversee various regulatory matters connection with the process of hiring labour. A proposal is also made to regulate the existing agency, Productivity South Africa, insofar as its mandate is concerned to provide skills and put them in line with DOL strategies.

Refer previous articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/parliament-delays-process-on-labour-relations-bill/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/new-noise-level-labour-bill-on-way/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//education/employment-services-bill-will-promote-jobs-and-free-employment-services/

Posted in Finance, economic, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

New “noise level” labour Bill on way

Occupational Act to be amended…

Vuvuzelas A new labour bill on noise level induced hearing loss involving amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act would be introduced to Parliament said Madodana Tuntulwana, from the department of labour (DoL) director general’s office, when addressing parliamentarians on the department of labour’s annual budget report to Parliament.

 

The new Bill had been drafted which was with the State Law Advisers before being presented to cabinet and then, as is normal, going to Nedlac.   The Bill is as a result of research in the workplace carried out after visits to factory and workplaces in South Africa.

Annual report back

In presenting its annual performance figures, now tracked in terms of performance and evaluation,  DoL also presented its performance figures and budget, receiving credits from a number of parliamentarians across the political spectrum on their achievements for the year under review.

DoL showed that it had managed to inspect 32 838 workplaces compared to a target of 33 917 for the last quarter of 2012 alone, finding that 59% of workplaces complied fully with all aspect of labour regulations. Due action had been taken. On national figures, just given as an activity guide, it was also stated as being DoL’s intention to visit some 87,000 work stations nationally before the year was complete.

Complaints response

Labour complaints received from employees around the country to DoL offices numbered in total some 55,500 of which 65% were settled in 14 days, against a target set of 70%. The response system in most provinces was therefore working, it was noted.

Tuntulwana was very specific on inspections in the workplace were “social protection”, injury or hazardous materials were involved.  Noting that for this a separate exercise had taken place in the Western Cape, for which there was no political reason, so far 63 of the specific inspections out of a target of 200 had been achieved and matters dealt with or were in due process.

Tuntulwana added that other legislation, regulations and guidelines on employment services had been drawn up to address discrepancies in the labour market, provide a quality service and make DoL employment services more accessible during the next year.

Half a million workers applying

DoL stated it had succeeded in registering was 427,349 work-seekers, tabling a breakdown of the targets and achievements per province as at the end of 2012 together with a breakdown of work-seekers receiving counselling. He claimed that  94%, or 196 438 of the 207 950 people, who had approached the department nationally, had been dealt with.

Associated articles archived
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/rumblings-in-labour-circles-on-bee/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//education/employment-services-bill-will-promote-jobs-and-free-employment-services/

Posted in Enviro,Water, Labour, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Employment Services Bill to promote jobs, free employment services

Labour broking debate continues

A new Bill has been tabled in Parliament called the Employment Services Bill which aims to regulate in the area of employment services, regulating and providing for registration of private employment agencies. One of the aims of the Bill is to provide “comprehensive and integrated free public employment services” and to “establish schemes to promote the employment of young job seekers and other vulnerable persons”.

The government gazette, in describing the Bill’s purpose, says the legislation has been designed to regulate for and facilitate the employment of foreign nationals into areas “where they are needed ….and does not impact adversely on existing labour standards or the rights and expectations of South African workers”.  The Bill has been tabled by the minister of labour.

An “employment services board” is to be established to “promote employment, growth and workplace productivity” and “give effect to the right to fair labour practices contemplated in section 23 of the Constitution.”

Constitutional concerns

In terms of the Bill, schemes to assist employees in enterprises in distress and therefore to retain employment, will be undertaken and efforts made to “improve the employment and re-employment prospects of employees facing retrenchments.”

The Bill comes at a time when the furore over “labour broking”, whatever that might mean to different parties, is slowly subsiding and a more pragmatic approach appears to be the route rather than outright banning of short term work opportunities through agencies or “brokers”.

Nevertheless, the proposed legislation covers many more aspects than simply that issue. Hearings will take place once Parliament re-assembles in the New Year.

The new proposed legislation states that private employment agencies will be prohibited from “charging work seekers any fees for services rendered, unless the minister permits such fees for specific categories or specialised services” and they will be prohibited from “making deductions from employees’ remuneration”.

Private employment agencies must keep and safeguard the confidentiality of information relating to work seekers, the Bill warns, and “the labour court will be empowered to impose fines for breaches of the act”.

In the preamble, the Bill states that its purpose is to improve access to the labour market for work seekers and “facilitate access to training for work seekers, in particular, vulnerable work seekers.”

Posted in Education, Finance, economic, Labour, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Western Cape BEE figures disturbing, says labour minister

Releasing this year’s annual report on the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) at a parliamentary media briefing,  labour minister Mildred Oliphant said that there were some trends which “were disturbing” which she had noted had come from provincial governments.

Oliphant said while figures as far as BEE were concerned were improving in the employment of blacks at top senior management level in both the public and private sectors, the report showed white males and females were more likely to be recruited or promoted and the Western Cape government was still performing poorly with regard to the representation of black people, particularly Africans.

She quoted from the report, “The Western Cape is the worst performing province in terms of race and gender in both government and the private sector, across every occupational level.”

Labour director general, Thembinkosi Mkalipi, said, when the issue arose of whether party politics was involved in the observation, that employers themselves had provided employment equity statistics and his department did not interfere in the capturing and compilation of data

Mkalipi said amendments clauses to the Employment Equity Act contained in the Bill currently before parliament would speed up the process of transformation. There were many companies still resisting change, he said, and fronting was still an issue. The amendments including criminalising certain issues, so that fines could be raised and that this might further rectify the imbalances in equity returns next year.

Posted in BEE, Cabinet,Presidential, Labour, Trade & Industry0 Comments


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