Tag Archive | NEDLAC

Labour relations bill rejected

LRA amendment on strike violence rejected….

ian ollisThe Portfolio Committee on Labour has rejected a Private Member’s Bill, the Labour Relations Amendment Bill proposed by Shadow Minister of Labour, Ian Ollis, to make provision for trade unions to be accountable in the event of violence, destruction of property and intimidation by union members during a protected strike.

The background to the Bill noted that “statistics from the protest action in the metal and engineering sector showed that in the first two weeks of that strike, 246 cases of intimidation, 50 violent ‘incidents’ and 85 cases of vandalism were recorded.

Duty to take reasonable steps

“The Bill seeks to provide a statutory duty on trade unions to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to persons and property within the Act”, said Ian Ollis MP, when tabling the Bill noting that his Bill had been stalled since 2010.

COSATU spokesperson Patrick Craven at the time responded with the statement that “COSATU will campaign relentlessly, thorough the alliance, in Parliament, at the Constitutional court and in the streets, to ensure that such a law is defeated.”\

Cabinet says we have the tools

Meanwhile, when President Zuma addressed the House in his State of Nation Address he condemned violence associated with strikes but said, “We have enough instruments in our labour relations machinery to resolve labour disputes.”

When presenting the Bill to Parliament in the current session, Ian Ollis said that the Bill could specify penalties, but also it envisaged a situation where the Labour Court is given permission to order parties, if a strike turned violent, to arbitration.

The Department of Labour (DoL) distanced itself from the Bill, Director-General, Thobile Lamati sayingThobile Lamati that these issues that were being addressed at NEDLAC level.

As a result of the meeting, a further Labour Portfolio Committee meeting heard the advice of Parliamentary Legal Adviser, Ms Noluthando Mpikashe, who told the Committee that although the Bill has no constitutional defects, existing legislation catered for all its contents.   She cited the Gatherings Act (Section 11) as a satisfactory answer and that the proposed Bill was pre-empting the NEDLAC deliberations.

Back to Marikana

Ollis responded that the Bill simply proposed that unions be held accountable for the conduct of their members during strike action. This will ensure not only accountability, but safety of the non-striking workers and added that “had the Bill been in place, lives would have been saved at Marikana.”

He complained “The Gatherings Act does not regulate any behaviour outside an approved gathering. The Bill before the Committee speaks to actions resulting from unapproved gatherings. The Bill also calls for the granting of permission to the Labour Court to force arbitration once a strike had turned violent,” he said.

He also complained in previous meetings that that the Opposition did not have a voice in NEDLAC. It could not give any input. The duty of the Opposition was to propose new ideas with regard to legislation, and the only way to reach NEDLAC was through the Portfolio Committee.

Bill voted out

Chairperson Yengeni rejected totally the claim that Opposition parties could not address NEDLAC directly. She said there were channels available to engage any entity of government.  She thanked Shadow Minister Ollis for his Bill and all the work that had gone into it but said “When the NEDLAC process is complete, the Committee will be the wiser”. Using its majority, ANC MPs rejected the Bill in its totality, the IFP abstaining.

Chairperson Lumka Yengeni stated afterwards, “The Bill is rejected by the Committee as it is not raising anything new. All its contents are captured in the Regulation of Gatherings Act,” she said. “The Department of Labour is on top of the situation”, she added.

Shadow Minister Ollis said, “The violence will continue. Therefore the current platform is inadequate.”

Other articles in this category or as background
Parliament delays process on Labour Relations Bill – ParlyReportSA
Muscle may be added to LRA – ParlyReportSA

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NEDLAC gets called to task

NEDLAC not clear on performance……

nedlac logo smallDespite having received an unqualified audit from the auditor general on its annual financial statements, National Economic and Labour Development Labour Council (NEDLAC) officials were requested by the parliamentary portfolio committee on labour to re-present their financial statements to give more clarity on how their 2013/4 budget had been spent.  Once again, chairperson Lumka Yengeni  established that any labour portfolio committee meeting  is no walkover.

Members of the committee complained that the figures presented by NEDLAC needed to be presented on a quarter by quarter basis and had to show specifics of categories spent against budget. Five working days was given for such a report to be in the hands of chair of the committee, Lumka Yengeni.

Mkhize left for family reasons…

Alistair Smith, Executive Director of NEDLAC, who replaced Herbert Mkhize in the 2011/2 year, the same year as that being subjected to special forensic audit by the auditor general, is now himself resigning. When asked by Ian Ollis (DA) why this was so, he said that he wished to spend more time with his family, indicating that total retirement from the business world was on the cards.

The committee noted that the special forensic audit, only recently commissioned, was not of specific interest at this stage as it was a separate matter not connected to the year under review and in any case the report was not yet ready.  However, chair Lumka Yengeni said the financial report now presented to the committee by NEDLAC gave no idea of performance against objectives and equally no idea of programme targets, all of which was the purpose of parliamentary oversight.

Alistair Smith in his review promised to meet the deadline for a fresh report and said that whilst it was the job of NEDLAC to promote economic growth, social equity and decent work through a culture of social dialogue and engagement to bring about effective participation in policymaking and legislation, performance was dependant on stakeholder partners.

Urgent talks on future

He warned MPs that in the short to medium term South Africa’s growth prospects are constrained by global conditions and domestic factors, including low investment and savings, weak domestic demand, low business confidence, energy constraints and challenges in our labour market.    “We need to have urgent conversations about how to tackle these growth constraints and these conversations must be guided by a willingness to resist quick-fix and knee jerk solutions”, he said.

Alistair Smith pointed to the fact that in the area of legislation NEDLAC had achieved much in 2013/2014 despite the constraints of a difficult year due to elections and a change in ministers and their portfolio responsibilities.

Dealt with by NEDLAC during the year had been the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill; the Gas Amendment Bill; the Expropriation Bill; the Public Administration Management Bill and the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill, Alistair Smith reported.

New legislation ahead

Currently in hand were meetings and study groups dealing with a new Housing Consumer Protection Bill; amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act: compensation factors added to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries Act: regulations for assessment of work of equal value; and a review of the Codes of Good Practice on dismissal factors.

He also warned parliamentarians that it was “necessary that we take stock of the state of our society and especially of the socio-economic challenges that threaten our social cohesion and may eventually even threaten our hard won democratic gains.”

NEDLAC’s balance sheet showed that of the appropriation of over just under R27m, well over 26m had been spent in time and that the long outstanding risk management committee was about to be formed. A complete renovation of the entity’s headquarters, known as NEDLAC House, had been concluded at a cost of R30m.

Also completed,  Alistair Smith said, was work on the Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Bill and much had taken place with regard to the extended public works programme; access to housing finance; small business financing;  and research on tax matters for the Davis Tax Commission.  Of immediate concern, he concluded, were meetings concerning the National Land Transport Bill.
Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/cabinetpresidential/nedlac-gets-a-stronger-voice-in-sez-management/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/bee/back-comes-gender-bill-for-rethink/

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Back comes gender equality bill for re-think

Gender equality bill still on the cards…

The controversial Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was withdrawn by the new minister of women, Susan Shabangu just before the recent short recess in Parliament.   The legislation in its present form would have obliged companies to progressively achieve 50% representation for women in top levels of management.

Business has termed the Bill as having clauses which are impractical, others unenforceable.

The Gender Equality Bill was pushed through the National Assembly (NA) just ahead of the March elections, having been tabled by former minister of women, children and people with disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.    However, President Jacob Zuma had not yet signed the Bill into law and has now obliged minister Shabangu.

She told the portfolio committee on women in the Presidency during her department’s budget vote presentations that the Bill had been tabled without sufficient consultation and would be re-introduced when more consultation had taken place.

Focus to change

susan shabangu2The revised bill would focus less on equal representation between men and women numerically, she said, and added that there had to be mechanisms to achieve “proper and effective representation” and that “excellence” had to be a qualification.

As the flagship project of previous minister Xingwana, the  Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was surprisingly hammered through Parliament with a hefty ANC majority of the last government despite being rejected by all social partners in Nedlac, due to its “vagueness and ambiguity”.

The Bill stipulated that all public and also “designated bodies” nominated by the minister at the time would have to submit plans for progressively achieving 50% representation for women in their decision-making structures.

Criminalisation

The proposed fines are stated as a maximum of 10% of annual turnover for continuous offenders, whilst the directors or CEOs of designated bodies could be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.   The Bill, as presently worded, overrides all other laws dealing with empowerment.

Subsequently, within the NA at final reading, ANC parliamentarians caused a failure to form a quorum, with DA members not attending on principle.  However, later, after ANC party whips applied pressure, it was passed by a small majority of hands.

There was strong opposition from business and industry at public hearings who complained that the Bill, which so heavily criminalised offenders, was at the same time both “impractical”, “unattainable” and “misguided in business terms”.

It was also submitted that there was in many cases no possibility of labour pools to meet such targets in many sectors over the time frame set by the Bill.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/women-empowerment-bill-gets-new-minister/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/women-empowerment-bill-powered/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/womens-constitutional-rights-to-be-followed-up-at-law/

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Nedlac gets a stronger voice in SEZ management

Long time in making

Coega harbour equipMinister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, told parliamentarians that much of the delay in bringing the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Bill to parliament was the result of lengthy negotiations on SEZ board make-up.

Whilst the draft Bill was at Nedlac negotiation stage, it had resulted in the proposed six independent members of the fifteen member SEZ board were now proposed as three independent members from Nedlac “constituencies”, the other three independents being proposed by the minister.

However, DTI had insisted that the three Nedlac independents balancing the independents, presumably from business, meet a criteria set rob daviesby DTI and the minister.

Linking SEZs to IDZs

Another reason for the lengthy gap between the Bill first appearing for public comment and its tabling was that a considerable amount of work and input had been made at provincial and localised areas in places such as Coega and East London, where SEZs were in embryonic stage, or in areas where IDZs were about to happen such as Saldanha.

DTI was at pains to state that the two complimented each other, although SEZs were a subsequent development found necessary to develop all areas of South Africa, especially in depressed rural areas, whereas IDZs were linked to ports or international airports.

The new SEZ board will administer proposals for SEZs, run funding mechanisms and handle incentives, said minister Davies. In each area set up, DTI will be responsible for setting up a “one stop government shop” to deal with all government departmental issues involved with the investors dealing with the particular SEZ.

State will work with partners

The Bill will provide for municipalities, in fact any tier of government, to apply for an SEZ but a rigorous process of evaluation is called for in terms of the Bill where a business applies for an SEZ in evaluating whether a municipality is capable or has the capability to provide the services called for. No private ownership of a SEZ will be allowed but private and public partnerships are to be encouraged.

DTI provided Parliament with the figures to date on progress with existing IDZs amounting to some R3bn providing nearly 50,000 jobs. Saldanha particularly had provided a strong foundation for the oil and gas industry in that area, said Lionel October, director general, DTI.

Four types

Most importantly, October said that the SEZ Bill provided the missing framework for this kind of area industrial development and there were four types of or categories of SEZ, which were a free port; a free trade zone; an industrial development zone; or a sector development zone.    Any government or municipal involvement is to be in terms of both the Public Finance and Municipal Finance Management Acts, the Bill proposes.

In answer to comments that Kenya and Nigeria were ahead of South Africa in such investment offerings and speed and good incentives were essential, Minister Davies responded that it was not a question of anybody being “ahead” of anybody.   South Africa, he said, wanted to see all of Africa grow and South Africans wanted to be able to trade with the whole of Africa. All of Africa must grow for all to benefit. It was not relevant to him, he said, whether Nigeria was economically larger or smaller than South Africa.

Will SEZs override traditional land?

Various MPs gave voice to the worry of land issues in rural areas where SEZs were to be established or created but DTI expressed little concern on this matter as far as drafting the Bill was concerned.     DTI responded that that such issues were specific to an individual SEZ and such matters would be dealt with in terms of an individual application and by the individual SEZ working party involved.

The primary concern, said DTI, had to be the re-industrialization of the rural areas.
Associated articles archived
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/special-economic-zones-sez-bill-to-be-be-up-shortly/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/sez-programme-to-get-going-with-new-bill/

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Finance, economic, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Dates for new labour law amendments outlined

A date of November 2012 has been given as the conclusion date for the NEDLAC debate on the trio of labour law amendment bills currently before them and which includes the now much-discussed labour law touching upon labour broking. Also included in the discussions are also the Public Employment Services Bill and the Employment Equity Amendment Bill.

The date was given by minister Mildred Oliphant when introducing her department’s strategic plan for 2012 to the relevant portfolio committee last week.

The three bills, all further amendments to their own anchor legislation being dealt with first are the Employment Equity Amendment Bill; the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill.

The department of labour (DOL) is in the process of presenting all three Bills to cabinet and then tabling in Parliament.

Taking into account parliamentary public hearings on all three, which will probably be a lengthy process, the middle of July 2013 would be a probable date by which such legislation as finally amended and gets put to the vote.

Amongst the principles of the new legislation as promoted by Minister Oliphant and DOL generally were her department’s objectives of promoting sound and responsive legislation, flexibility of the labour market;  promoting as always “decent employment” but not at the same time compromising a favourable climate for investment, she said.

Insofar as the contentious Labour Relations Amendment Bill is concerned, minister Oliphant said that current proposals were that employers would have ensure that an employer treats a part-time employee generally not less favourably than a comparable full-time employee doing the same work, unless there is a justifiable reason for different treatment.

A similar expression with the word “justifiable” was used by minister Oliphant when describing an employee on a fixed term contract for longer than six months who must be treated “on the whole” not less favourably than an employee employed on an indefinite basis.

She also referred to the issue where an employee has been in service for a period exceeding 24 months who, according to the draft as it stood at present, will be paid severance “subject to the terms of any applicable collective  agreement,” one week’s remuneration for each completed year of his or her contract.

The issue of the registration of labour brokers remains an issue of political rhetoric, statements from government ministers and the President varying according to the audience.

It is understood that discussions at NEDLAC on the remaining two Bills have not begun.

BUSA expressed its dismay regard the process now nearly complete before matters go for parliamentary process, saying this will hardly correct the inherent defects in the changes which “will destroy economic growth”.

Posted in BEE, Cabinet,Presidential, Finance, economic, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments


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