Tag Archive | Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act

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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