Tag Archive | portfolio committee on labour

Further labour law changes proposed

New labour law on male parental leave…. 

sent to clients 20 Dec…….Cheryllin Dudley MP, an ACDP parliamentarian, has introduced a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament proposingcheryllin dudley amendment to SA labour laws on the general issues of parental issues; adoption of the child and proposals to allow parental leave to both parents with a list of benefits.

Public comment expired on 25 December and being a private members Bill, the invitation came from Parliament and specifically the Secretary to the Portfolio Committee on Labour, for comment. The Bill is entitled the Labour Laws Amendment Bill, a name which is bound to attract attention

MPs themselves are allowed to propose legislation direct to Parliament without reference to the particular government department affected. The Speaker of the House has, by procedure, assented to the tabling of this Bill.

Happier families

Bill seeks to amend the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997, so as to provide for parental, adoption and commissioning parental leave to employees; to provide that a collective agreement may not reduce an employee’s entitlement to parental, adoption or commissioning parental leave and amend the Unemployment Insurance Act. It also provides for the right to claim leave and parental benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The issue applying parental leave to “all parents” is obviously proposed in order to include a wider definition to those providing male parental care in terms of leave. The issue of gay adoptive relationships is not included in the actual wording (nor would an ACDP member suggest this) but the purpose of the Bill is apparently not selective as to whom the parents are but rather to significantly expand the recognition of parenthood in general at the workplace.

Family values first

mum dad and babyIn an explanatory memorandum attached to the draft Labour Laws Amendment Bill, the proponent explains that the Bill is primarily trying to get paternity leave legislated as part of its “policy on family values”, which stresses the importance of fathers in families.

It is proposed that any couple can decide which partner takes the 10 days of parental leave and which one takes a standardised two and a half months, cutting this down from four months as allowed under the Basic Employment Act.

One assumes, therefore, that the ACDP, has skirted the issue of gay relationships by accommodating the issue by proposing that all paternity leave would apply to all relationships in a heterosexual relationship but apply equally to one of the partners in a same-sex civil union.

The Bill will go through the normal legislative process, the Department of Labour’s submission therefore being a critical one during parliamentary hearings to be called in due course.

Labour in turmoil

No doubt COSATU and PIC will be more awake to making submissions than was in the case of the Financial Sector Regulations Bill (Twin Peaks) which vitally affected labour conditions insofar as government service and private sector on retirement funds, annuities and pensions, the Act now being signed and claimed as “sneaked” through – as if a change recommended in the 2014/5 Budget could possibly have been.  

Go to http://parlyreportsa.co.za/finance-economic/tax-legislation-for-parliamentary-debate/ for this subject, now in national debate, having passed through the parliamentary arena.

Previous articles on labour category subject
Deliberations reaching final stage on labour laws – ParlyReportSA
Labour Relations Act changes passed – ParlyReportSA
Labour committee ignores strikes – ParlyReportSA
Labour : nobody at top biting the bullet – 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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Lumka Yengeni

National minimum wage hearings completed

Labour committee to get consolidated report…..

ncop

 

In the light of the fact that any legislation to be considered on the subject of a national minimum wage would involve all undertakings on a national basis and a major cross section of its citizenry, Lumka Yengeni, chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on labour, finalised the provincial stage of her hearings.  Localised hearings were held in the Northern provinces last year and now in the balance of provinces after Parliament re-assembled.

The reason for this laborious process is that any such labour legislation would come under section 76 of the Constitution, which demands that debate and approval is not only at national level within the National Assembly (NA) but also with the concurrence of the relevant select committee of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Hearing the people……

Such legislation has to have the approval of each of the nine provincial legislatures and such mandates are passed back to the NCOP and have to be found in tandem with any NA approval.   Yengeni is therefore sounding out the market place, as it were, for the idea of a national minimum wage

Whether it would require a separate Bill or an amendment to the LRA is a premature thought at this stage, probably the former in the light that it would need another commission, another departmental structure, probably a tribunal, enforceable laws with penalties and very specific regulations.

ANC seems set on changes

BUSA, Chamber of Mines, labour brokers, Agri-SA and others have already made submissions on a national basis before Parliament closed and the extraordinary thing was that a parliamentary committee should have taken upon itself to debate the whole issue just before meetings on the same subject scheduled by Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Nevertheless, Agri-SA, in responding from one of the most problematic perspectives, 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 a call for higher wages in many spheres at many different levels of training and expertise.”

They warned that “to adjust and maintain their competitiveness and profitability” such a policy would be characterised by the shedding of jobs, increased mechanisation and the consolidation of farming units” – as had happened in the past they said.

FAWU zeroes in on agric

Food and Allied Workers Union said that any comparison to the minimum wage in nearby countries “was an insult” and said that that South African farmers on the whole were paying “poverty wages”. The cost of food to poorer families became a major debating area during the hearings, although there seemed to be tacit acceptance that the issue was to become an accepted fact on the labour horizon.

During the hearings recently in Gauteng, COSATU now seems to be suggesting remuneration somewhere in the area of R7,000 per month, submissions also coming from major industrial players in South Africa’s heavy industry sector. COSATU comments after the hearings where finally completed and in interview seemed to come “poker style” to an admittance that a minimum to them was seen at about R4,500.

Other articles in this category or as background
Agri-SA gives views on minimum wage – ParlyReportSA
Parliament debates national minimum wage – ParlyReportSA
Labour committee ignores strikes – 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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Lumka Yengeni

Parliament debates national minimum wage

Sector views on national minimum wage ….

editorial …  Feisty or not, Lumka Yengeni of the parliamentary portfolio committee on labour certainly knows how to advance her career. Whether all her recent parliamentary activity is in line with what Lithuli House wants one never knows but whatever she does seems to attract attention.

The recent hearings on the possibility of a national minimum wage (NMW), which the ANC has stated as a policy imperative, caught most by surprise by the wide ranging topics brought up in debate.  Lumka Yengeni seems to have latched on to ANC policy and summonsed many parties to Parliament to give their views on the subject, including BUSA, the Chamber of Mines and Agri-SA.   Invited to the debates in many cases were also the appropriate union affiliates to that particular sector

Reports on the consequent debates are with clients and will be posted on our website in a fortnight’s time, since immediacy is the purpose of our reports to them.

Maximum pressure for NMW

 The unusual thing about these meetings, as South Africa pivots on the edge of economic direction, is that Parliament should take it upon itself to debate the whole issue of the national minimum wage when the subject also has been scheduled by Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa  for a national gathering.

Whether this is naiveté on the part of Lumka Yengeni or plain political upstaging only those close to her will know but the experience of the apple farmers in Elgin over labour broking will testify to the fact that she knows the art of political theatre.

Perhaps, on such a difficult subject, forewarned is forearmed.

Other reports in this category

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/labour-committee-turns-away-strikes/

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/labour-relations-act-changes-passed/

 

 

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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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Labour Relations Act changes passed

LRA Bill through Parliament

Mildred OliphantThe Labour Relations Amendment (LRA) Bill has now been passed by the National Assembly, thus confirming the ambition of Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, to have this and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill (BCEA) as signed-off legislation before the last session of Parliament of the present government. The Bill received the concurrence from the NCOP, in this case the matter being considered a formality although the select committee involved called for submissions.

Two down, two to go and more to come

This leaves the two equity labour laws, the Employment Services Bill and the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, as part of four Bills approved by the Nedlac process and designed by the department of labour (DOL) to overhaul labour legislation in South Africa, to be finally approved in the last session.

The LRA changes in the meanwhile will enable legislation to address, DOL says, “a number of unfair labour practices” with minister Oliphant telling the House that the Bill now passed “will bring the provisions relating to child labour in line with international standards and will strengthen the mechanisms for enforcement of basic conditions of employment, including wages.”

Ballots and part timers

The new Act will alter the anchor Labour Relations Act (1995) to include a number of major amendments including the facilitation of the granting of organisational rights to trade unions that are “sufficiently representative” and, in addition, will require a trade union or any employers’ organisation to conduct a ballot prior to calling a strike or lock-out.

The new provisions will strengthen the status of picketing rules and agreements and in many instances the powers of the labour court are clarified. They will also determine and outline minimum service conditions deal with circumstances involving workers placed by temporary employment services, regulates on the employment of fixed-term contracts and deals with part-time employees earning below an earnings threshold.

UIF also involved

DOL has also tabled amendments to Unemployment Insurance Act to include foreign workers and public servants as well as to amend benefits by extending the period of payment of benefits to the contributor from eight months to twelve months and also extending the period in which a contributor can lodge a claim from the current six months to twelve months. Nomination of beneficiaries for death benefits will be possible and the fund itself will be allowed to finance its own employment promotion projects.

Under the occupational health aspect of DOL’s mandate, a Bill has been promised on the issue of noise pollution levels in the factory environment.

previous articles on this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/parliament-delays-process-on-labour-relations-bill/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//education/employment-services-bill-will-promote-jobs-and-free-employment-services/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/dates-for-new-labour-law-amendments-outlined/

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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

Labour : nobody at top biting the bullet

Parliamentary labour committee gives hint…..

mildred-oliphantLabour Minister Mildred Oliphant said in her budget vote speech that she would meet with the trade union leadership to discuss the “adversarial nature” of the country’s industrial relations and explore ways to arrest the “potential threat” to the system of collective bargaining. With the Nedlac process under scrutiny, South Africa heads towards an election with a Parliament not quite sure what is really happening.

Meanwhile, after months of painstaking negotiations and re-drafting of South Africa’s new labour laws and with the amendments under the Labour Relations Act nearing finalisation and adoption, suddenly an adversarial attitude was also adopted by the governing alliance members over contentious and much argued about issues such as labour broking.

So, with attitudes hardening, business has again lost track of indicators regarding government’s views on labour matters. A swing to the left was previously the concern but as political commentators now note, a swing to the nationalistic right is even more worrying.

What relevance then her speech?

Minister Oliphant  also said in her address that her department would host a labour relations indaba to enable stakeholders and role-players to engage regarding the future of collective bargaining in South Africa but a reading of recent parliamentary views stated by ANC MPs would change the ground rules for such an engagement yet again. Quite clearly, with an election forthcoming, the pack of cards has suddenly been thrown into the air. Oliphant continued…….

“We want to generate greater interests and concerns of social partners in respect of labour relations conflict, and identify measures to strengthen labour relations and dialogue to achieve labour market stability and peace,”  adding that the department of labour (DoL) was working closely with NEDLAC and the CCMA to achieve this.

Smoky glass

The minister noted that her budget vote took place at a critical time, when South Africa was entering the collective bargaining season, which seemed a pretty pointless thing to say and then compounded the totally inert contribution by adding that “Looking at the year ahead, that all stakeholders will  have to work together to achieve a peaceful environment in labour relations and collective bargaining.”

Finance waves a finger at somebody

pravon gordhanShortly afterwards when introducing the debate on his budget vote in the National Assembly, finance minister Pravin Gordhan said South Africa “was at a cross-roads over renewed labour unrest in the mining sector” and something needed to be done or the country would lose jobs and investor confidence, and companies would close. ‘

In his medium term budget statement, he was at pains to re-assure the investing community that budget deficits were under control and that SA was walking the big talk. But there was no reference to the big issue. A bloated public service, way out of proportion to the size of the community in South Africa, has a  pay rise coming.  This is more than a bump in the road head, it massive pothole to be negotiated.

“Concerted action by organised labour, business, civic leaders, and government is needed in the coming months , said the minister. “There is no role for complacency here”, he warned. Gordhan reiterated that labour unrest and stoppages at mines contributed “to much of the weaker economic performance in 2012”, which was compounded by job growth of only one percent.

“We are all in this together. If we do not resolve our labour relations challenges we will be losers. We will see deteriorating confidence, job losses, and business failures.”

Finding sensible solutions, Gordhan said, to the labour strife would benefit all. “But if we find a balanced, fair, socially responsible solution, we all stand to gain and we will see higher investment, higher employment, and improvements in living conditions. This is the choice that lies before us.”

Misfire, or was it?

zuma2Then spoke President Zuma in a special extra parliamentary speech from Pretoria, who also called on mining participants in the wage talks to play a stronger role, saying government could not take sides in the turf war between unions. His continued reference to the minister of finance’s speech earlier in Parliament was the anchor point of what he had to say, which it turned out to be very little.

In the meanwhile, minister in the presidency responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation, Collins Chabane, told parliamentarians in his budget vote speech that the National Development Plan (NDP), endorsed by COSATU or not, would form the basis of strategic framework for the next five years for government focus, the NDP forming the basis of nearly twenty budget votes speeches in Parliament in the last three weeks.

The apparent focus by government on the NDP and COSATU’s renewed platform of referring back to the Freedom Charter, was also evident during a speech by Trevor Manuel, minister of planning and one of the main architects of the NDP, who told his audience “We should guard against be waylaid by all manner of self-serving agendas that direct us away from building the desirable plan”.

VaviMeanwhile, Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of COSATU, told his audience, “Four out of ten people are unemployed and 19 years after democracy, we have become the protest centre of the world, a country still far from achieving the economic demands of the Freedom Charter.” He told his audience there was a lot to celebrate but all COSATU wanted was for the wealth of the country to be shared.

No mention of the NDP. Nobody stepping to the footplate.

To-ing and fro-ing on labour issues appears to be average activity for politicians, including the President, and at the moment, with nobody sticking their heads over the parapet, Parliament heads towards an election with business sitting in a vacuum and the international rating bodies not quite are what we are up to .

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Labour, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Rumblings in labour circles on BEE

The B-BBEE Amendment Bill hearings…..

What is emerging during the current BEE hearings held by the trade and industry portfolio committee on proposed amendments to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act is that there is a vast difference between how the department of trade and industry (DTI) want to manage black empowerment and what the department of labour (DOL) think of the way things are going under their steerage.

It appears the one is far more radical than the other, as was evidenced by the agreement of DTI’s director general, Lionel October, to take some of the more implausible definitions contained in the B-BBEE Act to his minister to re-visit as far as wording was concerned.

Reality perhaps

Probably, with DTI dealing with business and industry and investment issues on a continual basis they see some of the traps well ahead that are causing South Africa to drop on the investments listings globally and thus are more pragmatic or perhaps even phlegmatic when it comes to running BEE, their daily business.

It is a voluntary, non-racial issue, they maintain; it is up to the individual company wishing to secure business with government to verify their make up and enter the scoreboard game if they want government business, although government does set down its BEE ambitions in legislation.

Criminalisation

At the moment nobody goes to jail or pays heavy fines unless they cheat.   Each industry has been encouraged to have its own special charter to suit its own special circumstances.

But clearly, the Commission of Employment Equity (CEE) do not like sectoral charters, a fact backed by their partners on this issue, the Black Business Council, the latter having expressed this fact a number of times. Both want them scrapped or “trumped” by B-BBEE, more rigidly enforced.

Sectoral charters are voluntary

Whilst Manufacturing Circle, who make sensible input at most hearings, made the point that the very number of sectoral charters sometimes leads to confusion in large conglomerates whose activities stretch over many industrial activities, they were just calling for clarity on some issues.

However, the input of CEE to scrap the voluntary charters and rely totally on legislation to bring about the aims of black empowerment as perceived by them is worrisome.

BEE remains mostly outside the law

The whole point and acceptability of BEE in the past as a principle is that in the light of the country’s history, it is acceptable, and the whole point to date has been that black empowerment has not been legislated for in totality.

DTI have always empahsised this. The nearest the country has got to the criminalization issue is those who wish to defeat the principles of BEE by trickery and by “fronting”, which is deception in any terms, will be dealt with severely according to the law.

Otherwise the law as such is not over skin colour but has been kept mainly on the lines of past disadvantage and the unfairness of what 90% of the community had to put up with for years.

CEE get into the Act

So who are the Commission of Employment Equity or CEE?

It is a commission which was established in terms of section 59 (1) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) with members on the whole appointed by the minister of labour whose task it is to advise the minister on any matters relating to sectoral determinations. They are part of DOL and carry the department’s logo on their website.

Basic Conditions of Employment

CEE deals with any matter concerning basic conditions of employment; any matter arising out of the application of the BCEA and generally the effect of government policies on labour matters and conditions of employment in the public service – a massive mandate but specifically within their ambit of labour issues.

It says that BEE for all business and industry should not be voluntary, which seems stepping well outside of their mandate. So what does the minister of labour say, who appoints the CEE members?

Posted in BEE, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Deliberations reaching final stage on labour laws

Two days of parliamentary hearings and weeks of debate on the proposed Basic Conditions of Employment and the Labour Relations amendment bills were based  on the fact that the parliamentary portfolio committee on labour laws in no doubt that business in general, representative employment bodies and in many case government’s own utilities saw no benefit for the country as a whole if the new labour legislation, as it was originally drafted, had been passed in its original form.

The original issue that caused much of the furore was the labour broking issue but the draft Bills cover considerably more issues than just this matter alone, representing as they do, an overhaul on a number of contentious labour matters.

In well attended public hearings a considerable number of parties mostly with a commercial background complained that the Bills as they were originally proposed would in all likelihood set back South Africa’s investment programme; would probably also result in more jobs lost than gained and in many cases said the provisions were either counter-productive, unclearly defined and mostly unfair to employers, sufficiently so as to be legally unenforceable.

Now in mid-November, the Labour Relations amendments have reached a delicate stage where parliamentary legal teams are considering a final draft with most of the clauses now being agreed, particularly on aspects of workability and constitutionality. Their is a clear divide in discussions on the two issue: policy issues and legal issues and chairperson Elleck Nchabaleng (ANC) has been at pains to maintain this division as the committee has set about debate the legislation clause by clause. Adv Gordon and Adv Barbara Loots have been present at most meetings as members of the parliamentary legal team.

A major issue of recent has been wording in respect of the retrenchment of senior and higher paid employers and furthermore wording that would reflect a wish to unclog the CCMA from cases put before them. Another issue has been the matter where clauses have been so altered or new wording adopted that the sections concerned bear little relationship to the documents perused during public hearings.

The amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill  which was tabled in tandem seem have reached a more conclusive stage on the subject of committee deliberation.

Among the organisations making inputs originally were the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Mr Price Group, the Banking Association of SA, the SA Society for Labour Law and the Federation of Unions of SA and Cosatu.

The main thrust of Cosatu’s presentation was to inform parliamentarians that their official stance to the committee on labour broking had been revised and their insistence that the legislation before them have provisions banning labour broking in any form had been reviewed. Also, as a consequence, they were not objecting to the process of labour broking registration.

Prakashnee Govender, the Cosatu representative, however maintained that the “real employer”, not the broker, should assume all employment obligations for the worker contracted where the work was not temporary in nature.

Cosatu also  voiced the view that any trade unions should have to obtain majority support when balloting their members before embarking on industrial action, Govender stating that this constituted a “fundamental attack not only on the right to strike but also on collective bargaining” and that such amounted restrictive practices by employers.

Govender also stated that Cosatu opposed the wording that unions be held liable for damage caused during strikes but said that to allow pickets to be present on “third party premises” was welcomed.

American Chamber of Commerce who were at first was disallowed by the chair to present in their slotted programme time but subsequently allowed to present to MPs after consideration by the chair, made it quite clear that Amcham saw a great number of unintended and unfortunate consequences resulting from the Bills and called for a regulatory impact assessment prior to any such amendments. Amcham’s presentation was eventually made on a later date by a representative of General Motors in SA.

They clearly felt that it was not in South Africa’s economic interests to pursue the Bills as they stood.

AHI supported the idea provided for in the Labour Relations Act amendments of allowing balloting before engaging in a strike but noted that in their experience it would rarely be properly supervised, putting the validity of such an exercise in jeopardy. Other presentations noted that civil strife could follow such procedures as suggested.

AHI was particularly concerned that the proposals would give no benefit to small business, in fact claimed “that since the announcement of these amendments, more than 440,000 small businesses had closed their doors”.

Like most presentations, the need for some amendments were not doubted by various organisations and bodies. Most seemed to support the objectives in a broader sense but such issues as prohibition of sub-contracting; issues surrounding part-time employees becoming full time employees by virtue of the passage of time; and retrenchment conditions on higher income employees were focused upon as being counter-productive.

These were rejected as either not making economic sense, being badly worded, confusing, or, as some submissions stated, having negative or opposite effects on employment conditions. Most submissions rejected whole clauses in totality but few supplied alternative wording.

Now that two months of deliberations have taken place within the Portfolio Committee on Labour, the belief is that final drafts could be put before the National Assembly before the end of the current parliamentary session. Representing the Democratic Alliance on the labour portfolio committee is Sej Motau.

Posted in Finance, economic, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry, Uncategorized0 Comments

Parliamentary hearings on labour broking call for regulation

In its submission to the portfolio committee on labour, the Confederation of Associations in the Private Employment Sector (Capes) presented the case for labour brokers saying that they were the single biggest channel for introducing never-employed African youth into the labour market.

John Brand, a legal representative with Capes, said that an absolute ban of labour brokers was not only illegal but an impractical suggestion.   He told parliamentarians that it was difficult enough to import the necessary skills for certain development projects and at the same time deal with the “ebb and flow” of normal workplace situations without the application of such impractical kinds of law as envisaged.

Capes was joined at the hearings on the subject of amendments to the labour law by the Association of Nursing Agencies, who said that specialised labour brokers were essential in the current situation of under-staffed hospital institutions and the call for specialised health services in many cases could only be met by labour brokers.

The health situation was bad enough in South Africa, the association said, without such restrictions being place on its ability to deliver.

Capes said that at times in the labour field there was a legitimate need for temporary workers because of the natural ebb and flow of business situations, geographic factors, leave periods and temporary breakdown and downtime situations. He confirmed that regulation must apply in the cases of abuse, however.

What is required, says Brand, is regulation which, for example, stipulates that temporary employees should not be provided with terms and conditions of employment less favourable than the minimum ones given to permanent employees in the same job.

This, he said, would discourage employers from using temporary employees except when genuinely necessary to meet operational requirements.

Another possible regulation that could be employed is to put a cap on the length of time that a person is allowed to be employed temporarily in a particular position and a particular period of time therefore before being deemed in terms of the regulation as a permanent one, Brand concluded.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), said in its submissions that the contentious issues such as duration; social security; dismissal; benefits and freedom to organise and the right to associate, all of which had been debated for months, could all be tackled through proper legislative provisions.

Fedusa said it had called on the Minister of Labour to change his stance on supporting a banning of labour brokering and endorse the principle of tackling the issue through properly written regulation.

They added that the majority of brokers operate in accordance with the law and do not seek to exploit the workers. Regulations, if they are properly enforced, Capes said, would “weed out the fly-by-nighters” and this, in turn, would give the entire industry a credible reputation and satisfy the critics.

Meanwhile, private sector parties and unions have agreed with NEDLAC parties some form of legislative compromise, details at this stage being unknown and at drafting stage within the department of labour, as far as the various anchor Acts and proposed Bills to come before Parliament for amendment are concerned. It is to be assumed there will be a further round of hearings.

Posted in BEE, Finance, economic, Justice, constitutional, Labour, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry, Uncategorized0 Comments


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