28 November 2012

South Africa: Parliamentary Body Urges Department of Labour to Improve Inspectorate

press release

A newly-released report by the portfolio committee on Labour has recommended that the Department of Labour should speed up the specialisation of the inspections and enforcement services in order to deal with different challenges in the workplace.

The report, which was tabled at the portfolio committee in Cape Town on Wednesday, follows an oversight visit by the committee early this month.

Teboho Thejane, Chief Director Provincial Operations in the Western Cape, said the committee indicated that areas of specialisation for inspectors should focus especially on vulnerable sectors such as agriculture and domestic.

"The department is in the process of finalising job descriptions in each specialisation category, including specialising in Agriculture, Domestic and Security sector as the demands on compliance differ per sector. Occupational Health and Safety will also be categorised according to areas of speciality such as construction and engineering, He said.

The presentation came just 24 hours after labour minister, Mildred Oliphant, said the December 4 deadline by the farmworkers for her department to review wages and other conditions of employment was "impractical" as the department the department is still conducting public hearings in this regard.

The Minister also appealed to workers to refrain from violence that characterised the strikes. The department has already conducted public hearings in the Western Cape as well as KwaZulu-Natal, with more to follow in the next 13 days across the country.

Thejane said going forward; the committee recommended that the department should focus on quality inspections, which address holistic assessment of the working environment as opposed to inspection which focus on administrative compliance.

Thobile Lamati, chief inspector for the department, said the code-of-conduct for inspectors has been used to discipline those "involved in shady" deals. He cited an example of an inspector who worked for the department and at the same time acted as an "adviser" to the employer.

Lamati said as part of the specialisation route, norms and standards have been developed on how inspections are to be conducted. "The implementation thereof is a process that is continuously being assessed by the provincial offices and the relevant business unit managers," he said.

Also present at the presentation were Sam Morotoba, Deputy Director General for Public Employment Services and Thembinkosi Mkalipi, Chief Director for collective bargaining.

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