30 January 2013

South Africa: Portfolio Committee Pays an Oversight Visit to Department of Labour and Promise New Laws Will Be Passed Into Law Before the End of the Year

press release

The work in progress to amend South Africa's key labour laws will be finalised by the end of November, bar any unforeseen mishaps, said chairman of Portfolio Committee on Labour Eleck Nchabeleng.

Nchabeleng said it was the strategic intention of the Portfolio Committee on Labour to ensure that the bills are passed into law before the end of 2013.

The chairman was speaking on the side-lines during the week-long oversight visit by members of the Portfolio Committee on Labour to the Department of Labour's operations and sister institutions in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour is currently engaged in an intense review of the country's labour laws. The raft of labour laws currently being amended include: the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill; the Labour Relations Amendment Bill; the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and the newly tabled Public Employment Services (PES) Bill.

Nchabeleng said after a brief recess, work would resume in the second week of February.

"We will be working closely with State law advisors and Parliamentary advisers to ensure the laws are aligned with the country's constitution," Nchabeleng said.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill were the first to undergo intense Parliamentary review including public hearings and were now being subjected to legal and constitutional scrutiny.

The committee recently invited written comments on the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and the Public Employment Services Bill, Nchabeleng said public hearings on the two latter bills are expected to be held in February.

"Our intention is complete the process this year and ensure these bills are passed into law, even means working flat throughout the year," he said.

Nchabeleng said the recent developments in the labour market as demonstrated by the intensity of strikes in the mining and agricultural sector has highlighted the need to speed-up the process of labour review.

"We welcome employers who respect the country's labour laws. Programmes that are driven by greed will always bring with them problems. Our intention is to empower the Department of Labour's inspection branch by giving them teeth to enforce labour laws," reiterated Nchabeleng.

Meanwhile, the Portfolio Committee on Labour started its oversight on Tuesday (January 29) with a visit to the Department of Labour's operations in KwaZulu-Natal with a visit to the Durban Labour Centre and Productivity SA.

The week-long oversight tour will also include visits to a Labour Centre in Port Shepstone, the Sheltered Employment Factory (SEF) in Jacobs, SEF in Pietermaritzburg, a visit to Labour Centre in Escourt, and the oversight tour will round-off on Friday with a visit to a Labour Centre in Newcastle and a meeting with management of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in Newcastle and a visit to Elinem Construction Project.

Nchabeleng said the committee's visit was a follow-up on Labour Director General Nkosinathi Nhleko's visit more than a year ago into provinces, wherein he was tasked to submit a report on the state of operations at coal face. Nchabeleng said their committee was on the current tour to "listen and observe".

Department of Labour Chief Director: Provincial Operations in KwaZulu-Natal Thembi Nene-Shezi said the visit was an honour and a privilege, which would spur the department to vigorously deliver on its mandate by providing effective and efficient labour market solutions.

Productivity SA Bongani Coka said the institution was on track with its provincial reach strategy that would see it having physical presence in all provinces. Coka said in the long-term the strategy was to have regional managers in all provinces.

"Before we put bodies, we want to create demand for our services on the ground. Despite not having offices in other provinces, we have managed to offer our service nationally using the existing contact centres," Coka said.

Productivity SA, the custodian of the county's competitiveness and productivity knowledge and information has offices in Midrand, Durban and Cape Town.

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