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Entities and programmes that help labour department work

IOL - OPINION / 25 JULY 2019 - 18:21 / MICHAEL BAGRAIM

The Department of Labour oversees six public entities.

First, we have the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which is governed by separate legislation and covers payment to individuals who are dismissed, retrenched, on maternity leave, retiring and so on.

Second, we have the Compensation Fund, which covers individuals who are injured on duty or have to be laid off because of the injury sustained while on duty.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration is one of six public entities overseen by the Department of Labour.

Third is the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which handles disputes such as dismissals or non-payment of wages.

Fourth, there is the National Economic Development and Labour Council, which covers the negotiation between the big trade unions, government and large business. The council has representatives from the small business sector.

Fifth, we have Productivity South Africa, which is specifically mandated to look at productivity at the workplace and, on occasion, at private businesses individually.

Last, we have Supported Employment Enterprises which are equivalent to the old assisted employment factories. It was set up to assist people from the disabled community gain meaningful employment.

The Department of Labour also has various programmes such as Administration, Inspection and Enforcement Services and Public Employment Services.

Another strategic objective for the Department is Labour Policy and Industrial Relations.

The Inspection and Enforcement Services programme is under resourced and there is a five-year target for this to be increased by 30%.

The Public Employment Services is likewise aiming to register more work seekers and to obtain greater opportunities. It is also looking at employment counselling as well as providing more learning opportunities.

The Labour Policy and Industrial Relations programme is looking at employment equity in the labour market, and is trying to have at least 40% of middle and senior management made up of black people.

Equally, the department is aiming to promote sound labour relations, and there is a five-year target to develop programmes to address workplace conflict through improved communication, career mobility, skills development and fairness in workplaces.

Unprotected strikes are being targeted and the department is aiming to decrease them by 50% over the next five years. Hopefully the department is considering research labour market trends in order to monitor the impact of the labour legislation on job creation and the retrenchment figures.

The National Treasury has developed guidelines and is looking at cases of irregular, fruitless and wasteful and unauthorised expenditure.

Unfortunately, the Department of Labour has been a failure in this regard over the past five years.

The auditor-general has given negative reports every year; every year the director-general and his commissioners have promised to sort this out.

The Inspection and Enforcement Services is lacking, and the department is promising to inspect at least 220 000 employers over the next year.

Non-compliant employers will receive notices under the relevant labour legislation within 14 calendar days of the inspection.

Above this, the Department is hoping to register 700 000 work seekers on the system. It has a second target to register 90 000 work and learning opportunities a year.

Labour Policy and Industrial Relations has received the largest share of the budget, which amounts to R1.2 billion. Unfortunately, Inspection and Enforcement Services is going to receive a much lesser amount despite the fact that we don’t have enough inspectors in the field.

It is recognised there is a mismatch between available job opportunities and available skills. At last, the department has recognised that this is a major driver of unemployment. The reconfiguration of the department to include employment will lead to an extension of its mandate, which will strain its budget.

It has also been reported that there has been a larger attempt to register bogus trade unions merely to represent aggrieved employees at CCMA proceedings at a fee. The new Registrar of the Department of Labour will be looking carefully into the registration systems.

There are plans afoot to look into the key areas for future work and the government is at least starting to consider the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The legislation will obviously have to be reviewed again in order to accommodate the new forms and types of work they are probably going to see over the next few years.

The National Minimum Wage Commission is assessing the effect of the national minimum wage on job creation and job retention.

This will probably be reported back to the Department of Labour in the fourth quarter of the year.

There have been various amendments to our labour legislation, some of which have not become operative as yet.

* Michael Bagraim is a labour lawyer.

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LINK : https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/opinion/entities-and-programmes-that-help-labour-department-work-29762865

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