The Department of Labour has said that it is highly impressed with the turnaround in labour law compliance in the agricultural sector in regard to the minimum wage.
During the month of May, which is Workers’ Month, the Department of Labour embarked on blitz inspections across the province to ensure that employees are complying with labour laws. During these inspections, labour inspectors were accompanied by various stakeholders, looking into basic conditions of employment, occupational health and safety, unemployment insurance as well as conducting workplace walk-abouts.
Provincial Chief Inspector, Manelisi Luxanda, said that the agricultural sector previously had a reputation for not being compliant with the national minimum wage, however, during the past month inspections have revealed that they have turned things around, even though this was not the case for all sectors.
“We visited the manufacturing sector in Botshabelo where we came across many complaints from employees from the two factories we visited. Thus we decided that on 20 and 21 June 2019, we will be conducting a blitz targeting Botshabelo and the manufacturing factories in the surrounding area, including Selosesha,” said Luxanda.
Another sector which was a challenge to the department, was retail shops owned by foreigners. The owners of the shops were often not there during the inspections and they often did not comply with minimum wage law.
Luxanda added that they noted that small towns had a pattern of high levels of non-compliance regarding labour laws. “All those that did not comply, have been issued with compliance notices and when they expire, we will give them another notice. Should they still fail to comply, we are taking them to court to be prosecuted. So we have achieved what we wanted to and these blitz inspections have given us a clue in terms of where we need to tighten the screws,” he said.
Acting Chief Director: Provincial Operations, Emily Maneli, noted that the department needed to do more to ensure that employers and employees in the province are well informed about labour laws and that various changes have occurred. “I’m a bit worried about non-compliance of Unemployment Insurance. In both Phuthaditjhaba and Harrismith employers were all not complying, so we need to focus on these areas going forward,” concluded Maneli.