Wonderful lessons learned from joint mega blitz inspections in the North West – A model to emulate
The impressive high level of compliance with various labour laws recently diagnosed during mega blitz inspections (involving joint operations) in Potchefstroom only serve to show that with more such vigilance – the workplace in the country could be a model for the world.
Even more pleasing was the thoroughness and meticulous manner with which our inspectors from various parts of the North West together with colleagues from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and South African Police Service (SAPS) performed their job.
The aim of the inspection was to target employers in the Road Freight and Logistics – Wholesale and Retail – Manufacturing as well as iron and steel industries.
Furthermore the objective of the mega blitz inspections was to establish and ensure compliance and promote inspectors’ visibility within the J B Marks Municipality.
A report on the inspections supplied to my office showed that all in all – a total of 244 highly thorough inspections were conducted.
Out of those, 170 employers were found to be compliant, while 74 failed to.
Quite clearly, the ideal situation is to have a 100 percent compliance rate, but we know it is an uphill battle and gargantuan task to achieve – almost similar to reaching the highest Mount-ux-Sources.
It comes as no surprise that our inspectors often conduct advocacy sessions at various workplace so as to improve the level of compliance before even considering punitive measures.
It is only when inspectors realise that in spite of infractions or violations having been pointed out to the employers during inspections and the firm having been given an opportunity to correct these, that there is no improvement – that contravention notices are issued.
In terms of positives resulting from blitz we can say: Employers were eager to meet with the inspectors and were very co-operative;
- Department’s visibility was enhanced and the inspectors were seen to enforce different labour laws.
- Both employers and employees were made aware of their rights and obligations in regard to the labour laws.
The flip side of the coin revealed that the most common infractions were:
- Employees were not registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF);
- No declarations with the UIF;
- Employees found not to be registered with Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act (COIDA);
- No return of earnings in line with requirement of COIDA;
- Payments of contributions to UIF not made;
- Non-compliance with Occupational Health Safety Act (OHSA); and
- Employers not paying according to the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
The above show the need for more attention and vigilance to bring about compliance.
The message to employers is to get their house in order before it is too late. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure compliance as reiterated several times by Labour Minister, Mr Thulas Nxesi.
We will not hesitate to haul such recalcitrant employers to court.
At the same time, we commend our inspectors as well as colleagues from SAPS and Home Affairs for the terrific and thankless job they did in the J B Marks Municipality.
It will be amiss of me not to acknowledge the support of the Municipality.
It is also noteworthy to state that during the operations, the Department of Home Affairs arrested 11 undocumented foreign nationals – the bulk of whom – at the road block along the N12 Route.
Speaking at the roadblock, Mr Thulasi Nxesi, Employment and Labour Minister, said the inspections wanted to see the level of compliance with labour laws ranging from the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA)to Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)as well as observance of the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
“We have already found that several truck drivers are undocumented – are not paid in terms of the collective agreements and are not registered for the unemployment insurance fund. We are warning employers to ensure that they abide by the labour laws or face the music,’’ he said.
The Minister, who was accompanied by myself and the Inspector-General, Ms Aggy Moiloa, said the operation was a sequel to the commitment by a number of ministers a few weeks ago to intensify the programme of action to deal with the employment of undocumented foreign nationals.
Colonel Thabo Mahlangu said his team had been able to arrest the undocumented foreign nationals during an intensive two-hour operation.
We maintain that employers must take responsibility for employing undocumented foreign nationals.
Mr Phumi Maphaha, Acting Chief Inspector of the Department of Employment and Labour, said following the inspection at Chubby Chick on one of the days, the company could not produce the certificate of compliance in terms of the ammonia stored at the plant. He however, said the company had promised to ensure its availability within 24 hours. He said his team was happy with the functioning condition of boilers.
Mr Maphaha expressed concern that fire-fighting equipment had been stolen, which could pose a major risk should a fire break out at the plant. He said the medical surveillance unit had issued a number of notices which would be followed up.
These joint mega blitz operations could soon become a regular occurence as the country wants to ensure that the workplace becomes a model for the world of work and posterity.
Issued by: Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour, Ms Boitumelo Moloi