Submission to the Labour Portfolio Committee on the Labour Budget Vote
April 1998

We welcome the opportunity to make a brief submission on various aspects of the Labour Budget Vote. We wish to focus on four points.

1. Firstly, the overall increase of 18.35% is welcome. We note particularly the significant increases in the amounts allocated to Human Resources Development and to Labour Policy. However, to justify such increases, and to warrant further increases in future budgets, the department is going to have to demonstrate that it is making definite progress in reducing the appalling levels of unemployment, and enhancing the social and material benefits accruing to those fortunate enough to be employed

2. The increase in the allocation to the CCMA is well-deserved, as this body has clearly had a positive effect on labour relations and has succeeded in substantially reducing the number and the impact of workplace disputes However, it is well-known that the CCMA's caseload has reached levels which threaten to exceed its capacity. An even larger increase in its allocation might therefore be warranted

3. In light of the fact that the Unemployment Insurance Fund is severely underfunded, and that so many people rely on this fund to ease the burden of losing their jobs, it is disturbing to note that the State's contribution to the UIF remains unchanged at R7 million. This is a very low figure which, in real terms, is diminishing rather than increasing, as is clearly needed.

4. The sum set aside for Work Centres for Disabled and Workshops for the Blind shows a slight decrease from the previous year. The decrease is attributed to an improvement in the efficiency with which these facilities are being run, and to a reprioritisation of objectives. While greater efficiency is always welcome, the savings achieved need to be ploughed back into similar work since it is undeniable that there are many disabled and blind people who are not being catered for. We would like to see a concerted effort by the department to expand its efforts in this direction, rather than what appears to be an attempt to economise at the expense of a seriously disadvantaged sector of society

Mike Pothier
Research Officer
16th April 1998