Labour Minister, Thulas Nxesi, says it is illegal for members of the public to conduct random labour inspections at places of employment. Nxesi and a team of inspectors are this week conducting what they call mega blitz inspections at 500 businesses in the Hospitality Sector in parts of the Western Cape.
This is to ensure Hotel and restaurant owners adhere to labour legislation. There was an outcry on social media when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) carried out visits at places of employment to check on compliance.
Nxesi says his department has pulled resources together to conduct what they call blitz inspections. He says there’s more impact when a large pool of inspectors is pulled into one province at the same time. Such campaigns have been carried out in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal since last year. He refuted as short sighted claims that they’ve been jerked into action by the EFF.
“What we’re doing now is to target certain sectors or industries where we know that there’s a lot of exploitation and I’ve said organised labour and employers who can be able to be co-operative are going to be our eyes and ears to violations. So I hear this thing that it is because of the EFF, we don’t agree with that thing but that we have our own programme which is done orderly, we don’t want chaos, we follow protocols,” says Nxesi.
Nxesi says he’s aware of the outcry by some sectors of the public against the employment of undocumented foreigners in the hospitality, farming and road freight sectors.
“That’s why in our blitz we’re working with home affairs, we are working with the police, because when we find some of those people we refer them to the right department dealing with those issues. There’s no way we can act arbitrarily, we have to respect the law, the constitution and the rights of the people. That is why now we’re working on this labour migration, considering to put those quotas,” the Minister explains.
Specialist teams are checking for compliance with occupational health and safety, the minimum wage and the UIF. Chief Inspector in the Western Cape, David Esau, says they are taking into consideration the impact of Covid on the sector.
“We want to see if the tourism sector can kick in again and that is why it is so important to see what was the impact of Covid. Can business survive, can business start up again, can the state assist in getting their businesses back up again because unemployment levels are too high? And this is the recovery process we are going through,” says Esau.
Nxesi says employers are obliged by the law to allow labour inspectors access into their work premises, failing which they face the full might of the law.