Labour department finds widespread disregard for labour laws in Western Cape’s hospitality sector

26 January 2022 by Jonisayi Maromo 

Pretoria – The Department of Employment and Labour’s mega inspection blitz, which began on Monday, has revealed a compliance with labour laws of only 42% in the Western Cape’s vast hospitality sector.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi was to join the team of departmental inspectors in Sea Point, Cape Town, in the ongoing blitz to ensure the enforcement of the labour legislation within the hospitality sector.

“On the first day of the mega-blitz (Monday), the department conducted 118 inspections, with 50 employers complying and 68 non-complying,” the department said.

The following areas of non-compliance were identified by the inspectors:

• Non-payment of overtime worked

• Non-compliance with Covid-19 protocols

• Unemployment Insurance contributions not paid to the fund

• Employer not producing particulars of employment – contracts

• Occupational Health and Safety Risk assessments not produced.

Aggy Moiloa, inspector-general of the Department of Employment and Labour, said the inspection blitz would continue in other provinces over the next few months and that some of the inspections would target “other vulnerable sectors” in addition to the hospitality sector.

Moiloa explained that the strategy was to focus on “problematic sectors” on a province-by-province basis.

She added that in addition to the blitz, the department was planning to host a hospitality sector seminar in the coming weeks as part of its education and advocacy efforts.

Western Cape Provincial Chief Inspector David Esau said inspectors remained on track to visit 500 workplaces by the end of the week to examine all facets of the department’s legislation.

Esau highlighted that some bed and breakfast establishments refused to comply with departmental requests for access as their gates remained locked and officials could not enter.

Those businesses would be visited again, this time with the assistance of the SAPS.

Esau said three businesses that employ foreign nationals were asked to provide proof of valid documents, which will be referred to the Department of Home Affairs for verification.

“The other issue we discovered was unpaid TERS (Covid-19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme) benefits to employees for the months of October 2020 to December 2020, and January 2021 to March 2021. The matter is currently being investigated by the department,” said Esau.

During the blitz, Nxesi lamented the continued non-unionisation of workers, saying the lack of union structures in some workplaces was making the work of the department difficult.

Nxesi said unions exist to protect workers and they take immediate action when problems arise. He added that the hospitality sector was problematic because there were no proper bargaining structures.

“I hope employers will recognise the existence of unions in the hospitality sector so that appropriate structures of engagement can be established to stabilise the labour market,” said Nxesi.

According to Nxesi, there are also concerns about the prevalence and abuse of human rights, including assaults on the workers.

Last week, the Department of Employment and Labour announced that its inspection and enforcement services, accompanied by the Department of Home Affairs and the SAPS in the Western Cape, would embark on week-long mega-blitz inspections targeting the hospitality sector including hotels, bed and breakfast facilities and restaurants.

The government’s announcement of the labour law enforcement blitz came a day after leader of the EFF Julius Malema hogged the public discourse after visiting restaurants in Gauteng to “inspect” the ratio of local to non-South African employees.

Source: IOL at