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Dept has 1,000 inspectors to probe labour issues at 2 million companies – Nxesi

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Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has come under fire for his lack of pro-activeness in addressing issues regarding the employment of foreign nationals.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

MINISTER of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi has revealed that there is an existing practice of illegally employing foreign nationals in the country with an intention of exploitation and bypassing labour policies.

Nxesi came under fire recently for his lack of pro-activeness in addressing issues of employment of foreign nationals, which saw EFF leader Julius Malema embarking on visits to restaurants in Gauteng to inspect the hiring of foreign workers.

The minister pointed out that the employment and immigration acts prohibit employers from appointing foreigners until they are able to produce work documentation.

“The department can attest that there are illegal recruitment practices happening,” said Nxesi.

“Some employers continue to employ especially undocumented foreign nationals. Our citizens continue to subject them to inferior labour standards; do not declare them in their books and do not cover them in terms of existing social protection measures such as the UIF, pension fund and compensation fund.

“These practices are illegal, they are unacceptable and it is something that is pre-occupying us daily in the Department of Employment and Labour.

“The Employment Services (ES) Act, Act No 4 of 2014, Sections 8 and 9 are very specific in terms of the roles of the department working with Home Affairs, in managing the employment of foreign nationals.

“The ES Act complements the Immigration Act 2002, in that it prohibits an employer from employing a foreign national in the territory of the Republic of South Africa prior to such a foreign national producing the applicable and valid work visa issued by the Department of Home Affairs.

“Section 9 provides for a list of prohibited acts in respect of foreign nationals, the offences and the applicable fines.”

Nxesi said the department has just over 1,000 inspectors tasked with investigating labour issues in over two million companies in the country.

“Only people who are well trained and have the legal mandate to enforce compliance with the labour laws. The department currently has just above a thousand inspectors looking after more than two million companies.

“The Employment and Labour inspectors are assisted by inspectors within Minerals and Energy as we do not have jurisdiction in mines, and various inspectors under bargaining councils registered with the department.

“The department also has other bodies such as the CCMA that play a major role in terms of mediation and arbitration of disputes that arise in the process and the Labour Court.

“The department also participates in joint inspections organised with the SAPS, Home Affairs, Road Traffic Management and Customs that have proven to be more successful in dealing with various transgressions,” added Nxesi.

He said that the department would work with Home Affairs to address South Africans’ expectations about access to work, given rising unemployment and perceptions that foreign nationals, particularly illegal immigrants, are distorting labour market access.

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