Earlier this morning, the ANC representatives on the Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions decided to block my proposal to extend compensation fund coverage to domestic workers.
The DA believes that domestic workers should receive compensation when they are injured at work or when they cannot work any longer due to injuries sustained at work.
All other categories of non-military workers are covered by the compensation fund, yet domestic workers continue to be excluded.
We want to rectify this problem as soon as possible.
There is no sensible reason to discriminate against domestic workers in this way. Every worker deserves fair coverage and fair treatment. In fact, the International Labour Organisation’s declaration on domestic work finalised in July 2011 calls for all domestic workers to be treated equally to other categories of workers. It is remarkable that government has not yet ratified this declaration.
The ANC members of the committee used a technicality to justify their decision to block our proposal, saying that the department of labour had already expressed an intention to submit legislation dealing with this issue. This is technically correct as per the rules of the committee, but, in reality, it is a nonsensical excuse. The Department of Labour has stated an intention to address this issue for many years, yet no progress has been made. No draft legislation on this issue has ever been submitted by the department of labour. It is therefore false to suggest that legislation is pending. Words are not a supplement for action.
The fact of the matter is that the DA wants to address this issue now - to help domestic workers who continue to suffer under a labour dispensation that does not take their needs seriously. The ANC is purposefully obstructing this proposal from going forward, because they know it will put the spotlight on their failure to address this issue for many years.
I am going liaise with the Minister of Labour to determine progress in addressing this issue and drafting actual legislation. If she concedes that no progress has been made, I will take my proposal back to the Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions.
If the committee refuses to reconsider, the DA will call on the Speaker of the House to take the committee to task. It seems that the main responsibility of this committee has devolved into blocking good DA proposals with technicalities.
The time for stalling is over. Domestic workers need urgent action on this issue. People are getting injured and sick at work, and are forced to stop working without compensation. Parliament’s failure to act on this is putting the livelihoods of domestic workers at risk. And that cannot be tolerated.