Time to formalise taxi industry and ensure good working conditions – Deputy Minister of Labour Holomisa

NOVEMBER 26, 2014

The move towards the formalisation of the taxi sector as well as the protection of its workers should be the most important campaign to rally around, Deputy Minister of labour, Phathekile Holomisa told scores of people in East London on Wednesday.

He was addressing an Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) Seminar for the taxi industry under the theme: “Making the taxi sector part of the mainstream interventions.” 

“In our attempt to advance towards greater formality, the protection of our workers must be one of the major clarion calls that we rally around. It makes no sense that we invest hundreds of thousands of rands into very expensive vehicles and we ask our workers to exhaust themselves to the point where our vehicles become a threat unto themselves. Just as important as a fully functional brake system is in protecting your assets, so is the need that your drivers or employees enjoy good working conditions,” he said.

Holomisa said: “he was looking forward to a day where South Africans who are excluded from the formal economy live in informal settlement depend on social services which are either absent and or of poor quality also experience a better life.

“We are mindful of the fact that the sector faces a number of challenges. We are mindful of the fact that the sector at this juncture probably stands at the most important structural shift in its history – its movement to greater formality.

“This transformation however, cannot happen in the absence of our commitment to decent work. We are alive to the realisation that this is not a walk that you can walk outside of the other challenges the sector faces or that you can walk this walk alone,” he said.

The deputy minister said the seminar serves as a commitment to the realisation of decent work in the taxi sector, therefore,  the Department of Labour stands ready to assist, but “this also requires commitment from your side that you should be willing to work with us across all areas of the labour regime. 

“I therefore, believe that this seminar serves as another step towards safeguarding the rights of workers in the taxi sector. Social partners must work together to achieve the Constitutional objectives of ensuring that all workers have a right to fair labour practice and have access to an environment which is not harmful to their social well-being,” he said.

“I hope that the commitments that we shall all declare today will be translated into tangible actions that will yield positive results in the foreseeable future,” Holomisa said.

Stakeholders present included the SA transport and Allied Workers Union; the SA National Taxi Council; Top Six Taxi Management and the SA National Taxi Drivers Association.

Thobile Lamati, the departments’ Inspection and Enforcement  Services Deputy Director-General, said the department has taken a conscious decision to speak to important stakeholders on a number of issues. He said the summit was a recognition of the critical role played by the taxi industry in the economy and was  one of the social partners that the Department of Labour was dealing with.

“Beyond the boundaries of Nedlac we consistently engage with all our stakeholders including the taxi industry on labour market issues and hear the challenges they face,” Lamati said.

Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) Senior Commissioner, Nowethu Ndiki, said it was important for the taxi industry to familiarise itself with the laws dealing with dispute resolution as there were many cases being referred to the organisation involving unfair dismissals and unfair suspensions.

In the 2012/13 financial year, a total of 814 cases were referred to the CCMA nationally and most of those revolved around unfair dismissals and suspensions.

“What is critical”, she said “is that employees should be given a chance to explain their side of the story”.