Labour on annual Labour National Inspectors Conference

ILO advice the Department of Labour's inspectorate to help formalise the 'informal economy'

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has called on the Department of Labour's inspection and enforcement services (IES) to extend its services to the informal sector � to help the sector transition from informal to formal.

ILO Specialist, Social Dialogue and Labour Administration Decent Work Team for Southern & Eastern Africa, Limpho Mandoro told a Department of Labour National Inspectors Conference in Durban today at the Olive Convention Centre that the informal economy in South Africa was growing at a rapid pace and the sector can no longer be ignored.

Mandoro cautioned and advised though that the Department of Labour needed to adopt a progressive approach towards infusing and subjecting the informal sector in the application of legislation.

According to Mandoro the department need to respond by instituting own structural reforms to address compliance with labour laws in the informal economy. He said the Department needed to develop an understanding of the needs of the informal economy and start building strategic partnerships by developing new partnerships.

Mandoro said Stats SA's fourth quarter labour force survey statistics showed that the informal sector employed some 4, 468,00 people.

He cited among the challenges facing the labour inspection and informal economy the exclusion of informal economy from application of legislation, the limited financial and human resources this calls for austerity measures which require a 'lean' civil service with expectation to do more.

In 2015 the International Labour Conference of the ILO took a resolution on recommendation no: 204 concerning the Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy. The focus was on the provision of extension of rights, protection and incentives for informal workers and informal business and recognise the need for a friendly legal and policy environment in the sector.

Mandora said the Department of Labour need to raise awareness on compliance with labour laws and embark on persuasion initiatives. He also called for self-regulation � with a focus on peer pressure and teaming up with other social partners like unions, cooperatives community groups, the no-governmental organisations and employer organisations.

Department of Labour Director-General Thobile Lamati emphasised that the mandate of the department, that of regulating the labour market was not going to change anytime soon. Lamati reiterated that in the same breath the inspectorate also has a mandate to protect workers, especially the vulnerable. Lamati said for years we have been talking about the changing nature of work. Now we talk about the future of work. The reality is that work has changed influenced by a number of dynamics including technology.

The challenge is how do we positon ourselves and be up to keep up with changing technologies, he said the department has realised the need to turn its inspectorate into a techno-savvy branch, inspectors may now need to also use drones to conduct inspections and gather intelligence.

Lamati said: technology is here - and it is here to stay. We need embrace it. If not, the vision of ensuring that we protect the vulnerable workers will not happen if we use the traditional ways of doing work. We do not want our vision of protecting vulnerable workers to become a mirage.

Source: Government of South Africa