HON MB GWALA MPL
When the IFP talks about workers day it does not talk just for mere political posturing and grandstanding but we do it with commitment, since the inception of the IFP and the IFP President became a leading figure in the issue of workers’ rights long before 1994. He has fought for the rights of the workers for his entire life.
To substantiate this is that when Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was a Chief Executive Councillor of the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, he drafted a request for establishment of trade unions which the executive council delivered to the former South African Prime Minister John Vorster, and that KwaZulu Government became deeply involved in the bringing peace in big workers strikes which took place in Durban in 1973, which became a turning point in labour relations in this country.
1st of May was made a holiday for KwaZulu Government servants long before the dawn of democracy in 1994. Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi with Professor Lawrence Schlemmer founded the Institute for industrial of black workers because, he understood the trade unions were not only necessary for the protection of workers rights, but that they could wielded significant political influence.
Because of his efforts in support of black workers, he was awarded together with the late trade unionist Dr Neil Aggett, the George Meany Human Rights Award by the largest trade union in the world, the American Federation of Labour in the United States of America (AFL-CIO). This is a clear indication that the IFP is not a Johnny-come-lately in the field of workers.
The IFP has always been vocal about high rate of unemployment in South Africa and this issue of joblessness has not received much needed attention from the ANC led government. It is our concern that 39 % of unemployed people in this country have never worked before. The figure amongst young people who are unemployed is sitting at 60.3 %.
It is concerning that the annualised employment growth in South Africa of 4.8 % is double that of employment growth rate which stands at 2.4%. In other words, if the trend persists and no drastic action on the part of government to create employment opportunities, the National Development Plan goal of reducing unemployment by 6% by 2030 is unattainable.
The persistence joblessness amongst young people who have completed matric, those who have graduated and those who dropped out from schools for a variety of reasons are a cause for serious concern. This is also exacerbated by a demand for work experience from both the government and the private sector.
Despite the amendment of the Labour Relations Act in 2010 and the High Court Ruling on the 13th of July 2013 that gave employees hired by labour brokers benefits if they remain employed by companies for more than three months, labour brokers remain the main cause of unemployment as employees hired through this process are easily displaced from their place of employment.
The minimum wage proposed by the government of R20 per hour is not a living wage and is far below the daily expenses of many workers that include transport to and from work and daily subsistence provision. The IFP supports President Cyril Ramaphosa about this proposal that it is the beginning, but the IFP further proposes that there must be sectoral minimum wage.
The IFP therefore believes that it doesn’t make sense to more than 60.3 % of young people and 26.7 % of the population of this country to celebrate this day when they cannot put food on their table.
The IFP demands that:
1. A tax in-service schemes for all employers who absorb and train young people and make them permanent employees in their places of employment
2. Complete abolishment of job for pals in the form of cadre deployment
3. A complete abolishment of labour brokers
4. A compulsory in-service training and internship programs for all recent graduates. This could be done through tax in-service mechanisms to all the companies who volunteer to take on graduates for a period of not less than two years.
5. The government EPWP programme stipend is a pittance to what the people who live in abject poverty are subjected into. Whilst the intervention is noble but it is not sufficient as a real poverty intervention strategy. We demand an increase in this stipend to take account inflation measures and increase in the prices of basic food stuff.
6. A joint interdepartmental program between the Department of Labour and Department of Basic Education on the revival of Adult Basic Education and Skills training to all school drop outs. Such programs should be linked to skills that are demanded by the job market and should target those people who cannot be taken by the mainstream TVET Colleges.
7. We demand that the creation of a National Database of all who actively looking for employment and that unemployment stipend should be given to those who are proven to be actively seeking employment.
8. We demand that the Department of Labour create Youth Employment centres in all nine provinces and in all regions where every young person register and be known to be looking for employment.
9. We believe that the government alone cannot be a panacea to unemployment solution. We therefore demand that self-help and self-reliance programs be funded by Ithala Bank as a way of creating self-employment especially amongst the youth.
I thank you