NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FRIDAY, 14 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 10:00 – 12:15 Vote 31: Employment and Labour

Hon. SL Ngcobo

 

Honourable Chairperson,

This year is one of the most challenging years for employment and labour, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our youth are affected more than anyone else. As we speak today, more than 55% of our youth are unemployed. Companies are either retrenching employees or not taking on any new employees at all. This concerns us.

The unemployment rate can only be addressed if the Department ensures that employees are protected from employers who may want to abuse circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic. We also need solutions to ensure that the youth who are unemployed get assistance in seeking jobs. This will require the Department to think outside the box. There is a need for innovative solutions because the unemployment crisis is bigger than ever before, and it is trapping our youth in poverty.

The Government should consider relaxing the tax burden on employers who establish and contribute to medical aid and provident and pension fund schemes for their employees. In this challenging economy, we believe that the Government must extend more tax benefits to companies that provide training to their workers and to companies that hire youth in these challenging times.

Given the current economic challenges, support for unions should be increased to boost their capacity to protect workers. In this regard, we urge support for the CCMA, to ensure that companies that try to abuse their employees through the Covid-19 situation are brought to book.

It is concerning that the Government wants to downplay other causes of youth unemployment, such as the issue of foreign nationals who compete with our youth for jobs. At times, it appears that some companies hire more foreign nationals than South Africans because they do not want to comply with basic conditions of labour.

We must take steps to protect our youth. Labour laws must be enforced to make it expensive for these companies to overlook our youth. We appreciate that the Budget provides for compliance inspections and that 90% of companies that are not compliant will be given notices and dealt with according to our laws.

We also welcome the Budget provision for increased awareness of employment laws through advocacy sessions. All these initiatives must protect vulnerable employees, increase safety and ensure fairness in the workplace. The workplace must be regulated for the benefit of workers. For this to materialise, there is a need for strategic leadership, management and support in the Department, in particular, and in Government, in general.

Based on the importance of this Department in the protection of millions of employees throughout the country, the IFP supports this Budget.

Hon Ngcobo, MP