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SA opts for development of a National Employment Policy ahead of ratifying the ILO’s Employment Policy Convention 122

by lloyd last modified 2019-04-10 13:49

10 April 2019

South Africa’s National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) social partners agreed in a workshop held in Johannesburg yesterday to put on hold the signing of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) Employment Policy Convention No. 122 in favour of developing the country’s National Labour Policy first.

The Nedlac social partners were meeting with the representatives of the ILO in a validation workshop to discuss the Gap Analysis report being presented by the ILO to assess the extent to which the law and practice in South Africa is consistent with the Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (122).

Convention 122 calls upon ratifying member States to promote and engage in genuine tripartite consultations on employment policies.

It is expected that the benefit for South Africa of ratifying Convention 122 would be the State’s commitment and accountability to promoting “full, productive and freely chosen employment”, in a tripartite framework. Upon ratification South Africa would be called upon to report regularly on the effect given to its provisions, and be required to provide detailed statistical information, disaggregated by age and sex, on the labour market and on employment trends in the country.

Department of Labour Chief Director: International Relations, Sipho Ndebele said following the ILO’s Gap Analysis presentation South Africa was of the view that social partners needed more time to convene further and revisit the document.

“It is critical that we meet again as social partners and receive further inputs to close any existing gaps before we sign,” Ndebele said.

Nedlac is the vehicle by which Government, labour, business and community organisations co-operate through problem-solving and negotiation on economic, labour and development issues facing the country. The social partners were in unison during the workshop that they have a joint responsibility to deal with the country’s stubbornly high unemployment rate (especially that of youth) hovering at 27 percent.

South Africa in its efforts to meet Southern African Development Community (SADC) commitments on International Labour Standards is engaged in a ratification process of ILO Employment Policy Convention 122. The Convention requires national employment policy to be positioned as a major goal within the national agenda

The Gap Analysis report follows a request by the Department of Labour in 2015 to the ILO to conduct a gap analysis – a tool aimed at assessing a country to evaluate the efforts needed in order to be in compliance with the Convention in question. The Gap Analysis has since concluded that no legal obstacles exist that would prevent or delay consideration of the ratification of the Employment Policy Convention 122.

The Gap Analysis found that legislation such as Employment Services Act of 2014, and policy frameworks such as the New Growth Path of 2011 and the National Development Plan of 2012 are consistent with the provision of Convention 122.

According to ILO’s Employment Instrument specialist, Anna Torriente, to date Employment Policy Convention 122 has been signed by 113 countries, 24 of those in Africa and South Africa was the only BRICS country that has not signed the Convention. Torriente said Convention 122 was flexible in that it allows the country to analyse its own situation, identify gaps and implement its own labour market policy measures to deal with employment.

ILO’s Decent Work Technical Support Team specialist Christina Holmgren said ratification was based on the State’s sovereignty, and no one can force a country to sign.


Issued by:

Teboho Thejane
Departmental Spokesperson
082 697 0694

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