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You are here: Home Media Desk Speeches 2013 Welcome address by the Minister of Labour, Hon Mildred Nelisiwe Oliphant, MP, at the Jobs Summit and Jobs Fair in Potchefstroom, North West -Towards decent work for jobseekers
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Welcome address by the Minister of Labour, Hon Mildred Nelisiwe Oliphant, MP, at the Jobs Summit and Jobs Fair in Potchefstroom, North West -Towards decent work for jobseekers

by Lloyd Ramutloa last modified 2013-03-08 12:45

8 March 2013

Councillor Pinky Moloi for the Kenneth Kaunda District

The Premier of the Province Thandi Modise and your leadership

Deputy Ministers present

The Chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Labour Mr Nchabeleng

Members of the business community

Esteemed ladies and gentlemen

 

It is a great pleasure to stand here before you and welcome you to this the ninth and final in our series of Jobs Fairs and Jobs Summit. Today is also the day that we celebrate international Women’s Day and it is appropriate at this stage to say: Alibongwe!

As we hold this important event here, we have already held successful interactions in in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Western Cape and now we are here in the platinum province.  

Part of the reason that has taken us so long to come to this province was the tragic killings in Marikana – killings that should never have happened had we heeded and followed the labour laws that have been set down to avoid just this kind of strife. It was important for the province to mourn and deal with the ramifications before we took centre stage with this function.

We are mindful that the Marikana Commission of Inquiry is still deliberating on these matters and therefore would not say more than that about this tragic event that left us all reeling. However, what is done is done. We have to rise above and resolve to do things better to avoid other Marikanas – and I will get back to this subject later. 

We are gathered today in this jobs fair and summit which is just one of the many initiatives that Government has embarked on to ease the lot of many people who find themselves not only jobless, but also hopeless. But it is not just the talk shop. This is giving effect to government’s commitment in the struggle to ease the triple challenge of inequality, poverty and unemployment. This is the background against which we should view our presence here and also most of the things that we do as the government.

This initiative which is designed to help employers and potential employees find each other. Many a time we find that the employer needs a certain skill but has not the wherewithal on how to find these skills. On the other hand, there are many people out there who need jobs but lack basic soft skills like handling interviews, writing CVs and generally how to market themselves properly. These are some of the skills that some amongst us may to take for granted but for others, they can be the difference between being employed and continuing to face the struggles of life.

This administration under the stewardship of President Jacob Zuma has committed itself to make a better life for all our people. The better life becomes a reality when we restore hope to thousands of children whose lives improve because their parents have jobs. Their educational needs are taken care of which gives them a fighting chance of being productive citizens.

The better life becomes a reality when workers are no longer paid slave wages, when government steps forward and moves to protect the most vulnerable in our society. By next week Friday the Department of Labour will be gazetting the new minimum wage for forestry workers. Like sectoral determinations in other vulnerable sectors, this determination should bring much needed relief to workers who break their backs in the timber industry but again, we will be guided by inputs from all stakeholders in this process.

As Government, we are all too aware that much needs to be done to restore dignity to our people through pursuit of gainful employment. Too many people are still unemployed and to be in that state is not just about want of money as the Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen wrote: 

unemployment is more than a deficiency of income that can be made up through transfers by the state (at heavy fiscal cost that can itself be a very serious burden); it is also a source for far-reaching debilitating effects on individual freedom, initiative, and skills. Among its manifold effects, unemployment contributes to the social exclusion of some groups, and it leads to losses of self-reliance, self-confidence and psychological and physical health

 

This is the core of this programme and intervention: to bring hope and make a difference in the lives of our people.

The Department of Labour has made a commitment to “contribute to the creation of decent employment through inclusive economic growth and to respond to the strategic priorities of government through increased focus on:

·          Decent work; 

·          Public Employment Services;

·          Enhancing Inspection and Enforcement Services to effectively monitor and enforce compliance with legislation;  

·          Strengthening Social Security and

·          Strengthening the institutional capacity of the Department.

Today our focus is on decent work and Public Employment Services. We have set in motion various processes to achieve these goals including amending critical areas of legislation like the Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment. The Public Employment Services Bill and Employment Equity Amendment Bill (equal pay for equal work of the same value) have also been submitted to Parliament.

The Portfolio committee has deliberated and voted on the Basic Conditions of Employment and will be finalising the Labour Relations Bill after which they will tackle the other bills. When passed into law, all these bills are aimed at promoting sound and responsive legislation and policies to attain labour market flexibility for competitiveness of enterprises which is balanced with the promotion of decent employment.  

They are aimed at making it difficult for the situations that gave rise Marikana to occur again. Not long after that, farmworkers were up in arms demanding better wages. Government responded quickly and working through the processes allowed in our legislation, we have now amended the minimum pay to at least R105 per day, R11.66 per hour, R525 weekly or R2274.82 per month, a marked improvement.

In recognition of the hardship that some farms may have, an offer was made for exemptions. These exemptions however would only be granted if indeed the farmer can prove that they cannot afford the new minimum wage by showing us the financials as well as showing an agreement that workers have accepted the revised wage offer which is less than the prescribed minimum wage.

The farmworker strike and other unrelated labour actions around the country have led us to believe that nothing will replace collective bargaining as a way to enhance worker rights. Clearly, the interests of workers are no longer just confined to those workers but communities like De Doorns and Marikana showed us. This means the department of Labour should work with sister departments like agriculture, rural development and land affairs, economic development and others. This means we have to understand and positively listen to the voices of workers.

The strifes that we have seen happens under a cloud of unemployment and joblessness which is a serious threat to the stability achieved post 1994. This is even more so as most of those who are unemployed are young people at the prime of their lives who should be contributing to the economy.

That is why the Minister of Finance has announced a scheme to help companies that hire young people with tax incentives – a theme introduced by President Zuma in his State of the Nation Address. We acknowledge that business has the opportunities and the means. As government, our role is to create an enabling environment for business not only to thrive and make money, but also create the much-needed jobs.

But we also recognise that our role extends wider than just policy. As a result, we have directed that the Department of Labour entities invest money in a socially responsible way and I am pleased to inform you that the Unemployment Insurance and the Compensation Fund have been at the forefront of doing exactly this.

This socially responsible investing has seen a number of jobs that were threatened saved and new jobs created.Recently the UI Board recommended an amendment to the Investment Mandate of the UIF on social responsible investments. The amendment will result in an increase in the allocation of funds invested in job creation initiatives. To date, the Fund has already committed R4-billion of these funds to the IDC Bonds. The IDC utilises these funds to lend out to business that will create and save jobs as a result. This investment has led to the creation of more than 38,000 jobs.

The allocated social responsible investments re to be invested in agriculture, manufacturing, mining value chain (beneficiation), SMME’s  (entrepreneurship) and education and training in order to improve employability/job retention prospects of UIF beneficiaries.

 

In terms of indirect UIF investments and in support of the President’s commitment to improving the country’s infrastructure and to create jobs, as was articulated during his Excellency’s state of the National Address in 2012, the Department of Labour through UI branch has invested R37.8 billion in this regard. This money is invested in Government Bonds and Parastatals.

The Department through Compensation Fund (CF) has set aside R2 billion which will be invested through the Public Investment Corporation for investment in social infrastructure projects and other job creation projects.

The UIF has also contributed a further R1.2 billion to fund the Training Lay-off Scheme. The scheme is aimed at helping distressed companies and at workers who may be at risk of retrenchment. This offer includes agri-business as well. I would like to appeal to companies’ representatives here, who might be facing difficult trading conditions to consider using the funding to avoid retrenchments. 

We have also trained and empowered individuals on various artisan skills in partnership with the National Skills Fund (NSF), the various Sector Education Training Authorities (SETA’s) and Productivity South Africa.

I am furthermore privileged to announce that the Department in this province is involved with a project to specifically bring a lot more disabled people into the work environment. During the 2013/2014 financial year, the Department of Labour in this province will be taking graduates with disabilities into an internship programme.

The intention is to provide young unemployed graduates with disabilities with work experience, mentoring and coaching for a period of 12 months in order to increase their chances of absorption in the open labour market. This is in line with Government’s transformational imperatives and will also contribute to the employment equity targets in relation to employment of People with Disabilities.

We encourage all graduates with disabilities to register in our database.

Over and above this, the provincial leadership is therefore directed to engage mining companies in this area to get them to commit to taking on a certain number of youths on learnerships as a way of skilling the younger generation especially in artisanal skills. This, programme director, is progress.



I would therefore like to appeal to business to partner with us and go the extra mile in granting not only opportunities for employment but also bursaries and internships so that we can begin to deal with the problem of youth unemployment – estimated by the ILO to be affecting at least 75-million young men and women.

We have already started creating a database that will help employers and potential employees find work without having to pay for the privilege which is in the spirit of the new Public Employment Services Bill. In time, business will find that our database will provide the needed potential workers with ease. To that end, business should also register their vacancies to make the matching of jobs with skills that much easier. We have so far registered a total 288 153 work seekers and placed 6 273 while referring 167 232 to other opportunities.

As part of our commitment to job creation we have also invited various sister departments to make presentations on the various opportunities that exist linked to their departments. We have also invited financial organisation to help unlock the funding should some of you here today need this kind of service. I do hope that you will make use of these opportunities to your benefit.

In conclusion programme director, let me pay tribute to the parties that have signed a peace accord in the mining sector here in the platinum province to ensure that stability returns to the province.

This process that has been spearheaded by the Department of Mineral Resources will ensure that we do not have another Marikana again – at least not in our lifetime. Once was one too many. that our labour dispensation is responsive to the call for Decent Work which means work done under conditions of freedom of association, freedom to organise, freedom of speech, equity and fairness.

This is what the Freedom Charter called for. This is exactly what we are doing. In the words of the ANC Women’s League founding president Charlotte Maxeke who said in her Presidential address to the National Council of African Women.

This work is not for yourselves — kill that spirit of self, and do not live above your people, but live with them. If you can rise, bring someone with you’’.

Thank you.


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