Thursday, October 31, 2013

COSATU's Response to South African Employment Statistics

COSATU’s response to employment statistics

30 October 2013

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the recently released Quarterly Labour Force Survey report for the third quarter of 2013.

The report shows that unemployment in the third quarter this year fell to 24.7%, from 25.6% in the second, increasing the number of employed people by 308,000. The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have lost hope of finding any kind of work, fell 1.2 percentage points to 35.6% in the same quarter.

However it is still early to celebrate as unemployment is still very high. Such high unemployment rates aggravate all the social problems which we see more and more – violent community protests, crime, corruption, xenophobia and the collapse of social and moral values. Such a level of unemployment is not just a personal and family disaster but a national catastrophe!

It is also worrying that the employed population is concentrated in the Elementary and Sales and services occupations, with shares of employment amounting to 21,7% and 14,7% respectively. Very few persons were employed in Skilled agriculture occupation (0,4%).

It is even more worrying that the Manufacturing and Construction were the industries with the largest job losses down by 32 000, 13 000 and 11 000 jobs respectively.

Informal sector employment decreased by 39 000 jobs between second Quarter of 2013 and third of 2013 mainly due to job losses in the Manufacturing and Construction industries the report says.

The only explanation from Stats SA gives for these worrying figures is that there is a seasonal effect. This is proof of the impact of the rapid casualisation of labour, which can lead to much bigger rises and falls in the unemployment rate. We should remember this exploitation of workers when we celebrate a rise in employment in December.

The report further says that approximately 3,3 million of the 10,4 million youth aged 15–24 years were not in employment, education or training (NEET) in the third quarter of 2013, which highlights the vulnerability of this group. The youth who are categorised as NEET are considered to be disengaged from both work and education. This is upsetting to the matriculants who started their examination yesterday, 28 October 2013 with the hope of either furthering their education or looking for employment.

Government must expand the FET sector to accept 1 million learners per annum by 2014, compared to the current 400 000 per annum.

This will in turn reduce the youth in the NEET, by extending their stay in the education and training system, so that they acquire basic and high-level cognitive skills. In this way we can be able to curtail the rising number of young people looking for employment and those that are in the NEET category.

Economic policy shift

These statistics prove that we are already feeling the effects of the National Development Plan’s policies of deindustrialization.

COSATU is convinced that to reverse the job losses, we need an economic shift from one based on the export of raw materials and capital-intensive sectors to one that is labour-intensive, based on manufacturing industry and meeting the basic needs of our people. We can do this by urgently rolling out the Industrial Policy Action Plan II and the progressive aspects of the New Growth Path in order to activate and accelerate the five key job drivers:
• Infrastructure development;
• Labour-absorbing activities in all sectors’;
• Green economy initiatives;
• Developing the social economy and public services;
• Rural development

COSATU believes that in order to create an adequate number of sustainable new jobs we badly need, the government must show that it is forging ahead with practical implementation and adequate resourcing of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and the Infrastructure Development Plan announced in last year’s State of the Nation Address, and ensure that all levers and institutions of state, including local procurement, and investment by state entities, are used to maximise employment and diversify the economy.

Lastly, we continue to support IPAP’s continuing emphasis on policy instruments like the designation of sectors for local procurement, not the NDP that focuses on low value added service such as travel and tourism, and call centre operations and thus creating low-paying precarious jobs. These interventions have resulted in a turn-around in the clothing, textiles and leather sector that was almost annihilated by earlier neoliberal trade policies. This is a clear indication that conscious interventions by the state can save and create more jobs in the economy.
Vusumuzi Bhengu (Shopsteward Editor)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Streets

P.O. Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: + 27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1340
Fax: +27 11 339-6940
Mobile: +27 71 313 4870
Twitter: @Vusibhengu
Facebook: Vusumuzi Martin Bhengu

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