Social compact initiatives critical to job creation

Employment and Labour Minister, Thulas Nxesi, says the social compact initiatives announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address are critical to promoting job creation.

Nxesi said that there is a broad agreement from the social partners on eight priority interventions, and they anticipate that five or more Economic Sector compacts will come out of this process, as with the ESKOM social compact.

The Minister was speaking on Tuesday at the Cape Town City Hall during a Parliamentary debate of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The Joint Sitting of the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) today continues debating the President’s SONA and the President will respond to the debate on Thursday.

On employment retention and creation, the Minister said the expanded mandate of the department, which includes employment, is reflected in the consultations with government departments on the National Employment Policy. This is envisioned to be finalised by September 2023, and thereafter it will be submitted to Cabinet for approval.

“As Minister of Employment and Labour, we are establishing an Employment Creation Coordination Committee that is to be chaired by the Deputy President and will include Economic, Infrastructure and Employment Ministers, organised business and labour, and community organisations,” Nxesi said.

Nxesi said the committee will be tasked with ensuring intergovernmental alignment, guided by pro-employment policies; a relevant skills and educational framework; the extension of social protection to workers, and support for work seekers.

The committee will further be tasked with ensuring an ecosystem that promotes sustainable enterprise development, self-employment, and positive regulation for the informal sector, and a labour migration policy and a legislative framework that manages migration to and from South Africa to benefit the economic needs of our country.

Presidential Employment Stimulus

In support of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, Nxesi said the department and its entities continue to contribute to employment in the following manner:

  • Coordinating the pathway management network with the Presidency to support young people.
  • UIF has partnered with a number of institutions in creating and retaining jobs. Our focus is on supporting SMMEs.
  • Productivity SA will accelerate its Enterprise Development and Support Programmes, with a focus on company turnarounds.
  • The implementation of a Rehabilitation and Return to work framework in the COID Act will promote the reintegration of injured workers into employment. We also support the employment of people living with disabilities through our thirteen factories and subsidies to designated organisations.
  • As part of eliminating red tape, the Department has tabled labour law amendment proposals to NEDLAC to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses.
  • In the proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act (EEA), measures will be introduced to enhance the prohibition of unfair discrimination whilst improving the competitiveness of small businesses employing less than 49 employees.

Enforcement and Inspectorate Services

At the beginning of the year, Minister Nxesi visited farms in different provinces as part of the enforcement and inspection of adherence to labour and National Minimum Wage laws.

“As at the end of quarter three, we have conducted 236,000 inspections and referred 5,100 cases for prosecution.

“Our inspectorate recovered R150 million owed to vulnerable and migrant workers – who are often employed exactly to exploit their vulnerable status as migrants,” the minister said.

Nxesi emphasised that combating child labour is part of the daily work of the inspectorate. He added that the Durban Call to Action, adopted by the 2022 ILO Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, is a landmark in the movement against child labour.

To deal with the high number of work-related injuries, the minister said the department is amending the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1993) to increase fines and penalties to deter unscrupulous employers.

Minister Nxesi said that the findings by the department’s dedicated inspectors have resulted in the Department of Employment and Labour developing a National Labour Migration Policy which seeks to balance between four principles:

  • The perception that employment of foreign workers is being done at the expense of citizens;
  • The economic need to source and acquire global scarce and critical skills needed by the economy;
  • Protection of rights of migrants in line with international treaties and our Constitution; and
  • Locating all these within regional integration and cooperative imperatives.–

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