The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) is calling on the government to convene an urgent meeting with all the country’s social partners to deal with the job crisis.
The call comes at the back of an increase in South Africa’s unemployment rate, which is currently sitting at 29%.
The union is accusing the ANC-led government’s macro and microeconomic policies for the jobs bloodbath.
“However, one of the glaring challenges is the protracted investment strike that the private sector has embarked on over the past two decades. This, coupled with the ANC’s neo-liberal agenda is directly responsible for destroying jobs, and severely de-industrializing our country,” reads the statement issued on behalf of Numsa’s General Secretary Irvin Jim.
Numsa accuses the private sector of exploiting Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act to justify retrenchment of workers in the name of restructuring and re-organizing. “Today’s global distressed economic situation and South Africa’s poorly performing economy, such as the contraction of the GDP in the first quarter of this year by 3.2%, is then used as ammunition by these companies to retrench workers. It is against this background that Numsa is demanding that government must decisively intervene to stop what we regard as retrenchment patterns that are driven by the greed of the bosses to make money on the back of this global crisis and South Africa’s economic recession.”
It’s also expressed irritation at South Africa’s complacent attitude towards private sector corruption. The union is also concerned over what it perceives as pending privatization of state-owned entities (SOEs).
“For instance, with government unbundling and its full-blown implementation of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPP) Programme in the immediate, an estimated 7 000 jobs will be destroyed at Eskom. If the IPP plans are implemented unaltered as they stand, no less than 100 000 jobs will be lost in the province of Mpumalanga because of the closure of coal-fired power stations, which contribute to the local economy of that province. This has been confirmed by the CSIR and KPMG. We can also expect even more job losses at South African Airways, following the departure of former GCEO, Vuyani Jarana.”
Numsa wants all trade union federations, unions, and civil society to participate in the proposed debate on jobs.
“This discussion must be facilitated by collectively agreed upon facilitators, approved by all stakeholders. Together, we must discuss job creation, and job security because these are issues of national importance, and find solutions,” the union adds.
It also wants issues of ownership and control of the economy discussed at the talks to come up with a job-led industrial strategy that must not only defend and create jobs but also prepare South Africa for the Fourth Industrial Revolution