COSATU is perturbed and alarmed by the Household Financial Wellness Index released by both the University of South Africa and Momentum that shows that the country is likely to lose up to one million jobs by the end of the year if the stagnant economic growth is not addressed.
This is worrying because government so far has remained indecisive in the face of the massive retrenchments that are affecting all sectors of the economy. COSATU reiterates its call for a Jobs Summit that will engage on how to stop job losses, create new jobs, support the unemployed; and ultimately formalise the informal sector.
The Jobs Summit can assist in allowing all social partners to work together and come out with common positions on how to deal with issues like trade deficit, employment creation and the overall local economic activity. We can also explore ways of finding common ground in industrial policy and incentive measures to create and increase local manufacturing capacity.
We all need to discuss how to give incentives like tax relief targeted at low-income workers, the poor and companies in distress. This will include COSATU’s proposals on the idea of an Employer of Last Resort (ELR). We will also place on the table proposals regarding the role of the SOEs in the creation of decent jobs.
The big problem in this country with regard to protecting and creating jobs, is that government departments operate in silos specially the economic cluster. We have also seen the phenomenon of political deployees leaving the interpretation and implementation of policy to bureaucrats, who also have their own political interests that are not necessarily aligned to those of the ruling party the ANC. There is also no concerted effort to work with other social partners and stakeholders to find solutions to the economic crisis.
Whilst, we are happy with some government’s efforts to save jobs through trade and industry and IDC, the IDC has for example saved 18 000 jobs, we need a move away from this piecemeal approach that is currently being used.
Government needs to provide more funding for these institutions and they need to ensure that they work in a seamless fashion. We also want the Labour and Economic Chapter of the NDP to be reviewed. The NDP that was supposed to be a vision document and a living document is not currently helping to solve the major problem of unemployment.
Nothing will be achieved under a macro-economic framework that is predicated on the Neo- liberal paradigm whose tenets include amongst others trade liberalisation, financial liberalisation; calls for the limited role of the state in the economy, Fiscal Austerity, tight monetary policy and central bank independency.
What is now clear is that South Africa cannot sorely rely on foreign direct investment to cure all of our economic ills.
COSATU also reiterates its call for decisive state intervention in strategic sectors of the economy, including through strategic nationalisation and state ownership. We are worried that the state is refusing to use a variety of macro-economic and other levers at its disposal, to regulate and channel investment in the job intensive areas of the economy. We need more effective deployment of all state levers to advance industrialisation and the creation of decent work on a large scale.
We are also tired of seeing workers retirement monies invested in vanity projects and sectors that only create few millionaires and billionaires, while workers starve. Also central to addressing the current unemployment and job losses is to find a solution to the ongoing investor strike and capital flight because many of these companies are taking their profits off shore and the country is losing billions in revenue.
Sizwe Pamla, the National Spokesperson for COSATU