Vague Gordhan asked to clarify wage subsidy appeal
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is being “vague” over the proposals for a youth wage subsidy, which he suggested last week, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Sunday.
“The DA seeks clarity on treasury job creation proposals,” Member of Parliament Dion George said.
“I have requested to meet with him as soon as possible to obtain further clarity on whether he intends to broaden his proposal for a wage subsidy into a wider proposal for reform.”
He said the youth wage subsidy was “a limited initiative” to circumvent the impact of the current labour market.
George said it was no surprise that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) had called for Gordhan’s dismissal last week.
“We hope that the minister stands firm in the face of growing pressure from the unions.”
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said last week that the union rejected the proposal for a youth wage subsidy—proposed by the Treasury—as it amounted to “bribing bosses so that they can exploit young workers at the expense of older workers”.
“The device of a youth wage subsidy is divisive and thoroughly right wing and reactionary.
“Numsa will, with Cosatu [the Congress of SA Trade Unions], combat any attempts at diluting the rights the working class have won in this country,” he said.
Need to change labour dispensation
At a conference in Johannesburg earlier this week, Gordhan said it might be necessary “to change the way we see the labour dispensation in South Africa”.
Laws might need to be relaxed to allow young people to enter the workplace and gain skills and experience at lower wages but not at the expense of people who already had jobs, he said.
Unless such changes were made, “we will not be able to make the breakthrough we need to create jobs”, Gordhan said at the time.
In the National Assembly on Wednesday, opposition leader Athol Trollip asked planning minister Trevor Manuel whether he agreed with Gordhan’s assertion that “we would have to look at restrictive labour legislation if we are to create more jobs in the economy”.
Manuel replied that he had studied the text of Gordhan’s speech and this was but one snippet.
He then said, “I think all what he said is a position that I would endorse wholeheartedly. We must let nothing stand in the way of job creation in this country.”
According to Statistics SA, South Africa’s official unemployment rate stands at 25.7 percent.
Under the expanded definition of unemployment—which refers to people of working age without work and available to start work that week, but who had not looked for work in the four weeks before the Stats SA interview—7 678 000 South Africans were unemployed.—Sapa.