/ 3 March 2009

Zuma: Tourism industry must protect jobs

The tourism industry should do ”everything possible” to protect jobs in light of a ”looming recession”, African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

”With the looming economic recession in our country, we urge the tourism industry to do everything possible not to shed jobs,” Zuma told the Tourism Business Council South Africa in Sandton, Johannesburg.

”All avenues must be explored to save jobs in our country. From outside we want to assure you that we are serious about tourism, and that we do not regard it as a Cinderella industry. It is a job- and money-spinner and a key player in our economy,” he said.

Zuma warned employers in the tourism sector that the ANC government intended introducing laws regulating contract work, subcontracting and outsourcing. This was to prevent the exploitation of workers.

”Provisions will be introduced to facilitate unionisation of workers and the conclusion of sectoral collective agreements to cover vulnerable workers in these different legal relationships and ensure the right to permanent employment for affected workers,” he said.

Zuma was addressing captains of the R7,1-billion-a-year tourism industry.

The industry contributes 3,3% to the country’s GDP.

35 000 planned retrenchments
Last month trade union Solidarity said planned retrenchments currently stood at 35 000 for all sectors of the domestic economy, with the platinum industry the hardest hit.

This followed an announcement by the world’s largest platinum producer, Anglo Platinum, that it planned on cutting about 10 000 jobs in the coming year — 6 000 of these would be retrenchments while a further 4 000 jobs would be reduced through natural attrition, the union said.

Nearly 8 000 jobs would be cut in the first half of the year. This included 6 000 contract workers whose contracts would not be renewed as well as 2 000 jobs reduced through natural attrition.

”The remaining 2 000 jobs will be trimmed in the second half of the year through natural attrition,” Solidarity said.

According to the union’s calculations, Section 189 notices had already been issued for the retrenchment of more than 35 000 employees in all sectors.

Solidarity described the effect of the current economic conditions on the platinum industry as ”a crisis”.

On Monday Zuma called on labour and business to ”make sacrifices” to avoid job losses in the face of the global finance crisis, Business Day reported.

He said South Africans faced ”extraordinary circumstances” and would be required to make ”sacrifices” to prevent businesses from closing down and shedding jobs.

Zuma suggested more interest-rate cuts and smaller performance bonuses for executives.

He also said workers should donate a day’s wages to a fund to mitigate the effects of retrenchments.

”Every suggestion should be thrown into the basket,” he told Business Day.

Saving jobs would be a priority for the new government, he said. — Sapa