Zuma: R2,4bn for job fund to help weather recession

An amount of R2,4-billion will be placed in the national job fund to help employers and workers weather South Africa’s financial recession, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.

After a meeting with the economic crisis response team, Zuma said the resources would be drawn from the national skills fund and the unemployment insurance fund.

“This fund will be used to pay a training allowance to workers pegged at 50% of the basic wage or salary to a maximum of R6 239 a month,” Zuma said.

Setting up a training lay-off scheme was one of the alternatives to retrenchment for workers and companies affected by the recession, he said.

The training lay-off scheme will entail a temporary suspension of work of a worker or a group of workers to be used for training purposes.

“It will be launched in September 2009 and will be applicable to workers in defined circumstances earning up to R180 000 per annum,” said Zuma.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said volumes of applications would be administered by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

There would also be rules guiding the granting of training lay-off legitimacy.

Possible training activities would be in line with the person’s current employment. This was to enhance their skills once they returned to work.

The government would also encourage training in the fields of information communication and technology, as well as basic literacy and numeracy.

The exact module was yet to be defined, however the maximum period for a training lay-off would be capped at three months.

“While significant technical work has been done and important progress made, implementation needs to be speeded up so that the effects of this work will begin to be felt by the population,” said Zuma.—Sapa

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