'Employment trends paint bleak picture'

Employment and unemployment trends continue to paint a bleak picture, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Monday as it released its June 2011 Naledi report at its four-day central committee meeting at Gallagher Estate in Midrand near Johannesburg.

“While we were able to make some employment gains during our growth period in the 2000s, our level of unemployment has shifted back to our pre-growth levels.

“It is unlikely that employment gains will be achieved in the short run, given our declining industrial base and no significant intervention to restructure our economy.”

The report added that South Africa’s response to the global crisis had been swift and significant, with all social partners “clamouring” on board to ensure the country’s response was effective.

“In a very short space of time, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) was able to conclude the National Framework Agreement in response to the global crisis.

“However, when measured against other country responses to the crisis, we fared very poorly in saving little jobs, if any.”

Cosatu said that about 6 000 jobs had been saved through the Training Layoff Scheme, while the Industrial Development Corporation through its intervention saved an estimated 17 000 jobs.

“Notwithstanding these important interventions, they may have come a little too slow and too late,” the report added.

Turning to healthcare, the Naledi report said that radical transformation of the present two-tier health care system was necessary.

“This will lay a firm base for the de-commodification of the healthcare system in which access to healthcare is provided according to need and not according to ability to pay.”

The Naledi report added that without a National Health Insurance, a racially skewered healthcare system would continue to be perpetuated.

“According to the general household survey, more than 91% of Africans do not have access to medical aid.”

The report added that, in contrast, 73.5% continued to reap the benefits of private healthcare.

Turning to the issue of national retirement, the report said that access to a basic retirement fund or retirement savings scheme remained problematic for many workers in precarious sectors of SA’s labour market.

Many workers in the sectors of agriculture (90.2%), construction, (74.3%) wholesale and retail (62.7%), transport (52.1%) and domestic service (97%) did not contribute towards any retirement fund.

Workers in the sectors of mining (79%), manufacturing (56%) energy and water (82%), finance (50.9%) and community and public services (73.1%) showed better access to a retirement fund, though significant numbers in these sectors continued to lag behind their worker colleagues.—I-Net Bridge

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