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South African unions optimistic after election of new government

4 June, 2019It has been a busy past few weeks for South African politics following national and provincial elections, and the swearing in of Members of Parliament, the president and cabinet ministers. Unions are optimistic on prospects for job creation and a better economy.

In his inauguration speech, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said that under his administration the government will promote policies that create decent work and skills development especially for young people, empower women, fight corruption and end poverty in a generation.

President Ramaphosa cited the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a provider of new jobs, especially for young workers. Further, he said that during his tenure South African society will be guided by equality and solidarity and that he will promote a social compact between business and labour.

Additionally, sustainable economic development will be promoted “for productive lands and viable communities, for knowledge, for innovation, and for services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable.” Companies will be asked to “generate social value and propel human development.”

A march for jobs in Johannesburg

Said IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union:

“Growth and development of our manufacturing industry remains crucial for South Africa’s future overall economic well-being. We cannot be a country of raw material exporters and importers of finished goods, if we are to decisively address the triple crises of unemployment, inequality and poverty. The industrialization and beneficiation of our economy is key.”

“We especially appreciate the appointment of Minister Ebrahim Patel as Trade and Industry Minister. It bodes well for the future of the clothing, textile, leather and footwear sectors, and for the fast-tracked development of the manufacturing industry in general.”

Said Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa:

“We welcome the announcements by President Ramaphosa, especially the appointment of more women to the cabinet which led to the achievement of a 50/50 gender parity. Further, we expect that the announcements will result in the creation of decent jobs and living wages.”

A march for jobs in Johannesburg

The South African economic outlook is bleak. According to Statistics South Africa unemployment is high at 27.6 per cent and is even higher as seen in the extended rate of over 37 per cent — which includes discouraged job seekers who have stopped looking for work. Thousands of jobs are also being lost in the mines when operations are closed. But unions are optimistic that the government will turn things around and will continue their jobs and living wages campaigns as strategies to reduce inequality.