DA misleading by pushing for youth wage subsidy – Cosatu

2013-05-17 08:50

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Cosatu has rejected the claim by Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille that the trade union federation was keeping people unemployed by influencing government not to implement the youth wage subsidy.

Zille said at Orange Farm on Wednesday: “By bowing to the narrow interests of Cosatu and refusing to implement the youth wage subsidy, this government excludes young people from the economy. It cuts the youth off from opportunity.”

Zille was speaking on the anniversary of the Democratic Alliance’s march to the Congress of SA Trade Unions’ headquarters in Johannesburg on May 15 last year.

The march turned violent when rocks were thrown during a confrontation between the two. The DA claimed Cosatu started the violence, while Cosatu was adamant DA supporters threw rocks first.

Zille said on Wednesday Cosatu thought it could scare the DA away, but it could not be more wrong.

“Today we meet again, one year on, to remind young South Africans that Cosatu is still keeping them unemployed, that it is keeping them locked out of the economy and denying them the dream of a better future,” Zille said.

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the trade union federation totally rejected “the false argument of Helen Zille”.

“The DA is to trying to drive a wedge between the employed and unemployed youth by misleading the jobless into believing the myth that employed workers, especially those in Cosatu unions, are conspiring to exclude the unemployed in order to protect their ‘privileged’ position of having a job,” Craven said in a statement yesterday.

“Every survey of workers earnings exposes this as nonsense. In 2011 half of South African workers earned below R3033 per month. Yet rough estimates for a national minimum level are around R4500 a month. So those living below this figure – more than 60% of workers – are living in poverty.

“And most of the workers earning these low wages have to support as many as 10 dependent, unemployed family members. This counters the phoney argument that employed workers have become a privileged elite, with different interests than the unemployed. On the contrary, their interests are closely intertwined,” Craven said.

Cosatu had ceaselessly highlighted the unacceptable levels of youth unemployment, but insisted on looking for genuine solutions, unlike the DA strategy which was a mischievous attempt to pretend to the young unemployed there was a quick-fix solution called a youth wage subsidy.

This was based on the false premise that the cause of high unemployment was the high cost of labour and restrictive labour laws that made it too hard to fire workers.

“The DA is serving its real masters – white monopoly capital who want the taxpayers to subsidise them in order to maximise profits.

“Helen Zille’s crusade against Cosatu is a crude attempt to divert blame for the youth unemployment crisis from its real causes: the economic growth path we inherited from our colonial and apartheid past – weak infrastructure, monopolies and cartels, and an economy over-dependent on the export of raw materials.

“The DA stands four-square for the interests of the workers’ class enemies in its rich and big business constituency.”

Craven said it was an illusion that structural problems of unemployment could be solved by deregulating the labour market.

“Unemployment is not caused by the high cost of labour, nor trade unions, nor low labour productivity, nor inadequate skills of the workforce – but the nature of our economy.

“Cosatu represents the working class and the poor, while the DA speaks for big business, the wealthy and the privileged. They are not the saviours of the unemployed youth but their biggest enemy,” said Craven.

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