Zuma wants speedy resolution of labour disputes for sake of economy

2013-10-10 08:42

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President Jacob Zuma has urged unions and business to “speedily” and “peacefully” resolve all labour disputes for the sake of the country’s economy.

Zuma was addressing the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s annual gala dinner in Midrand which was attended by various captains of industry.

He was speaking on the back of lengthy strikes in the petroleum and automotive sector which analysts have warned could scupper the country’s economic growth further.

He urged the private sector and unions to take advantage of South Africa’s “progressive” labour relations framework to conclude negotiations sooner.

“We urge those sectors with disputes that have not yet been resolved to attend to them speedily so that the economy can return to full production,” said Zuma.

He highlighted government’s interventions in the troubled mining sector as having yielded positive results and stabilising the industry which had been characterised by violent strikes in the past year.

“We have worked closely with business and labour to ensure a more rapid and peaceful resolution of labour disputes, while at the same time improving the operational and policy environment in the sector.

“We appreciate the cooperation of business and labour in the mining intervention programme,” said Zuma.

While hailing the growing investment by the private sector, Zuma admitted South Africa still faced many challenges, in particular the high rate of unemployment.

But South Africa had changed for the better since the 1994 democratic dispensation.

Zuma said the work done over the past 20 years had created a fertile foundation for future growth.

“We have created a stable political system founded on constitutionally protected rights and a multiparty democracy.

“It is this environment that has enabled business to thrive and venture out into new markets within the domestic economy, Africa and the rest of the world,” said Zuma.

He also used the address to announce a number of infrastructure projects which, he said, were central to service delivery.

Read: 50 faces of Jacob Zuma

Despite labour federation Cosatu, and in particular the National Union of Metalworkers’ rejection of the National Development Plan, Zuma said government was already implementing the country’s “blueprint” for development and economic growth.

“We have already begun to implement the plan through the strategies of the New Growth Path, the national infrastructure plan and the Industrial Policy Action Plan aimed at promoting inclusive economic growth and development,” he said, indicating that government was going ahead with the plan despite criticism by unions.

The Draft Employment Tax Incentive Bill, which is aimed at encouraging employers to give opportunities to workers of all ages and first-time job seekers, in special economic zones, will “generate a lot of constructive debate aimed at finding solutions” to the unemployment crisis.

Government would continue to create an “enabling” environment for job creation, despite the country’s economy having faced turbulent times, said Zuma.

“One aspect is the relaxation of cross-border financial regulations and tax requirements, making it easier for banks and other financial institutions to invest and operate in African countries.

“Similar measures will also apply to foreign companies wanting to invest in Africa countries using South Africa as their regional headquarters,” said Zuma.

With over a thousand investments approved by the South African Reserve Bank in the past few years to generate tax revenue, dividends and jobs between countries, government was also opening the county’s borders to trade within Africa.

Government had also identified agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and the tourism sectors for investment to boost economic growth and job creation, said Zuma.

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