Give us half of youth subsidy, Zille says

2012-05-21 16:28
Cape Town - The Western Cape would make good use of half of the R5bn that has been set aside for a national youth subsidy, Premier Helen Zille said on Monday.

"We are appealing to the national government. If they can't use it for the purposes intended there, because the ANC is allowing the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) to block policy implementation, well, give it to us in the Western Cape.

"We will show you in a pilot project just how outstanding this programme can be if implemented properly and we will also show that none of the negative effects that Cosatu is predicting will come to pass."

Zille was speaking after a briefing on a youth wage subsidy programme being introduced in her province.

Economic Development MEC Alan Winde said the programme, created in 2009, had placed over 2 000 first-time job seekers into a six-month work position, with about 70% remaining in the position full-time.

The candidates had to have at least a matric or equivalent qualification and be between 15 and 34 years old.

They received a R1 200 monthly stipend from the province, with many companies opting to top this up.

Winde said the programme had been so successful they were already over-subscribed.

The national youth subsidy would allow the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to partially reimburse companies that paid wages to a young employee.

Zille said she supported the programme.

"We fully support national treasury's version. Obviously we can't do that locally because we do not have control over Sars."

Common ground

She called on President Jacob Zuma to make a decision on the programme.

"We are saying to the president: lead this country. Are you allowing Cosatu to hold you to ransom because you want to be re-elected in Mangaung? If so, you are letting down the youth."

Zuma said recently that the youth wage subsidy was before the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) so it could consider all views and make final recommendations to Cabinet.

He said the challenge was to find common ground between the opposing views on the subsidy.

Violence erupted on Tuesday when the Democratic Alliance showed support for the subsidy by marching to Cosatu's headquarters in Johannesburg.

The DA has accused the union federation of blocking the subsidy's implementation and costing young people jobs. Cosatu maintains the subsidy will displace existing jobs and enrich employers.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said she wanted Cosatu's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to witness the youth subsidy programme in action.

"I will today write to Vavi and urge him to come and see this success for himself so that he can base his position on evidence and not merely ideology.

"He relies on baseless arguments, such as that this policy would result in older workers losing their jobs, to justify his opposition to job creation."

Zille said the provincial programme had not resulted in any job displacements and all employees were protected by stringent labour laws.

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