New broom at labour department lauds SA’s development achievements

2011-05-25 12:33

South Africa has made great strides in promoting gender equity in the labour market, protecting vulnerable workers and creating employment as part of its contribution to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This is according to the Deparment of Labour’s director-general (DG) Nkosinathi Nhleko in his first address to the National Assembly’s labour committee today.

The newly appointed DG said the department was charged with the responsibility of focusing on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

“In targeting eight of the MDGs, we have put on energies on protecting vulnerable workers, protecting equity in the workplace and contributing to employment creation, among others.”

The deputy DG for public employment services, Sam Morotoba, said workers in the agriculture and domestic sectors continued to be the focus of interventions with the relevant legal framework already in place to regulate minimum employment conditions aimed at protecting vulnerable workers.

“We have consistently embarked on intensified inspection campaigns over the past three years to ensure compliance in already identified high risk and problematic sectors,” he said.

Specific programmes were also piloted and implemented to increase awareness on health and safety in these sectors.

In eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, Morotoba said 81% (more than 400 000) of the registered job seekers were referred for career guidance, work placement, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), Compensation Fund (CF) and skills development.

“Of the 25 449 job opportunities registered countrywide, more than 7 000 work seekers were placed in employment and more than 6 000 assisted through the training lay-off scheme.”

A total of R40 million had been allocated to 19 companies, mainly for those workers that would be trained under the training lay-off scheme.

“When it comes to gender equity, more than 52 000 women were assisted to access employment services interventions,” he said.

The deputy DG for labour market policy, Les Kettledas, said South Africa had increased the real wages of workers covered by the sectoral determinations over the past ten years, particularly when it came to wages of domestic and farm workers.

“Overall in South Africa, employment of workers covered by minimum wage legislation grew at a rate of 2.9% a year from nearly 3.5 million in 2001 to just over four million in 2007.”

Kettledas said that there was a move in the right direction with steady progress made towards promoting equity in the labour market.

“At top management levels, women constituted 18.2% in 2008 and 19% in 2010 of all positions at this level. At senior management level, women constituted 28.3% in 2008 and 29.3% in 2010 of all positions at this level,” he said.

Nhleko said increasing public sector investments, promoting active private sector involvement and community, non-governmental participation should be scaled up to achieve the MDGs.

The MDGs were agreed by heads of state and adopted in the Millennium Declaration during the United Nations’ General Assembly in September 2000.

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