Workers' summit jobs campaign demands

2016-05-19 20:02

WRAP: Vying for support on Workers' Day

2016-05-01 19:33

News24 Live presents a wrap-up of Workers' Day events. Watch as President Jacob Zuma addresses workers near Tshwane, while Zwelinzima Vavi and Irvin Jim lead an event in Thembisa.WATCH

Johannesburg - The workers’ summit is preparing to establish a new trade union federation to rival the Cosat.

Summit convener Zwelinzima Vavi on Thursday said 53 unions had so far committed to the new federation.

The unions had agreed in the meantime to campaign for jobs.

Here are the 16 demands of the jobs campaign:

1. We are of the view that the crisis of unemployment is structural and therefore can only be solved by structural interventions.  The calamity will deepen further unless steps are taken to share the wealth of our country, including the land, equitably amongst our people. Our liberation will not have real meaning until the property poverty of the majority has been addressed. The structural crisis of our economy is also due to the fact that our mineral wealth, the banks and the manufacturing sector remain largely in the hands of white monopoly capital and are increasingly owned externally. 

2. What this country needs is a complete change of political and economic direction, and the adoption of policies which vigorously confront the structural deficiencies.

3. The structure of the economy we inherited from the colonial and apartheid era must be changed. Our economy continues to be dominated by mining, finance capital and heavy chemicals. We need an economy that will ensure environmentally sustainable mass industrialisation and beneficiation of the downstream sectors to build new productive industries which create jobs on a large scale. Piecemeal interventions here and there are no solution. 

4. Fiscal and monetary policies must be engineered to support this new direction. Government adopted the Industrial Action Plan (IPAP) and the New Growth Path (NGP) but simply failed to change the fiscal and monetary policies associated with GEAR. These conservative and inappropriate fiscal and monetary policies have arrested any possibility of a new industrialisation path. 

5. We need a government made up of people who are not riddled with conflicts of interest, and who are not afraid to intervene decisively in the economy. This must include strategic nationalisation and social ownership, and the use of a variety of macro-economic and other state levers to regulate and channel investment, production, consumption and trade to deliberately drive industrialisation, sustainable development, decent employment creation, and regional development. The historical patterns of colonial exploitation and dependence have to be broken.  

6. New mandates must be given to the Treasury, the Reserve Bank, the State Owned Enterprises and the National Planning Commission to pursue an agenda aggressively aligned to these new priorities. 

7. A new wage policy that abolishes the apartheid wage structure and replaces it with a more equitable wage structure underpinned by collective bargaining and a meaningful national minimum wage must be introduced. This must be buttressed by a comprehensive social security system that helps to root out hunger and growing inequality. 

8. We need to be moving towards the consolidation of retirement funds and the creation of a central retirement fund investment vehicle in the private sector, along the lines of the PIC, aimed at directing the savings of workers into productive investment. And we need to establish the long talked of Workers Bank.

9. We will not succeed if we do not also address the education and training crisis. In twenty-two years of democracy very little has been done to address the quality of our education system. We cannot compete even with our neighbours let alone the industrialised economies. The children of the workers and the poor are trapped in an inferior education system. 70% of those who pass matric come from a mere 11% of our schools. Almost half of our children drop out of school before they reach matric. 41% of students who enter our universities drop out before graduating. The relationship between this failure of our education system and the unemployment crisis cannot be over emphasized. We need the education system to be revamped through the introduction of mass teacher-training programmes in critical areas. Education must be free and funded by the fiscus and through community service in state programmes    

10. The national budget must prioritise the introduction of major state driven initiatives to create decent jobs. A programme of investment in the rapid expansion of renewable energy generation, in particular solar and wind, would be an easy win, not only on the jobs front, but also for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The retrofitting of all public building to be energy efficient would be another easy job creation win with positive environmental impacts as well as savings to the state. Trade policies need to be reviewed and where necessary rewritten to protect and promote a local renewable energy components industry.

11. A massive state driven housing construction programme must be undertaken linked to the stimulation of downstream industries to supply the necessary inputs:- bricks, mortar, glass, pipes, tiles, etc. Tight restrictions on the import of these goods must be imposed. Each state built home must be fitted with a locally produced fridge, stove and solar geyser as a way of stimulating the growth of local industry. House construction must come with the proper design of integrated community services and green spaces.  

12. These programmes must be complemented by a state driven land redistribution programme. Agricultural extension services which provide inputs for agriculture must be introduced on a mass scale to stimulate local food production. State run marketing boards to assist local small scale farmers to sell their produce at guaranteed prices must be set up. 

13. Bearing in mind that we are a water scarce country, a massive programme for water savings has to be undertaken starting with rain water harvesting and pipe repairs. 

14. There must be a process involving young people to discuss what are appropriate job creation programmes that are properly financed and that lead to real jobs, not like the current EPWP, which is a device to lower the unemployment figures and often leads nowhere. There should be creative 2-year community service programmes for 18 year olds where they could be trained in technical skills such as plumbing, electrical, carpentry, masonry etc.  Students enrolled in tertiary education should be encouraged during or at the completion of their courses to plough back their learnings into the community, especially in the fields of health, engineering, legal services, adult literacy, school teaching etc. Our young people have a lot to offer the community, and they must be accommodated to allow them to share their energy and new fields of knowledge and expertise. These are the options that our young people must be given an opportunity to discuss. They must also be given the opportunity to experience how trade unionism can protect them from exploitation and win them to the side of the workers movement. 

15. Revenue for these programmes will come from increased taxation of wealthy individuals and the corporate, and through clamping down on the illicit outflows of capital. In addition, prescribed assets will be introduced where the idle bank revenues of corporate (estimated to be in the region of R1,5 trillion) will be invested in state programmes. Surpluses of the Public Investment Corporation (managers of the government employees pension funds) and UIF will be similarly used for funding state priorities. As this occurs, it can be expected that private sector investment will be “crowded in” as they seek a slice of the cake because this redistributive programme will stimulate economic growth. 

16. It goes without saying that meaningful efforts to ensure that corruption is dealt with decisively, and that misplaced and stolen resources must be repaid back. We must ensure that those who have stolen from the public purse in particular are dealt with promptly and decisively, unlike the current situation where it can take years to make a conviction, or as we have seen in Parliament, all manner of smoke screens are put up to protect those who face charges.


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