This article is about a brilliant idea to solve the unemployment problem in South Africa.
We, the Langeberg Unemployed Forum, noticed that the DA picked up on our idea and we hope that other parties will not oppose it just because the DA supports it.
We are non-political and do not support any specific party.
In fact, we want all political parties and all the labour unions to support the Job Seeker’s Exemption Certificate (JSEC).
We want Parliament to pass an act, without opposition, to create JSECs, which would put the power into the hands of unemployed people.
A JSEC could be a powerful tool to give hope to the unemployed.
So many of them have been unemployed for a long time with no idea why.
We are confident that once our people have a JSEC in their hands they will find small businesses and household employers who would be willing to give them a chance; a chance to show what they can do; a chance to regain their confidence and dignity by giving them the opportunity to take care of themselves and their families.
Who would deny people this right?
As a representative of more than 10.3 million unemployed people, the Langeberg Unemployed Forum has for many years been saying that the real causes of the unemployment crisis are labour laws that prevent businesses from hiring our people.
Laws should not stop people from earning a living and the government should not try to ignore the reality of the unemployment problem.
We live daily with our suffering families and something needs to be done to give us back our dignity and the ability to earn wages.
Any wage with which we are comfortable, not a wage decided on for us by someone else.
We must be free to make our own arrangements with employers and to decide for ourselves what wages and other conditions of employment we are prepared to accept.
The labour department has known for a long time about the JSEC, a simple solution to the scourge of unemployment in the country, but it has failed to do anything about it.
Giving the unemployed the legal right to make their own decisions about what wages and conditions of employment they are prepared to accept will set us free from the chains of the labour laws.
You might not be able to see those chains, but they are as real as if they were made of steel.
The unemployed feel as though the chains are locked around their legs, the key has been thrown away and no one cares.
More than 10 million unemployed South Africans are locked in the chains that are created by Parliament to bind employers to make jobs more secure for those who already have jobs.
Members of Parliament know that the rules they make, very often with the unions pushing them from behind, will put jobs out of the reach of the unemployed.
But they carry on and do it anyway. You see, they think we don’t know what they are doing. But those days are over.
Small businesses have been struggling and dying because they can’t afford to pay the wages that are agreed on between the labour department, unions, big employers and the politicians in Parliament.
What is very disappointing is that we complained to the SA Human Rights Commission (HRC) that these laws were stopping more than 10 million people from working and it did not do anything to help.
Because we told it that the problem lay with Parliament, the HRC told us that we should take our complaint to Parliament.
We will go to Parliament if we have to, but we really believed that, according to the Bill of Rights, the HRC should give priority to the rights of the 10 million unemployed rather than chasing after silly people who call other people names.
We found the solution to South Africa’s unemployment problem in a proposal made to former president Thabo Mbeki by the Malamulela Social Movement for the Unemployed.
The proposals were later included in a little book titled Jobs for the Jobless.
The book suggested a simple way to decrease unemployment in the country without reducing the job security of those who already have jobs.
The main suggestions we support are:
- Give unemployed people who have been unemployed for six months or more a JSEC that is valid for two years and gives the holders the right to enter into any employment agreements with an employer on any conditions with which they are happy;
- Applicants sign sworn affidavits to confirm their period of unemployment;
- Municipalities are appointed to issue JSECs; and
- Written and signed JSEC agreements would cover basic conditions that, with a copy of the exemption certificate, prove compliance by employers.
A six-month waiting period would stop employers from firing employees and rehiring them when they have JSECs.
Municipalities are the best issuing agents because they are close to the people.
The protections offered by common law would allow JSEC holders to use as many opportunities as possible to find jobs.
A two-year JSEC would give holders enough opportunity to find jobs, change jobs, consolidate their positions, build up track records and make themselves so important that they are taken on as permanent staff members.
A written contract would be necessary to ensure the terms and conditions are clear.
But, in the interests of the unemployed, all the terms should be negotiable.
Mpini is chief executive officer of the Langeberg Unemployed Forum
Get in touch
|Rise above the clutter | Choose your news | City Press in your inbox|
|City Press is an agenda-setting South African news brand that publishes across platforms. Its flagship print edition is distributed on a Sunday.|