Oliphant disregards SMME job losses - Neasa

Johannesburg - By only engaging with the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) and the Engineering and metal workers' union (Numsa) in an attempt to find a settlement for the current metal strike, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is sending a message that she has no regard for the interests of small and medium size business (SMMEs), The National Employers' Association of South Africa (Neasa) said on Friday.

"Government calls on the private sector to create jobs. It is, however, in negotiations such as these that the structures should be created in which sustainable employment and job creation should take place," said Neasa CEO Gerhard Papenfus.

"Unless the parties to the Bargaining Council see to it that it happens in these negotiations, it won't happen at all."

The National Development Plan foresees that 90% of jobs will be created by SMMEs by 2030.

"What is currently happening in the metal industry is in actual fact taking this industry in exactly the opposite direction, namely fewer jobs created by SMMEs," said Papenfus.

"The minister might be successful in brokering a deal which will bring an end to the strike, but in doing so she might also create the cause for further accelerated job losses in the metal industry."

Seifa's employer membership comprises less than 18% of employers in the industry, according to Papenfus.

"Does the minister only talk to them because of the big employers among their ranks? Is she succumbing under pressure from Numsa? Is that where the less complicated, one-size-fits-all, job-destroying deal lies? How does the minister explain her total disregard for SMMEs?" asked Papenfus.

"The minister must be well aware that a settlement without Neasa will not survive the benchmark of extension to the whole of the industry."

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