Monthly meetings to take stock of Jobs Summit deliverables

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Monthly meetings are to be held going forward to discuss the implementation of commitments contained in the Jobs Summit Report, which was handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday.

President Ramaphosa received the report by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) on progress made in the implementation of the Framework Agreement adopted by the Presidential Jobs Summit which was held in October 2018.

The NEDLAC report documents progress and challenges encountered in relation to the Framework Agreement which included programmes and projects to create jobs; mechanisms to unblock barriers to effective implementation; as well as agreements on the imperative for job retention and ways to prevent job losses.

Since the Jobs Summit, agreements and commitments made have been tabulated into work plans which are being used to inform implementation and monitor progress.

Briefing reporters after the meeting on Thursday at the Nedlac offices, where the report was handed over to the President, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said stakeholders would meet on the first Monday of the month from next month with regards to commitments made at the Jobs Summit.

“We have agreed now that there will be a focus on all projects of the Jobs Summit. We’ve also taken a decision led by the President that these structures which were meeting quarterly are now going to meet every first Monday of the month,” said Nxesi.

He said the meeting had looked at the various projects which were agreed upon in terms of their implementation.

“We said there were 77 commitments which we were supposed to be implementing, [we looked] at which commitments have been implemented and … where there were constraints,” said the Minister.

Energy security, the challenges faced by power utility Eskom and government bureaucracy were among the concerns raised by business, labour and community partners, he said.

“The economy depends on electricity, bureaucracy in government also needs to be dealt with as well as visa issues. These were the key issues that were raised,” said the Minister.

Thursday’s meeting came on the back of data released by Statistics SA which revealed that the country’s unemployment figure in the second quarter of 2019 was standing at 29%. Nxesi described the figure, which grew by 1.4%, as serious.

There needs to be more impetus on delivering on the agreements following the May elections as well as the reconfiguration of some government departments.

Also among the issues on the agenda at the meeting was those youth who do not hold any qualifications.

Frank and honest discussion

Business Unity South Africa’s (BUSA) interim Chief Executive Officer Cas Coovadia said the meeting was held in a frank and honest fashion.

“We also understood that between October 2018 [when the summit happened] and now, the social, economic and political climate has been difficult,” he said.

All stakeholders recognise that the country is in a difficult situation, particularly given the data that came out from Eskom - which recorded R20.7 billion financial loss - and the unemployment figures.

He re-emphasised businesses’ commitment to job creation while also highlighting that there are critical issues which need to be addressed to get investment into the country “and get businesses working again so that jobs can be created”.

“We need to put our shoulders to the wheel [and] to have the hard discussions, make hard trade-offs and take the tough decisions we need to take as a country. We welcome the President’s decision that we meet on a monthly basis,” said Coovadia.

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said while labour had come to the meeting with “some doubt” it had been fruitful and there was a sense that all roleplayers want to honour the commitments made.

He expressed concern at the retrenching of workers while also remaining positive of future talks.

“We are positive that all problems are not insurmountable,” said the general secretary.