Retrenchments should be last resort, Cabinet pleads

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cabinet has appealed to employers across industries, especially mining and media, to avoid job losses and only effect retrenchments as a last resort. 

“We reiterate our appeal to business to consider retrenchment only as a last resort, and to explore other available and innovative ways to sustain jobs.  

“Government continues to partner with business and labour, and remains convinced that working together, we can grow our economy and create new jobs,” said Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane at a post-Cabinet media briefing held in Cape Town on Thursday. 

Earlier this month, the retrenchment of 14 000 Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mineworkers was put on hold for at least two months.  This came after government, Amplats and organised labour had reached an agreement to postpone the retrenchment. 

Prior to this, Amplats had announced that it would retrench about 14 000 workers due to the strikes that resulted in the company not generating profits.

The tripartite members recommitted to engage constructively for the benefit of all stakeholders and will communicate progress updates as and when appropriate.  

On Wednesday, Mokonyane expressed concern at the potential loss of 300 jobs at Afro World View News Channel after MultiChoice SA did not renew its contract on Monday.   

While noting that these are commercial agreements between private parties, Mokonyane said she was concerned about how young, mostly black people, were affected by this development, as their employment is a source of income for their immediate and extended families.

“We have been informed by MultiChoice SA of their intention to make an announcement on a new 24-hour news channel by Tuesday, 28 August 2018, whose conditions, amongst others, is to consider the future employability of the no less than 300 workers affected by the Afro World View contractual termination. 

“We are pleased that there will be consideration given to these skills and that they will not be lost to the sector. To ensure that our national aspirations of a transformed and diverse media sector are realised and that the media plays a role in social cohesion and nation-building -- as envisioned by the National Development Plan -- we must enhance the available talent and develop new skills.”  

No plans to retrench in public sector 

With regard to reports of pending retrenchments in government, Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo earlier this month assured public servants that government will not retrench public servants en masse. 

Dlodlo refuted media reports that government plans to retrench 30 000 public servants to cut costs. She said the media report was a complete misrepresentation of government’s programme. 

“It’s intended objective is to create unnecessary and dangerous panic not only in the public service but the entire country and it must be rejected with the contempt it deserves,” the Minister said at the time. 

The Mail & Guardian reported that the process to retrench public servants would take place over three years and could save government up to R20 billion. 

“The report is a complete misrepresentation of government’s programme in relation to the macro organization of the State and the initiatives proposed to manage the public sector wage bill,” the Minister said. 

Dlodlo acknowledged that there were plans to restructure the public service. 

"I assure public servants that government does not have a plan to retrench public servants en masse, as alleged by the Mail & Guardian newspaper. 

“If people leave the public service, it will not be because of retrenchment but it will be because of packages offered to them with no penalties.” 

Dlodo said government has been looking at decreasing the numbers but did not reach the conclusion of retrenching people. She said government is looking at options such as reskilling to address the shortage of skills in the public service. –