Workers look to SONA to address job creation

Cosatu calls for more funding for the presidential employment stimulus plan.

With preparations under way for the annual presidential State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called for additional funding for the Presidential Employment Programme and for the president to address the matter of foreign workers.

“We also hope the president is going to address the contentious issue of South African companies that are playing poor foreign workers against poor South African workers. The Department of Employment and Labour, the Department of Home Affairs and other relevant state institutions need to enforce the current labour and immigration laws to combat this problem,” the union said in a statement.

The trade federation, which represents about 1.8 million workers, said it expects the SONA to provide a progress update on government’s interventions to rebuild the state, tackle corruption, grow the economy, create jobs, and roll out vaccines.

Specific reference was made to key interventions including the economic recovery and reconstruction plan, social relief grant, state-owned enterprises and public procurement.

“The Presidential Employment Programme has done well creating 550,000 jobs.  Whilst, we welcome the additional funding provided to it, it still needs to be doubled in the 2022 budget so it can create at least two million badly needed jobs,” Cosatu said in a statement.

The focus of the employment stimulus plan, which was first announced in April 2020, is job creation through public employment, job retention in vulnerable sectors, direct support to livelihood strategies as well as fast-tracking high-impact employment enablers.

It has since been reported that during phase one of the plan, more than 550,000 jobs and livelihoods had been supported, against the overall target being 694,120 work opportunities with 84 percent of participants being people under the age of 35, and 66 percent being women.

According to minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele, phase two of the plan would include the establishment of a new social employment fund, which would be provided by organisations outside of the state.

The second phase of the plan has a direct focus on the youth under the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention and it would also support demand-led training as a new approach to skills development, to link directly to available jobs.