MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal Province: His Excellency; Mr Sihle Zikalala
Honourable Mayor of KwaDukuza; His Worship, Cllr Njabulo Ricardo Mthembu.
Director-General of the International Labour Organisation; Mr. Guy Ryder;
Minister of Labour of the Federal Republic of Brazil; His Excellency; Caio Luiz de Almeida Vieira.
Minister of Labour and Employment of the Republic of India, His Excellency; Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar.
Minister of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China; His Excellency; Qiu Xiaoping;
Minister of Labour of the Kingdom of eSwatini, Her Excellency; Winnie Magagula;
Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation, Her Excellency; Liubov Eltsova;
Deputy Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation of the Republic of Namibia; His Excellency; Tommy Nambahu;
Deputy Minister of Labour of the Republic of South Africa; His Excellency; Inkosi Phathekile Holomisa;
Secretary-General of the International Social Security Agency, Mr. Hans-Horst Konkolewsky;
Representatives of Business and Organised Labour;
Distinguished guests, and resource persons;
Senior government officials here present.
Ladies and gentlemen;
On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, I welcome you to the Fourth Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting.
It is indeed an honour for the Republic of South Africa, to lead the BRICS formation during the course of this year. The 10th BRICS Summit held last week, was indeed an important as it marked the first decade of summits. It provided a strong testimony that our countries, indeed, walk the talk. Those who doubted our reasons for existence, are envious of the progress we are making.
It is significant that the Summit of our leaders took place against the backdrop of South Africa’s celebration of the centenary of the birth of our national icon, Nelson Mandela. His values, principles and dedication to the humanity and his immense contribution to the struggle for democracy, and the promotion of the culture of peace throughout the world, resonate perfectly with the core values of the BRICS formation.
We are particularly grateful of the various pledges by BRICS member-countries, to invest in our economy especially in the key strategic assets of our country and by extension our African continent. It will go down in history that when the multilateral trade system was under enormous threat, BRICS stepped up to the challenge.
BRICS has proven beyond any doubt, that real partnership, is the only way to deal with the global challenges facing the world nations.
Distinguished Members, South Africa is extremely pleased to host the Fourth Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting. We are also delighted to have successfully convened two meetings of senior officials to prepare and lay the ground for this meeting. On behalf of all my colleagues, please allow me to express our heartfelt gratitude for the job well done.
In the true spirit of tripartism, our Social Partners have participated fully in this work, and we appreciate their hard work in contributing to the vibrancy of the labour and employment stream. We recognise the support rendered by both the International Labour, and the International Social Security Agency, who are today led by their respective heads Messrs Ryder and Konkolewsky. Again, they will be making presentations in this meeting.
South Africa is humbled for being given the opportunity to lead this partnership of powerful nations, who continue to play an important role in shaping global agenda.
Distinguished delegates; The recent BRICS Summit of leaders has demonstrated that indeed this partnership is not just a talk-shop among friends, but a meaningful partnership founded on action. As we work diligently towards realising our vision for the betterment of our citizens, it is important to remember that we have a huge task ahead of us.
Meeting the needs and expectations of no less than 3 billion people, and/or 42 percent of the global population residing in our five countries, is by no means a small mission.
We are confident however, that by utilising different platforms at our disposal, sharing and exchanging views on regulations and policies to shape our labour markets, will provide the necessary impetus towards achieving our stated objectives. The wealth of experience and expertise in the BRICS countries, gives us invaluable competitive edge and the much-needed recipe to deal with the global challenges. It is our ambition to see BRICS Member-Countries lead in championing the global economic system that promotes inclusive growth and sustainable development, as an antidote to eliminate unemployment, poverty and inequality.
Ladies and Gentlemen; We recall that our presidency identified Youth Employment; Gender, Equal Pay for Work of equal value; Social dialogue; Tripartism, Collective Bargaining and Social Protection, as key priority areas going forward. The presentations on the technical areas in respect of these priorities, were shared with the BRICS Member Countries. We will also have an opportunity to comment on these topics tomorrow morning.
First and foremost, we are pleased to announce that the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutes initiative, which was conceptualised in India and agreed in China, has finally come to life under our presidency.
The research met in the margins of the second officials’ meeting two days ago and crafted a way forward to deepen collaboration in research programmes on labour market matters. We look forward to hearing how the institutes will work with each other going forward.
We have put forward a three-year Working Implementation Plan for 2019-2021, to guide and ensure that all commitments taken at previous Labour and Employment Ministerial meetings, are not only implemented, but they also provide tangible outcomes for our efforts.
In this regard, we are very pleased that the Memorandum of Understanding regarding cooperation in the social and labour sphere, which was agreed on under the Russian Presidency, is also going to be signed during our Presidency.
We also want to underscore that the Labour and Employment track, is closely linked with other BRICS work streams such as finance, education, global economic realities, trade as well as science, technology and innovation. We are very pleased that these issues have been incorporated in the Draft Declaration for the Fourth Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting. It is our hope, that this will lead to more concrete projects to advance the mandate of the Labour and Employment track.
I look forward to your contributions as we deliberate on the issues on our agenda in the next two days.
I thank you.