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The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Siboniso Duma has called on labour experts, senior government officials and delegates attending the BRICS Employment Working Group to adopt a clear resolution spelling out a programme of action to save workers who are drowning in debts.
He was speaking in Durban during the first day of the meeting of the working group taking place ahead of the BRICS Ministers of Labour and Employment Conference scheduled to take place on Thursday.
He said negative economic conditions had imposed hardships on millions of people, especially the working class in the province. With the presentative of the International Labour Organisation and International Social Security Association in attendance, Duma expressed his optimism that a long lasting solution would be championed through BRICS in the interest of the working force.
“As KZN government we want to work with organized labour to seriously address the issue of employees who are in debts. Although I don’t have the latest statistics, I am aware that many workers in different spheres of government and in the private sector are drowning in debts. Garnishee orders in the public service leaves them with no salaries each month,” Duma explained.
He pointed out that a growing number of forecasts revealed that food prices were set to continue to rise sharply in coming months. He cited KwaZulu-Natal as one of the provinces affected by the rise in food and fuel prices.
“This complicated an already unbearable situation of poverty and squalor wherein our province recorded an estimated number of people that are food insecure to be more than 3.5-million – and more than 580,000 households,” he pointed out.
He announced that KZN Government was are also focusing on re skilling of the people of the province as one of the interventions. He told delegates that in his capacity as Leader of Government Business he had tasked his office to plan a meeting with key stakeholders to discuss the impact of economic recovery plans and to look how best they can work together to sharpen the skills of the workers who had been retrenched.
“We have an enduring partnership with key industry role-players such as COSATU, KZN Growth Coalition, the KZN Economic Council and KZN Human Resources Development Council which is comprised of representatives of academic institutions. We want to focus on a clear massive skilling revolution aimed at reskilling workers who have lost their jobs in both informal and formal economies. We want them to be re-absorbed in other sectors or in the new businesses.”
He said retrenched workers required assistance in order to open their businesses and operate in the following areas:-
- Construction labourers;
- Electricians and plumbers;
- Restaurants, Lounges, Tavern and Spaza Shops etc;
- Small scale famers and many others
“There are other workers in the creative industry, tourism and many other sectors too many to mention. With the right training, we want them to become entrepreneurs capable of creating job opportunities in the townships and rural areas,” he said.
“Better living and working conditions for workers is not a favour by a constitutional right which the democratic government has to uphold at all times. The country’s constitution guarantees human rights for all, the right to a minimum standard of life, including the right to access health, education, social security, food and water,” he conclude
Issued by KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs