Proudly South Africa CEO Eustace Mashimbye has said that South Africa’s trade union movement is an important player in ridding the country of its unemployment challenges, which has yielded poverty.
He was speaking at the Policing Indaba, held by the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, in Johannesburg, where he pleaded with unions to buy local goods to curb job losses in the country.
The country has 11.9-million people who are eligible to work, he said, adding that youth unemployment was a ticking time bomb.
He said manufacturing had the ability to absorb many people into the workforce.
He referenced the furniture industry, which he said had 3 500 factories in 1999 but, to date, owing to imports, half of those jobs had been lost.
“Every time the [procurement] department decides to buy abroad, jobs are lost,” Mashimbye said.
He added that the phenomenon was not unique to South Africa but stressed that buying locally retained jobs.
Mashimbye said the clothing and textile industry had also suffered massive job losses, with many areas becoming ghost towns, as many organisations, including unions, bought their uniforms abroad instead of locally.
He said the importance of localisation would be its equipping those who were unemployed with skills.
He also addressed the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which was represented by its president Zingiswa Losi, and said more could be done to put pressure to drive localisation. He urged union shop stewards to demand from procurement departments that, where possible, localisation should be prioritised especially on food items, uniforms, vehicles, stationery and cleaning products.
“Once we start dealing with the unemployment issues, we will be halfway in dealing with the social ills,” Mashimbye said.