COSATU: Asgisa – High hopes for Numsa members

Government’s recently released Accelerated and Shared Growth (Asgisa) strategy is already showing positive spin-offs in some Numsa companies.Charles Kubheka, a shop steward at Union Carriage, reports that his company has won a contract for the next five years to build train carriages. This is as a result of government pumping in R47 bn into Transnet. If all goes well, this contract could be extended by another 10 years.

Kubheka says that new jobs will probably only be created from October since new jigs have to be built to accommodate the new carriages.

Training and upgrading of skills of current employees will also take place during that time.

The major aim of Asgisa is to halve unemployment and poverty by 2014. (see box). Deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will lead the strategy supported by the departments of trade and industry, transport, minerals and energy and public enterprises.

Meanwhile Cosatu has warned that Asgisa is “not adequate to achieve the desired transformation of the economy.” It again called for government to come with a comprehensive industrial strategy.

It said it would only accept Asgisa if:

* all programmes are committed to shared growth and do not perpetuate current inequalities * rights for workers in small businesses are maintained * more detail is worked out on sectoral and infrastructure projects.

Government has acknowledged that Asgisa is not an industrial strategy and said that the department of trade and industry was busy finalising one.

What will Asgisa do?

Government will invest more than R370 billion in infrastructure – Eskom (R84 bn), Transnet (R47 bn), water (R19,7 bn) amongst others.
It will target certain sectors to create jobs: tourism, metals and metallurgy, biofuels, chemicals, agriculture, business process outsourcing (call centres) are just some of these.
Government accepts that there is a shortage of skills in the country. It will take measures to improve the quality of education, target ABET, further education and training as well as artisan skills which are scarce.
It will intervene to break down the historical inequalities between the first and second economy and link the two economies more strongly. Key interventions will be to promote local development, build cooperatives and make access to capital and to government contracts easier for cooperatives and small businesses. Expanded public works programmes will continue.
To reduce unemployment, government will work more closely with women and the youth and increase the numbers of young people taken up through the National Youth Service.
To improve the service that government provides, it will deploy experienced professionals and managers to local government.