NUMSA answers SAIRR on Labour market liberalisation

NUMSA answers SAIRR on Labour market liberalisation

31 January 2011

The NATIONAL UNION OF METALWORKERS (Numsa) deplores the comments attributed to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), John Kane-Berman, calling for labour market liberalisation in order to achieve the 5 million jobs as envisaged in the New Growth Path (NGP) recently unveiled by government.

He insinuate, in relation to the creation of 5 million jobs as propagated by government “We need to repeal all the labour laws and replace them with a basic employment act that guarantees certain fundamental rights like maternity leave and safety. We need to get rid of minimum wages and abolish bargaining councils”.

If truth be told, these insinuations by Kane-Berman are a direct onslaught on the workers’ rights achieved through the shedding of blood and various labour law interventions by the ANC-led Alliance government, and further Kane-Berman views fits squarely to the nauseous labour policies of the Democratic Alliance (DA). It is big lies that labour market liberalisation would assist in achieving the 5 million jobs target in the next 10 years.

At the core of South Africa’s social crisis is the fact, historically, of the condemnation of millions of Blacks and African workers in particular to inferior jobs, inferior wages and of course the unemployment and casualisation of labour. This is what informs our call for decent work for decent pay. This is what the SAIRR and its masters in the DA want to conceal in its reactionary calls for labour market liberalisation in order reap huge profit maximization from extremely cheap Black and African labour.

The SAIRR fable intellectual prestige and ideological orientation was relevant during the era of the National Party’s apartheid regime, and it should re-think its role in the current democratic epoch in sync with the aspirations of the poverty stricken people, the highly casualised and exploited workers of our country and the 70% unemployed youth in areas such as Diepsloot and Modimolle.

We are totally opposed to labour market liberalisation school of thought, which advances a reactionary path to full employment creation for workers to accept poverty wages, deny workers their rights for collective bargaining and de-unionisation of the workplace. Workers have made immense gains since the dawn of our democracy. If the SAIRR as the think-tank and economic policy mouthpiece of the DA wants labour market liberalisation, they are free to implement such in Helen Zille’s backyard.

The SAIRR and the DA fail to acknowledge the apartheid labour market fault-lines because they represent the interests of capitalists, who would retrench and casualize workers to maximize profits. We shall rather shed blood in resisting the imposition of the DA’s menu of neo-liberal labour market policies. It shall never see the light of day – Not in our name or in our lifetime.


Castro Ngobese, National Spokesperson – 073 299 1595


Numsa Press Release