NUMSA Memorandum to Government on the need for a people’s budget to combat poverty, unemployment and inequality
To: Mr. Sizani Phumelele Stone
Chief Whip of the Majority Party
National Assembly Parliament RSA
Date: Wednesday 26 February 2014
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa on behalf of 341150 members has been mandated to register our concern over the deepening levels of poverty and the crisis of unemployment and inequality in our country. Yesterday, we endorsed the People’s Alternative Budget Speech presented to this parliament by the Budget Expenditure and Monitoring Forum (BEMF). Today we have come here to reinforce the call from millions of South Africans and progressive social movements for social justice and economic emancipation. After 20 years of democracy we have witnessed the liberalisation of our economy and the imposition of several macro-economic policies that have continuously called for wage restraint, the deregulation of the market, labour flexibility, the use of labour brokers and the erosion of collective bargaining gains. For some the material benefits after apartheid just got better, but for the vast majority of South Africans income levels have widened followed by rising levels of unemployment, poverty and socio-economic exclusion.
In response to the State of the Nations’ Address by President Jacob Zuma on the 13 February 2014 and on the basis of our submission on the 2013 Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) to the joint meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Finance, NUMSA is of the view that government has not delivered adequately on the five priority areas identified in the manifesto of the ruling party:
– Creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods
– Rural development, food security and land reform
– The fight against crime and corruption
Creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods
The ticking time-bomb of youth unemployment, inequality and poverty is exploding. On average three service delivery protests are taking place daily. In some townships and rural areas, unemployment amongst African youth exceeds 60%. Average youth unemployment across all race groups is 47.5% and it’s not going down. Young people cannot find jobs – some will never have jobs in their life-time.
There is no government unemployment benefit for those that have never worked. Even for those that have worked, prescribed benefits in the form of UIF are limited. Employed workers and old age pensioners are forced to divide their meagre earnings amongst an ever increasing extended family of unemployed members.
The Employment Tax Incentive Act (ETIA) will fail to solve the crisis of unemployment. It effectively subsidises employers for taking on workers whom they would have employed anyway. It will not encourage real employment creation. It discourages decent work. It will lead to the displacement of unsubsidised workers.
The crisis of unemployment is structural, and it does not only hit the youth. It is rooted in the economic fault lines we inherited from our colonial and apartheid past – weak infrastructure, monopolies and cartels, an economy over-dependent on the export of raw materials, and dysfunctional education that side-lines millions and denies them the necessary skills. Many of the unemployed youth should indeed not be in the job market at all but still at school, acquiring skills and increasing their employability potential.
Even the Youth Employment Accord says, “additional urgency needs to be injected in job-creation efforts and a national consensus on ways to grow youth and total employment is necessary”. The measures must however provide genuine solutions, with proper, sustainable jobs, with decent wages, safe and healthy working conditions and education and training. Again the accord, calls for “sustainable, decent work opportunities” and insists on avoiding “youth employment schemes that simply displace older workers”.
This is a clear rejection of the dangerous notion embodied in the ETIA that “any job is better than none”, even if it delivers no training, pays poverty wages, displaces an existing job and disappears after a few months. The billions of tax-payers’ money which are to be handed to employers under the ETIA should rather be used to create decent jobs and to expand free education.
Employers too have a role in resolving the unemployment problem. They should take on apprentices, learners and interns all of whom are required by law to be trained and mentored. They should find a way to support disadvantaged schools in their area and to link directly with FET colleges so that the skills that students learn in colleges can be more directly related to the skills that workplaces need.
WE THEREFORE DEMAND FROM GOVERNMENT:
- Free tertiary education that will provide skills for employability or for self-employment
- Commitment to the implementation of proposals on youth unemployment in the DHET White Paper for Post-School Education & Training, theNew Growth Path framework and related Accords like the Youth Accord
- Stronger links between colleges (FETs) and industry
- Opportunities for research and innovation that inspires young people to build the society we envisage.
- Career guidance at schools to match youth to skills needed in the economy.
- Infrastructure projects to train local youth.
- 7. Legislation to enforce the indenturing of learners, apprentices, interns etc by employers and government institutions with penalties for non-compliance.Concern: could potentially entrench a dual labour market. It also opens the scope for exploitation. And in the worst case scenario it entrenches poverty for working class youth, as wealthier youth can rely on their families and networks while earning as interns, learners etc
- Train apprentices, learners, experiential learners and interns to achieve qualifications.
- Job seekers’ allowance.
- Jobs for youth that will benefit society as a whole.
WE DEMAND from employers:
- Invest in your workforce through training and development.
- Increase intake of interns, apprentices, learnersin your workplace and ensure they achieve qualifications.
- Support technical training colleges (FETs) and disadvantaged schools in your area.
- Those that win tenders for infrastructure projects must train local youth.
- Register your experiential learners and comply with industry/sector minimum wages and working conditions.
- LIVING WAGE and a LIVING INCOME for all. We support the mineworkers demand of R12,500
- FREE BASIC SERVICES, including but not limited to housing, water & sanitation, electricity, education, health and safety for all
- END TO OUTSOURCING and all other forms of privatisation
- DECENT WORK FOR ALL! Ban labour brokers! End retrenchments!
- NATIONALISATION OF LAND AND INDUSTRY UNDER WORKERS CONTROL!
- Freedom of association for all farm workers. End all anti-union activity. End all threats, victimization, intimidation and discrimination against union members and workers wanting to join a union!
- No less than R150 per day (8 hour working day) as a step towards a living wage.
- Ban labour brokers and piecework.
- Total equality between men and women in the workplace. There is gross discrimination against women in terms of wages and working conditions.
- End evictions of farm workers and farm dwellers.
- Land for farm workers and farm dwellers under workers control.
In his State of the Nation Address the president made reference to the increased numbers of pupils in Grade R (700 000 in 2011), improvements in adult literacy, increased matriculant pass rate (78%), replacement of mud schools and steps to improve teacher training and qualifications. However, according to a recent report released by the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) on the provision of education infrastructure in the Eastern Cape: the Department of Basic Education has thus far failed to meet its targets for mud school eradication projects as administered by the Accelerated Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). The plan is now scheduled to be completed over a 5 year period as opposed to the original 3 years.
Other shortcomings highlighted in the report include:
– Teacher shortages
– Unavailability of operational plans for 2013/2014
– School Nutrition Programme (SNP) – no specific targets outlined in the Departments Annual Performance Plan to enhance local food production:
The SNP, being a conditional grant, has a limited timeframe and the Departments‟ failure to set targets to enhance sustainable, local food production to supplement the SNP decreases the chances of schools becoming independent of the grant. (Kota, 2013)
Recently the Legal Resource Centre representing the Centre for Child Law and seven Eastern Cape school lodged a successful application in the Eastern Cape High Court in Mthatha on the DoE’s failure to provide ‘adequate age and grade appropriate school furniture’. The judge ruled as follows:
“The state’s obligation to provide basic education as guaranteed by the constitution is not confined to making places available at schools,” Judge Goosen said. “It necessarily requires the provision of a range of educational resources: schools, classrooms, teachers, teaching materials and appropriate facilities for learners.” (Business Day, 23 Feb 2014)
Unless we have a budget that addresses the serious problems of teacher-pupil ratio, overcrowding will persist in all our public schools to the detriment of learners.
While President JZ highlighted the achievements in improved health care (10 new hospitals) and the successful turnaround strategy in dealing with HIV and AIDS including the anti-retroviral treatment programme and decline in mother to child transmission, the Centre for Rural Health argues that the provision of health care in rural areas is inadequate:
- Lower utilization health care services due to transport and distance (Jackson et all, 2006 and Reach 2009)
- Of poor households, 15% live more than an hour from the closest clinic and 20% live more than an hour from the closest hospital (Econex, 2010)
- Catastrophic transport costs for 15% of people seeking outpatient care in rural areas (Harris et al., 2011)
- In addition to geography basic care often not available, due to:
– Inadequate infrastructure
– Unreliable supply of medicines (regular stock-outs)
– Lack of ambulatory care
– Maldistribution of health care professionals (38 % of population but only 12% of the doctors and 19% of nurses)
- Large inequities persist within public health expenditure
- Primary Health Care (PHC) expenditure per capita (uninsured person) continues to steadily increase, from R291 in 2004/05 to R684 in 2011/12
- Limpopo and Mpumalanga, which are both largely rural provinces, have the lowest PHC per capita expenditure of R589 and R571 respectively
- Gauteng and the Western Cape have significantly higher per capita spending of R760 and R798 respectively
Citing from Econex Health Reform Note 8, the Centre for Rural Health says that South Africa’s regional distribution of doctors per 100, 000 (both private and public) are located as follows: LP (17), NW (20), E Cape (31) and N Cape (37) while the highest number are to be found in Gauteng (102) and the W Cape (135). This is problematic given that too few doctors are located in provinces that are geographically rural.
The Centre for Rural Health argues that the ‘NHI development must be revisited with rural-proofing in mind … and that care must be free at the point of service delivery’.
Rural Development, food security and land reform
In 2013 the country commemorated the victims of the notorious 1913 Land Act and yet the majority of South Africans continue to be deprived of land in the country of their birth. We demand that the 2014 Budget recognises that there is a pressing need for land redistribution with a focus on food security and sustainable livelihoods.
The current backlogs in housing and the poor quality of homes undermine the constitutional rights of the people of our country who are entitled to decent housing, access to water, electricity and sanitation. While we acknowledge that some progress has been made over the last 20 years, privatisation of services has led to a number of disconnections – the net result has been service delivery protests across the country. NUMSA calls on government to stop disconnections and make service delivery a reality – we cannot expect our people to continue living in shacks and informal settlements and demand that government seriously address the housing problem in the country as called for in the Freedom Charter.
Fighting crime and corruption
According to a report published by Corruption Watch, 5485 reports of alleged corruption were received since the organisation was launched in January 2012, and 2262 reports were received in 2013 ‘with a marked improvement in overall reporting quality (Corruption Watch Report) The report highlighted corruption in government, as well as the top four sectors in corruption reports in 2013:
Corruption in Government
Tier of Government
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|Traffic and Licensing||10%|
According to Corruption Watch, irregularities in the procurement process, embezzlement of funds, school governing body maladministration and corruption in employment have put our schools at risk. However, while Corruption Watch has welcomed steps by the Department of Public Service to ‘stem the flow’ of corruption, the organisations Executive Director, David Lewis has this to say:
But very troubling dark spots remain … those who have followed the Nkandla saga, or the doings of Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson or the former minister of Communications , Dina Pule, will conclude that with the right political connection you could get away with anything.
NUMSA will continue to oppose the capitalist driven Budget until such time that the needs of the people of this country are addressed in a meaningful and constructive manner and in a way that seeks to eradicate poverty, unemployment and inequality. NUMSA will continue to implement the resolutions adopted at its Special National Congress in December 2013 and channel all available resources towards building a united front and movement for socialism. In this way we hope to make the pillars of the Freedom Charter a reality.
Presented by NUMSA
Date 26 Feb 2014
Name and Signature:
Received on behalf of Government
Date: 26 Feb 2014
Name and Signature: