The Congress of South African Trade Unions is looking forward to the Investment Summit taking place from 5th to 7th November. The country is dealing with a crisis of unemployment and thousands of workers are being retrenched every month across many sectors of the economy. There are about 400 000 new job seekers who enter the economy each year, whilst our economy trudges along at barely 1% growth.
While it is commendable that we continue to discuss possible solutions to our economic crisis, we need to see more implementation. The government and the private sector have been very lethargic implementing the outcomes of the previous summits. The Presidential Working Committee is now meeting monthly at COSATU’s insistence to ensure that the Jobs Summit Agreements are implemented in full.
Drastically increasing investment levels is critical to defeating unemployment and growing the economy. For many years a domestic investment strike has hamstrung economic growth and left many families with no source of income.
Whilst not all the 2018 Investment Summit targets have been met, we have seen a significant increase in investment inflows. According to the South African Reserve Bank, 2019 has seen the highest level of investment inflows into South Africa in five (5) years.
The 2018 Investment Summit yielded commitments of R300 billion. So far, the 2019 Summit has yielded initial commitments to the value of R125 billion. These will help the government reach the R1.2 trillion 2023 target.
COSATU is pleased with the Department of Trade and Industry’s efforts working with business and organized-labour to craft sectoral master plans to grow fourteen (14) key sectors of the economy.
Already sectoral plans are in place in the auto-manufacturing and will soon be signed for the poultry, as well as the clothing, textile, footwear and leather industries.
Green shoots have begun to appear in auto-manufacturing with the opening of new plants in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape and a 10% rise in car exports in 2018. The clothing has stabilised and has begun to create jobs and we are now confident it can reach its target of creating 120 000 jobs in the sector.
COSATU and its affiliate SACTWU played a key role in ensuring Edcon and its 140 000 direct and indirect jobs were saved earlier this year. Labour’s contribution included R1.2 billion in funding from the UIF.
Whilst welcoming the Investment Summit and hoping it exceeds the government’s targets, COSATU hopes that the government and industry will not forget its purpose, namely, to grow the economy and ensure all workers have decent permanent jobs. Jobless growth is a recipe for social instability. Exorbitant profits at the expense of retrenching workers will only serve to deepen our levels of poverty and inequality.
COSATU supports the inclusive approach of DTI and the Presidency to addressing the massive challenges facing the economy and workers. We hope that the National Treasury will also learn from these positive examples.
Lastly, the federation is warning investors, that whilst we welcome investments, workers will not accept slave wages and the eradication of their rights. Investors have a right to lobby for acceptable investment conditions, but they do not have a right to their own slaves. Workers’ rights are not negotiable, and we expect all investors to respect our labour laws. Those who break these progressive laws must face the full consequences.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794