Zuma marshals urgent plan to save economy

After calling a conference with key social partners, business, labour and civil society, to address severe challenges faced by the economy, President Jacob Zuma released yesterday what was passed as conclusions for a way forward.

These conclusions feature strong worded calls including normalisation of the mining industry which has been dogged by a series of violent strikes, a call to frees executive salary increases and bonuses over the next twelve months and a promise to improve living conditions of mineworkers. The statement also featured what looks like proposals to rekindle economic activity in the face of the global economic slowdown. Here follows the full statement.

 Media Statement by President Jacob Zuma on the conclusion of the Social Dialogue Meeting on the State of the Economy

 Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

Today I convened a follow-up meeting of senior leaders in government, business, labour and community organisations following the session we held on Friday evening.

The constituents were led by the Presidents of Business Unity South Africa, the Black Business Council, Cosatu, Fedusa and Nactu; and the overall convenor of the community constituency at Nedlac. Ministers from the Economic Sector were present at the meeting.

The parties considered the domestic economic situation as well as pressures from the global slowdown.

We received a report from the Committee that we established on Friday evening to craft a response to the crisis we discussed.

We have emerged today with one voice, one message and strong confidence in our capacity as a society to address the immediate challenges we face and to lay the basis for long-term growth and job creation.

The parties agree to take steps to improve public and investor confidence in the economy and in social stability, using their respective resources and capacities to build a partnership for development.

We are agreed that the industrial relations environment in the mining sector must be normalised as a matter of priority.

Processes to address the grievances of workers have now been put in place and we wish these processes to be concluded speedily.

We call on workers who are engaged in unprotected strikes to return to work as soon as possible and for production in the mining industry to be normalised.

We are of the common view that our collective bargaining system is broadly sound, that the integrity of the system must be defended.

The system should constantly ensure that it becomes more responsive to pressures and challenges in the labour market and the economy.

We are agreed that violence and intimidation must come to an end. These have no role in our system and simply have a negative effect.

The constitutionally-protected rights to protest and strike must be exercised peacefully. We will not compromise on this.

The parties fully support all lawful action by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to stabilise communities and normalise daily life across all communities.

We assure workers that we recognise the frustrations and challenges that have become clearer during the protests and the legitimate grievances will be attended to.

These include addressing the housing needs of mining communities; the pressures on wages caused by high levels of personal debt; and the challenge of high income and wage disparities that create resentment and limit our social cohesion as South Africans.

We have developed an action package that covers a number of interventions to address these.

While many Accords and Social Agreements have been reached in the past, we want this to be different in the speed and focus of our implementation.

We will monitor implementation at the highest level, with Ministers and social partner leaders meeting regularly and reporting to me.

An implementation plan has already been developed in government. Specific public agencies such as DBSA, SANRAL, the IDC, Eskom among others have been given responsibilities and timeframes.

The parties agree that a package of economic and socio-economic measures is necessary to address underlying social pressures and to act as a stimulus to pressures on the local economy as a result of slowing global growth.

To this end, we have developed measures dealing with:

1. accelerated infrastructure rollout to create jobs and provide the basis for social inclusion and growth.

2. the living conditions of mining communities.

3. measures to address the challenges faced by workers and companies affected by the global economic slowdown.

4. measures to consider job creation through public sector work programmes.

5. addressing the growth of reckless lending.

The social partners agree that the time is ripe for the establishment of a new partnership to urgently address the development of sustainable human settlements in key mining districts of South Africa.

A taskforce is being established by the Presidency to bring together relevant government authorities with leaders from business, organised labour and communities to plan the new partnership.

Particular focus will be given to;

Identifying common priorities and roles for each partner.

Addressing blockages to the proper use of budgeted resources at local government level

Integrating local urban development initiatives with the national infrastructure-building plan and utilising better the considerable resources that mining companies have made available to meet their commitments under the Mining Charter.

It is agreed to focus on key secondary mining towns and areas, including:

· Rustenburg

· Lephalale

· Emalahleni

· West Rand

· Welkom

· Klerksdorp

· Carletonville

We will move with the requisite sense of focus and urgency to implement this.

Business commits to use monies provided for in Social Plans as well as other social interventions to support local social and economic development.

Trade unions and community organisations commit to mobilise local communities for development and in support of the initiatives set out herein.

The parties agree that steps need to be taken urgently to address the large income inequalities in SA, which are a primary risk to our future as a sustainable and successful society.

To this end, it will require commitments by those in executive positions to tighten their belts as part of building a shared commitment to prosperity and growth.

The parties make a call on CEOs and executive directors in the private sector and senior executives in the public sector to agree to a freeze in increases in salary and bonuses over the next 12 months, as a strong signal of a commitment to build an equitable economy. They call for an informed national conversation on income inequalities and how best to address them.

The parties will set up a committee to consider the local and international experience in addressing income inequalities and will develop further proposals within the next six months.

We will also work to conclude the youth employment accord, monitor the implementation of accords concluded last year and also continue the dialogue on social security and health reform.

The package is a step towards a wider process to use social dialogue to build a common vision on jobs, growth, social equity and development.

These processes will continue after today’s announcement.

The High-Level Council will meet, in association with Nedlac, under my chairpersonship, to receive regular reports on progress.

I now call on all South Africans to join me, with the leadership of our business organisations, the trade union movement and community organisations, to work together to make this initiative a success.

We have a responsibility to our country, our common future, to act as one.

I thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *