Sunday, August 21, 2011
Gordhan 'is the new enemy'
Gordhan 'is the new enemy'
National Union of Metalworkers of SA general secretary Irvin Jim has threatened to call on President Jacob Zuma to fire Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for continuing to execute what he believes to be neo-liberal "anti-worker" policies.
Image: Gallo" "What the minister is saying is that there will be a two-tier system where young people will be paid starvation wages while working in the same companies where workers are currently. Articles
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Youth league right on jobs - academic After Numsa's central committee meeting last week, Jim launched a blistering attack on Gordhan, warning that workers would meet the minister "in the streets" as they now considered him the "enemy" for going ahead with the implementation of the controversial youth wage subsidy.
Gordhan this week told an internal auditors conference in Johannesburg that SA stood to create only four million jobs by 2025 unless it changed some labour policies.
He said laws may have to be relaxed so that young people could enter the workplace and acquire the skills and experience needed at lower wages.
Jim also attacked the government for failing to forge ahead with the banning of labour brokers.
"They are sitting in a cabinet that is reluctant to move swiftly and ban labour brokers. Instead, they are introducing the subsidy.
"What the minister is saying is that there will be a two-tier system where young people will be paid starvation wages while working in the same companies where workers are currently.
"For that, he must know where we are sitting. We think he has joined the enemy class and any minister who does that will meet workers of this country in the streets," said Jim.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said earlier this year that the ruling party also supported the implementation of the youth wage subsidy, and that it was budgeted for.
But Jim said if this was the case, then Numsa and its sister body Cosatu were poles apart from the ANC.
He vowed that government and industry players would not implement the youth wage subsidy in sectors where Numsa members were represented.
Cosatu condemned the initial proposal of the subsidy when Gordhan first announced it during his budget speech this year, saying it would lead to further exploitation of workers by their employers.
Numsa is also angry about Gordhan's recent call for less rigid labour laws as they were costing the country jobs. National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel came out in support of Gordhan's view.
Jim accused Gordhan and those who supported him of harbouring "right-wing" views and warned that the union would call on Zuma to replace him.
"There are people here who conceal their right-wing ideological stances, who are anti-worker, anti-working class and believe that the little that trade unions have been able to defend and improve on the conditions of workers is basically a problem.
"Those individuals are refusing to attack and deal with the fundamental question of what is required to be done to deal with the dominance of white monopoly capital in the SA economy. This economy is an enclave owned by the minority.
"If this continues, we as Numsa will not fall short and call on our own ANC to provide us with a minister who will be subordinating himself to the policies of the ANC. If he continues, we might be left with no option but to say 'we think that this minister has become a problem'," he said.
"They maintain inflation targeting, high interest rates and every time he is given a chance to do his budget speech, he further relaxes exchange controls and allows money to leave the country to casino economies in Melbourne and London."
Spokesperson Kershia Singh said Treasury "released a discussion paper in February on youth unemployment and proposals to address it. The paper is currently with Nedlac ... It is therefore not a new proposal".
Singh said Gordhan "did not call for a flexible labour market". What he had said was: "There is a strong view that we will have to do something in SA if, for example, we are to ensure that the tens of thousands of people who are employed in the clothing industry in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, are to retain their jobs, still get reasonably decent wages, but not be in a position where those businesses are closed because those businesses can't pay the same wages that are required by the bargaining council.
''There is also a strong view that unless we begin to create some dispensation which allows for younger workers to be employed in existing firms on a differential basis, without threatening the jobs of currently employed permanent staff, we will not be able to make the breakthroughs we need to reduce unemployment in SA," Gordhan said.