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International Labour Organisation
Decent work pivotal to economic growth - Oliphant
Wed, 20 Jun 2012 15:52
Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, addressed some of the challenges facing the labour market while reaffirming her department’s plans to continue its focus on creating decent work opportunities.
Her speech was drafted in response to the issues raised by the International Labour Organisation Director-General’s report.
“Central to our approach in South Africa is… to contribute through effective social dialogue to the creation of more and better jobs.”
“The New Growth Path adopted by the South African government as the framework for economic policy and the country’s jobs strategy makes decent work central to efforts to stimulate the rate of economic growth and the employment intensity of that growth.”
The draft National Development Plan – Vision for 2030 for South Africa currently being finalised has also played a significant role in elevating decent work said the Minister.
“The plan recognises the importance of balancing the need for faster expansion of employment opportunities with the protection of labour rights.”
The Minister emphasised the need for ‘clear measurement and monitoring frameworks’ to evaluate progress, as the feasibility of policies for decent work is expected to come under severe scrutiny.
“In this regard, the South African Decent Work Country Programme has made good progress in formulating a set of Decent Work Indicators drawing on official statistics available in South Africa, complemented by administrative data.”
“The technical support of the ILO must be acknowledged in this regard and also in relation to the support provided in a number of other areas. ILO Technical Assistance has been provided to the country’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and also to the more recently established Community Works Programme. In the light of the structural unemployment problem faced by South Africa, public works programmes continue to have an important place in our active labour market policies.”
Outgoing Director-General, Mr Juan Somavia was highly commended for his contributions, particularly to the International Labour Organisation.
Excerpt taken from the address delivered by the Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant in response to the ILO Director-General’s report to the 101st session of the International Labour Conference:
In implementing the Decent Work agenda in Africa, we need strong international agencies to provide guidance and technical support now more than ever. There are many challenges in the labour market and many vulnerable workers that need the standards and services provided by the ILO.
The standard setting work of the ILO and the labour market governance conventions will play a particularly important role. As highlighted by the outgoing Director-General in his opening address, respect for fundamental principles and rights at work come under pressure in a time of economic uncertainty. In South Africa, there has been a sustained campaign through the media and by commentators calling for deregulation of the labour market and relaxation of dismissal requirements.
We have, however, made progress towards ratification of Convention 81 on Labour Inspection, Convention 129 on Labour inspection on farms and Convention 189 on Domestic Workers. Work is also progressing on a review of our Code of Good Practice and Technical Assistance guidelines on HIV/AIDS in the light of ILO Recommendation number 200 concerning HIV and AIDS and the World of Work.
With technical assistance of the ILO, we have recently completed an analysis of the prospects of ratification of ILO Convention 102: Social Security (Minimum Standards). This should be viewed in the context of strengthening social security as a response to the global economic crisis and enhancing the Decent Work Agenda.
The South African government is confident that the voice of labour is more audible on the international stage now than it was a decade ago, in part due to the efforts of the Director-General. And this is as it should be. In the context of weak economic growth, a resurgence of austerity and calls for greater labour market flexibility, the interests of labour will need strong support in the years ahead.
Allow me then to congratulate Mr. Guy Ryder on his election as the 10th Director-General of the ILO with effect from October 2012. Mr. Ryder’s outstanding track record in the ILO and the international trade union movement will no doubt stand him in good stead as Director-General. He can be assured of our continued support.