The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Labour, Derrick America MP, during the debate on the National Minimum Wage.
Honourable Speaker,the proposed national minimum wage will become one of the biggest barriers for any unemployed person in South Africa to get a job. Young and old will have no bargaining power to sell their labour.
This proposed national minimum wage and other labour legislation will barely protect the employed. There will be absolutely no protection for the unemployed. The reality is that the only way to reduce unemployment is by employing the unemployed and allowing them a chance to enter the job market.
The only person who has the right to decide on the level of his wage is the unemployed. Nobody speaks for the unemployed – they are voiceless, abandoned by government and dependent on others.
The Democratic Alliance believes that we need to grow the economy if we are to absorb the millions of young people who want to work, but cannot find employment. The Quarterly Labour Force Survey tells a sad tale of a country that is failing its youth.
The QLFS indicates that:
• 63,9% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed; and
• 42,8% of people between the ages of 25 and 34 are unemployed.
Every young unemployed person deserves a chance to access the education and job opportunities that are available in our country.
Young people in low-income communities face a number of disadvantages when it comes to accessing jobs. They don’t have the same social networks as young people in wealthier areas and they often don’t have money to access the internet to search for jobs, to print out CVs and to travel to job interviews. The ANC is failing our youth.
Therefore, the DA pledges its commitment to assist young disadvantaged South Africans in finding work by:
1. Introducing a job seekers’ allowance of R150 per month for all unemployed young people aged 18 to 34.
2. Rolling out a national Job Centres project where unemployed people can access job vacancies, undertake online courses and get assistance in preparing job applications or receive employment counselling.
3. Introducing a National Civilian Service to provide work experience for thousands of unemployed matriculants.
4. Provide incentives to businesses who employ more young people and those in long-term employment.
Speaker,noting that the National Minimum Wage will be bulldozed through Parliament by the ANC majority, the DA strongly believes that laws should not prevent people from earning a living on their own terms.
Over 9 million of our people experience long term unemployment. They tend to earn less once they are employed and are in poorer health than those workers who avoided unemployment.
Therefore, the DA will introduce various incentives and exemptions for employers in order to give unemployed people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more access to job opportunities and work-based skills training.
Madam Speaker,the Western Cape government continuously expends all its energy to create an environment for investment and job creation.
The Western Cape currently records the lowest official unemployment rate at 19.5% compared to a national rate of 27%.
It is clear that this government continues to create a resilient provincial economy in the face of the longest drought on record, by prioritising job creation which gives the people the opportunity to improve their lives and provide for their families.
Madam Speaker, the unemployed deserve a break. They deserve the dignity that a job will give them. They need to be heard. Most of all, they need a new beginning.
The DA is committed to working tirelessly to create jobs for the millions of unemployed South Africans and supporting legislation that protects vulnerable workers. We pledge to give all South Africa that new beginning in 2019.