Finding a new work in progress social pact: Thulas Nxesi

Employment and Labor Minister Thulas Nxesi said the search for a new social pact is a work in progress as the country grapples with the burden of socio-economic challenges and the rapid changes that are happening in the workplace after COVID-19.

“We need to engage with some speed on the difficult issues such as labor law reform, the employment services bill and migration policy.

“It’s still a work in progress. It hasn’t been easy. But we can be reassured that the parties are committed and committed to finding each other,” Nxesi said.

The Minister was delivering the keynote address at the 27th Annual National Summit of the National Economic Development and Labor Council (Nedlac) which was held on Friday.

The summit brought together government, organized business, community and labor representatives.

Nxesi said persistently high unemployment remains South Africa’s number one priority. He called on all social partners to continue to engage, find and build on areas of collaboration and seek to engage their constituents.

“As we work on this societal social pact, we must bear in mind that on a practical level there are many other social pacts in South Africa that we must recognize and support.

“Nedlac needs to be at the forefront of growing the practice of social compaction as a way of working. We see this already starting to happen. Over time, we see Nedlac’s role evolving as being the pinnacle of social compaction – supporting and collaborating with other sectors, provinces or local social compacts,” he said.

The general head of community constituencies, Thulani Tshefuta, said social compaction between constituencies is not “about pleasing each other, but dealing with the socio-economic issues facing the country”.

Organized Labor General Coordinator Bheki Ntshalintshali has warned that the country must take urgent action to alleviate unemployment.

future of work

Reflecting on the ever-changing workplace and the jobs of the future, Nxesi said there needs to be a focus on sustainability, just transitions from old to new, technological changes and the reorganization of work.

He reiterated his support for the report of the International Labor Organization’s Global Commission on the Future of Work, which calls for “a human-centred agenda for the future of work”, placing people and work they do at the center of economic and social policy. , and business practices.

The report calls for a human-centred, forward-looking agenda focused on developing the human capabilities needed to thrive in carbon-neutral economies and in the digital age.

The ILO report further calls on stakeholders to take responsibility for building a fair and equitable future of work.

“I think we should say that recent events, particularly the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have accelerated these trends and underscore the need for solution-oriented research.

“Obviously we now have the widespread phenomenon of ‘working from home’. We are still awaiting conclusions on the long-term effects of this, although I know it has led to a major reprioritization of government budgets and private sector,” Nxesi said.

He said that after the country emerged from the worst of the pandemic and sought to rebuild, Nedlac also brought the social partners together with the government to develop the program for economic reconstruction and recovery.

The ERRP has since developed around a series of work streams, including energy, transport and logistics, and small, medium and micro-enterprises.

Nxesi said Nedlac must be proactive in addressing key challenges, and must be nimble and contemporary in addressing topical issues such as cost of living and energy.

He warned that Nedlac should not allow itself to turn into a forum for negotiation when there are forums for negotiation.

Reimage

Cas Coovadia, Head of Organized Business and Managing Director of Business Unity South Africa (Busa), said there was a dire need to revamp Nedlac.

Coovadia said Nedlac needs to review its mandate and consider whether it is still “fit for purpose”. He said the institution has historically played a constructive role in managing socio-economic challenges, including COVID-19.

“The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we are representative and whether our mandate is sufficient. It is encouraging, however, that these are issues that we are discussing at the level of government structures,” Coovadia said.

According to the Department of Employment and Labour, the annual Nedlac summit provides a platform to reflect and discuss policy responses.

“Nedlac is the vehicle through which government, labor, business and community organizations seek to cooperate – through problem solving and negotiation – on economic, labor and development issues, and related challenges facing the country. is facing,” the department said.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)