Latest statistics show no relief for the unemployed


Xolile Mpini | CEO | Langeberg Unemployed Forummail me | 

Weary, weary, weary, weary ends my day! This is what I hear from the members of our organisation. They say that looking for the job you can’t find makes you more tired than doing a day of hard work. Working hard, knowing that tomorrow the job will still be there, waiting for you, gives you hope and energy.

The end of September 2020 figures from Stats SA continue to tell the story of a country that has lost direction and has run out of ideas.

We can still live with that but when government is given good ideas that can change the labour market in a matter of days, and it does nothing, we start to look forward to more weary days. And it is unnecessary.

The solution

Before describing the problem let us describe the solution, which is to implement the Job Seekers Exemption Certificate (JSEC) as quickly as possible.

The JSEC works like this: The unemployed person is given a JSEC, which exempts them for at least two years from all the laws that are keeping them unemployed. This gives them the chance to find a job, learn skills, change jobs a few times and find a job that suits them best.

There must be a basic employment agreement but the JSEC holder must have the right to enter into the agreement on any conditions and at any wage they find acceptable.

The JSEC holder is therefore entitled to work for employers on a basis that takes away any fear the employer would otherwise have of breaking the law if they give that person a job under conditions that are not allowed by the labour laws.

The figures for end of September 2020 tell us that 6.583 million people were unemployed but looking for jobs, and then there were another 2.696 million people who they call ‘discouraged workers’ who did not recently look for a job.

This makes a total of 9.279 million unfortunate people out of a total workforce without jobs. But there is another figure that tells us that the total of the unemployed is, really,11.145 million people. That means the total unemployed is 43.14 per cent of the possible workforce, which numbers 25.836 million people.

Bringing the unemployed percentage down

These figures are shocking but with a little help from an economist we can make some comparisons that show how shocking they are.

The USA has a potential workforce of 165 million people and an unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent, which is 11.385 million people, just 245,000 more than South Africa.

It is time for SA to start trying to compete on the percentage of USA unemployed, that means bringing the unemployed percentage down to about 7% of the total workforce, and the total number of unemployed down to under 2 million.

This can be done if the government adopts our proposal of the Job Seekers Exemption Certificate. The reduction in unemployment will not happen overnight but it will happen quicker than any other method that we have seen used anywhere else.

The reason why it will work is because it puts the power in the hands of the unemployed. It will allow our members, and others, to knock on doors, speak to employers and make arrangements with them that are now not allowed by law.

It is in the area of conditions of employment, and the amount of wages, that the unemployed must be given the right to bargain with employers. No one should have the right to tell an unemployed person at what price they can sell their labour.

The great American economist, Thomas Sowell, keeps telling everyone the truth but governments just don’t listen. The truth is that the real minimum wage is R0 (zero), niggis, nada. That is what millions of South Africans ‘earn’!

Liberating the unemployed

There is a simple answer. Liberate the unemployed. Let them decide for themselves for how much they will do a job. But this has to go further.

If a young woman or man wanted to enter into a contract today to do a certain job every week-day for R1,000.00 per month, my understanding is that the contract would be illegal and the employer could be fined and forced to pay back-pay up to the minimum wage. The employer would also have to register the employee with SARS and pay UIF.

What is the consequence for young South Africans who are ‘protected’ by the labour laws from taking such jobs? The number of these unfortunate young people keeps growing.

Of those between 15 to 24 years old, 2.280 million (74.12%) out of a total of 3.076 million, were unemployed. Of those between 25 to 34 years old, 4.251 million (49.84%) out of a total of 8.530 million were unemployed.

These numbers are very worrying, but what is equally worrying is that there appears to be no major plan coming from government about how these unemployed people are ever going to get jobs.

In conclusion

Is government just shrugging its shoulders and hoping that if they wait long enough the problem will go away.

It is time to do sums to illustrate what the unemployed could do for the economy of the country if they all had jobs and were each earning a modest wage of R2,500 each. Bear in mind that they would be producing more for their employers than they would be paid in wages.

The total earnings of the 11.145 million people, earning an average of R2,500 per month each, would be R27.862 billion and for a year would be R334.350 billion.

Surely getting these people working, with many of them putting a foot on the earnings ladder for the first time, is worth receiving serious attention from government.



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