10 April 2019

South Africa: SA Puts On Hold Ratifying ILO's Convention 122

Government and its social partners have agreed to put on hold the signing of the International Labour Organization's Employment Policy Convention No. 122 in favour of developing the country's National Labour Policy first.

This decision was taken on Tuesday after talks between representatives of the ILO and South Africa's National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Convention 122 calls upon ratifying member States to promote and engage in genuine tripartite consultations on employment policies.

One of the benefits for South Africa to ratify Convention 122 would be the State's commitment and accountability to promoting "full, productive and freely chosen employment" in a tripartite framework.

Upon ratification, South Africa would be called upon to report regularly on the effect given to its provisions, and be required to provide detailed statistical information, disaggregated by age and sex, on the labour market and on employment trends in the country.

Department of Labour Chief Director: International Relations, Sipho Ndebele, said following the ILO's Gap Analysis presentation, South Africa was of the view that social partners needed more time to convene further and revisit the document.

"It is critical that we meet again as social partners and receive further inputs to close any existing gaps before we sign," Ndebele said.

Nedlac is the vehicle through which government, labour, business and community organisations cooperate through problem-solving and negotiation on economic, labour and development issues facing the country.

The social partners were in unison during the workshop that they have a joint responsibility to deal with the country's stubbornly high unemployment rate (especially that of youth) hovering at 27%.

South Africa, in its efforts to meet the Southern African Development Community (SADC) commitments on International Labour Standards, is engaged in a ratification process of ILO Employment Policy Convention 122.

The Convention requires national employment policy to be positioned as a major goal within the national agenda

According to the ILO's Employment Instrument specialist, Anna Torriente, to date, Employment Policy Convention 122 has been signed by 113 countries; 24 of these in Africa and South Africa is the only BRICS country that has not signed the Convention.

Torriente said Convention 122 was flexible in that it allows the country to analyse its own situation, identify gaps and implement its own labour market policy measures to deal with employment.

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