Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi should visit the Western Cape to witness the "positive impact" of a youth wage subsidy, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said yesterday, as the party continued its fight to get the government to introduce a universal youth wage subsidy.
The DA and Cosatu clashed in Johannesburg last week after the opposition party marched to the union federation’s head office in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, in support of the subsidy. Cosatu is opposed to the R5-billion subsidy, saying it would lead to older employees losing their jobs.
Last week, President Jacob Zuma indicated his support for the subsidy and said the matter was still being discussed at the National Economic Development and Labour Council.
› DA invites Cosatu to see subsidy at work
› Ramaphosa: ANC needs selfless leaders
The Western Cape government has its own youth wage subsidy scheme - the Work and Skills for 100 000 - designed to provide unemployed youths with six months’ work experience. By providing a R1200 stipend for each employee, the provincial department of Economic Development and Tourism provides an incentive to hire unemployed youths.
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said yesterday she would write to Mr Vavi "and urge him to come and see this success for himself, so that he can base his position on evidence, and not merely ideology".
"Indeed, Cosatu remains the only stumbling block to implementing the policy on a national level.... Zwelinzima Vavi relies on baseless arguments, such as that this policy would result in older workers losing their jobs...." Ms Mazibuko said.
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said it was not policy to engage with the DA.
"Our differences are fundamental. It is not just the wage subsidy.... their policies are all pro-business," Mr Craven said.
He said it was unlikely Mr Vavi would listen to the DA’s request.
DA leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said the provincial government had long realised that the lack of practical experience was one of the main barriers to job entry.
She said it was critical to try out policies and that President Jacob Zuma had to stick to his promise on the subsidy, instead of appeasing Cosatu ahead of the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) elective conference.
The ANC in the province said yesterday the DA’s claim that it had developed a wage subsidy system was untruthful. It said the programme was its brainchild and was introduced during Lynne Brown’s tenure as premier.
"The DA’s bleating and bragging is blunt in the light of the true facts. It once more proves the DA only piggybacks on ANC plans and has not come up with something new yet," Ms Brown said.