In his address, November 4, 2014, Deputy President, Ramaphosa said; “We meet today to address obstacles that stand in the way of faster economic growth, create jobs and reduce inequality.
This Indaba presents us with a great opportunity to initiate meaningful changes in our economy. Our deliberations here, and the engagements that will follow, must necessarily strengthen our efforts to forge a common economic and social vision.
All social partners have responded enthusiastically to the call by President, Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address to engage on the challenges that face us in the labour relations environment.
The context of social dialogue in many parts of the world has changed. Countries are grappling with persistent unemployment, poverty, inequality and economic instability. As economies become increasingly stressed, so too do social bonds become increasingly frayed.
As South Africa, our ability to work together to overcome seemingly intractable problems is demonstrated in the nature of our democratic transition, the adoption of our Constitution, and the establishment of institutions like Nedlac.
As social partners, we need once again to engage in meaningful dialogue to confront these two particular challenges which are labour instability and wage inequality. By no means do these challenges represent the sum total of issues that we need to address in our economy or even in our labour relations environment.
But these two challenges are both urgent and critical. Effectively addressed, they will expand the capacity of our economy and improve the livelihoods of millions of our people.
They will provide a platform for greater social dialogue on the broader issues of economic and social transformation that we need to confront.
Settlement agreements take longer to conclude, strike action has increased, shop floor labour relations have weakened and, in some instances, confidence in trade unions has eroded.
Persistent inequality, weak economic performance, high unemployment and other socio-economic factors place pressure on the parties to collective bargaining and strain our labour relations regime.
Labour market vulnerability and job insecurity add to these pressures.There is a risk that our labour relations regime, which has been a positive force for change and which has attracted international praise, will be gravely weakened.
As we engage on these issues, let us work towards agreement on policies and interventions to address systemic challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Key to our chances of improving growth will be our ability, through social dialogue, to arrive at a shared vision, build trust and improve cooperation among all social partners.
I thank you