Crisis response

Decent Work Country Programme kicks-off in South Africa

The ILO and NEDLAC launch job-focused programme to tackle high unemployment and promote long-term investment

News | 08 October 2010

Job creation at the core of the new programme

The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) launched South Africa's first Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) aimed at strengthening fundamental principles and rights at work, promoting employment creation, broadening social protection coverage, and fostering social dialogue.

“If you don’t address the issue of unemployment you’re sitting on a time bomb,” Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana told reporters at the launch in Johannesburg. He further referred to the country’s efforts to tackle unemployment and poverty by creating jobs, especially for a “disillusioned and disgruntled” youth (unemployment rate among the youth reached an unprecedented 40 per cent in 2008).

Community members’ contributions to the drafting of the programme were highlighted as “unique” by the ILO Director in South Africa, Vic van Vuuren, who commended colleagues and social partners who worked together to make the programme a reality.

The programme, to be carried throughout 2010-2014, comes at an important juncture for South Africa, as the country struggles to overcome setbacks caused by the global economic crisis. Previous initiatives and programmes, like the Expanded Public Works Programme, have seen unemployment reduced to 22 per cent in 2008, until the economic crisis hit in the fourth quarter. Labour Minister Mdladlana highlighted job creation in his speech, saying government, business, labour and civil society have pinpointed this priority as the most important for South Africa. Mr Mdladlana said job creation will also cover the informal economy, hence enforcing and promoting labour standards and tripartism.

The Decent Work Agenda is premised on the idea that growth and development are best achieved and most evenly distributed through employment, a subject that concerns all people of all nations, regardless of their development stage. The demand for decent work is a global reality, as it goes hand in hand with social protection and security for workers and their families, with poverty eradication and development goals.

With the newly signed Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP), South Africa has taken a decisive step to promote decent work as a key component of its national development. In support of the DWCP, South Africa is furthermore actively being assisted in implementing the Global Jobs Pact through a national jobs pact, which aligns its policies with the current 4 priorities of the DWCP: strengthening fundamental principles and rights at work; promoting employment creation; strengthening and broadening social protection coverage; and strengthening tripartism and social dialogue.

For more information about the Global Jobs Pact and its implementation at national level, please contact