BRICS will have to wake up since the organisation is so far a sleeping giant on key international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (IOL) and G20.
This was the key message of the Minister of Employment and Labour, Mr. Thulas Nxesi in his opening speech to the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting (LEMM) which started this morning, 28 September, and will run until tomorrow, 29 September at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Umhlanga in Durban.
At least ten ministers will partake in this meeting from BRICS members and countries like Cuba, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The meeting of the LEMM follows a successful two-day session of the BRICS Employment Working Group (EWG), which reached a number of outcomes that aim to promote collaborative initiatives and enhance social protection among the BRICS countries.
The minister said BRICS has so far not optimised its collective strength in the IOL and G20.
“We remain rather quiescent and not aggressively taking our claim. We therefore need to wake it from its slumber and actively coordinate our common positions and all issues of mutual interest.”
The minister said, “this is becoming more urgent, as we are now eleven states and growing. We must actively participate in the context of all aspects of the labour and employment sector”.
The minister said in the face of the ever-evolving global landscape, characterised by geopolitical changes and unprecedented challenges, “we must stand united more than ever before”.
“We must recognise that our shared destiny calls for concerted action on the global stage. Therefore, we must commit to intensifying our efforts within various international bodies to shape global labour market policies and agendas”.
The Minister emphasised that the aim of BRICS must always be to focus towards providing decent work for all and achieving social justice by reducing informal work, expanding social protection, eliminating discrimination in employment, raising wages and enhancing job security.
“This may prove extremely difficult without the realisation that access to social protection is a human right, and we are committed to integrating universal access within our national frameworks. Guided by international labour standards, we must seek to close coverage gaps, ensure sustainability and equity, and provide at least a basic level of income security all through nationally defined social protection floors”.
The minister said, “recognising that a significant portion of our workforce operates in the informal economy, we need to commit ourselves to closing the skills gap to enhance the transition to the formal economy.
“Skills development systems and lifelong learning must be at the forefront of our efforts, as we attempt to prepare workers for the future that remains largely unknown to us”.For more information, contact:
082 697 0694/ Teboho.Thejane@labour.gov.za
Issued by: Department of Employment and Labour