PRETORIA (ILO) On 5 July 2022, the Governments of South Africa and Switzerland, in a joint event with the International Labour Organization (ILO), officially launched the new ILO Productivity Ecosystems for Decent Work programme. The new programme identifies root causes of low productivity and decent work deficits and develops capacity and ownership of local and national actors to address them.
The project launch took place in the context of the post-Covid 19 recovery. During the pandemic, labour productivity in South Africa has fallen to 2010 levels and remains stagnant. Overall economic output, which barely kept pace with population growth, shrank by over 7.5%. Women were particularly impacted - two-thirds of the estimated 3 million workers who lost their jobs following the economic shutdown in 2020 were women. One third of South Africa’s labour force was employed informally in 2020.
“Productivity lies at the heart of efforts to transform national economies, raise the living standards of the people, and help eradicate extreme poverty” explained the South African Minister of Employment and Labour, Mr Thembelani Thulas Nxesi at the event.
Besides South Africa, the programme will be also implemented in Viet Nam and Ghana, with funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
During the event, the South African Labour Minister and the Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin also signed a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes a high-level tripartite dialogue on labour and employment issues between the two countries. “Both – the new ILO Programme and the bilateral MOU – are embedded in Switzerland’s economic cooperation activities in South Africa and are a very concrete sign of our common goal: facilitating sustainable growth,” said Parmelin.
The event showed the increasing importance of Switzerland’s cooperation with the South African Department of Employment and Labour. Switzerland is the 5th largest bilateral donor country in South Africa and implements more than 30 projects to contribute to inclusive economic development. The event was an important opportunity for members of the Swiss economic delegation to meet and exchange views with the South African government and social partners. The programme launch was followed by an interactive and lively discussion among the 80 representatives from key stakeholders.