Employment and Labour hosts BRICS Employment Working Group meetings, 21 to 24 Feb

BRICS EWG convene in SA to discuss labour market policy issues

The Department of Employment and Labour is gearing itself to host the first in a series of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries’ Employment Working Group (EWG) meetings planned in 2023.

Simultaneously, the BRICS Research Network Forum will also meet as well. The Department of Employment and Labour will coordinate the labour and employment stream during the SA presidency in 2023.

This stream entails arranging the BRICS Employment Working Group meetings, the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutes meeting and the 9th BRICS Labour and Employment Minister’s Meeting (LEMM) in 2023.

Department of Employment and Labour’s Acting Deputy Director-General of Labour Policy & Industrial Relations (LP&IR) branch, Sipho Ndebele said the at the apex of discussions will be social security issues. Ndebele said the first meeting will be held from 21-24 February 2023 and this will be followed by other meetings in May, June and September.

“This series of EWG and Research Network Forum meetings will culminate with the EWG Labour & Employment Minister’s Meeting in September 2023. We envisage the two forums meetings to discuss priority issues in the technical meetings in preparations for the Labour and Employment Ministerial meeting,” he said.

Ndebele said SA Presidency of BRICS provide it with an opportunity to promote regional and global issues on the back of skyrocketing unemployment and health fallout created by the pandemic.

The Republic of South Africa on 1st January 2023 formally assumed the Presidency of BRICS for a period of one year after succeeding Peoples Republic of China. It will be the third time South Africa takes the reigns of Presidency of BRICS. The country assumes its chairship amidst the global issues such as Covid-19, sharp rise – in food prices, fertilisers, energy, interest rates, currency depreciation, stagflation and unemployment.

South Africa’s theme for its Presidency is: “Ensuring decent work, dignity and respect for all!”

The thematic issues of discussion will focus on:

Building sustainable enterprises, including new forms of employment and increasing productivity

Promoting labour rights and decreasing decent work deficits in the context of the recovery

Universal social protection and ensuring minimum basic income

Promoting decent work by closing skills gaps in the informal economy

The LEMM in 2022 adopted a Ministerial Declaration with firm commitments to promoting Green Jobs for Sustainable Development; skills development and technological innovation to promote economic growth and social progress; promotion of a human-centred approach in line with 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration for the future of work.

In a drive to ensure the support of global initiatives for a human-centred recovery from the Covid-19 crisis South Africa has also invited as part of the Africa Outreach programmes countries such as Botswana, eSwatini, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The African Union is also invited. The ILO and the International Social Security Association (ISSA) will provide technical support during the meetings.

BRICS is an economic bloc that includes: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Formed on 16 June 2009, South Africa joined BRICS in December 2010.

Source: Government of South Africa