Unemployed graduates should be re-trained and used in the public service to reduce vacancies in the government, trade union Numsa said on Wednesday.

This was one of the outcomes of its national policy workshop, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA said in a statement.

Numsa said it agreed with the Young Communists' League that, with a vacancy rate in the public service of around 35 percent, employing jobless graduates would reduce unemployment.

Such a project would cost around R4 billion, according to Numsa.

The government had spent billions of rands since 1994 on skills training and development, but the unemployment rate, especially youth unemployment, had not significantly changed.

This was as the global economic crisis had worsened the situation and further entrenched inequalities suffered by black people in South Africa.

Numsa said the youth wage subsidy would lead to the system being abused by employers. Older workers would be dismissed in favour of younger ones and subsidised employers would have a competitive advantage.

This would lead to general employment being negatively affected.

New forms of racism were being exhibited through the lowering of black wages and a layered labour system where wages were determined by employers, according to the trade union.

The Democratic Alliance's march to Cosatu's head office, rising online racism and “The Spear” painting showed a new arrogance among white South Africans as their economic dominance had been perpetuated, Numsa said.

It had always defended the right to freedom of expression and artistic creativity, but Numsa believed Brett Murray's “The Spear” was repulsive, racist and unwelcome in post-1994 South Africa.

A mass training programme focusing on artisans, to be employed through the national government's R300 billion infrastructure programme, should also be initiated, the trade union said.

Numsa's national congress, to be held in Durban between June 3 and June 8, would give attention to youth unemployment and general unemployment, and would offer recommendations to tackle these problems.

Numsa would continue to oppose e-tolling as it unfairly burdened the working and middle classes.

Recent proposals to adjust South Africa's labour laws would worsen the disagreement between the ANC and its alliance partners, Numsa said.

These included the continued presence of labour brokers in the employment market and the possibility of unions being unable to strike.

It called for unity among the working class.

Numsa would hold its 25th anniversary national rally on Sunday at the Curries Fountain Stadium in Durban, with President Jacob Zuma expected to address the rally. - Sapa