A woman with a child begs at an intersection. Overpopulation is one of the leading causes of unemployment in SA. NUMSA urged the governing ANC to convene an urgent meeting with all social partners to deal with the country's unemployment crisis. Paballo Thekiso African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG  - The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA) on Tuesday urged the governing African National Congress to convene an urgent meeting with all social partners to deal with the country's unemployment crisis.

The call comes after the national statistics agency reported that the official jobless rate climbed to 29 percent in the second quarter of the year, the highest it has been since the start of a quarterly labour force survey 11 years ago. The expanded unemployment rate which includes those who have given up looking for work also rose to 38.5 percent.

In a statement, NUMSA said the data showed the country was facing a national crisis, accusing the ANC government of championing macro and micro economic policies that "are directly responsible for the mess our country finds itself in today".

The union also accused private sector companies of exploiting the Labour Relations Act to cut jobs and demanded that the government intervene to stop what it called retrenchment patterns driven by the greed of company bosses.

"NUMSA is particularly irritated that whilst it is publically acknowledged and condemned that there is a lot of rot and corruption in the public sector, the same attitude is not adopted in the private sector," it said.

"From where we stand, there are no holy cows when it comes to corruption, both in the public sector and in the private sector."

President Cyril Ramaphosa should convene all trade union federations, unions and civil society into a frank and honest debate with all social partners to discuss job creation and security, the union said.

"At the back of South Africa’s mineral wealth and resources and at the back of the African continent and her resources, we must champion a job-led industrial strategy that must not only defend and create jobs, but also prepare us for the fourth industrial revolution," it added.

- African News Agency (ANA)