Numsa President Cedric Gina. Photo: DOCTOR NGCOBO

The problem of unemployed young people is too big to be solved through a R5 billion wage subsidy, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Saturday.

“This huge problem requires a bigger response,” he said.

Government solutions must involve a massive skills revolution for young people. This included the reopening of nursing colleges, the filling of all further education and training facilities and the adoption of a manufacturing-based industrial strategy, Numsa president Cedric Gina said in a speech.

He was speaking at the 25th anniversary of Numsa in Athlone, in the Western Cape.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) was opposed to the current proposed youth wage subsidy. This was because “unpatriotic” South African employers would use the subsidy to “line their pockets”, he said.

There was also a fear employers would replace older employees with younger ones to avoid higher salaries.

“Today, we talk of lack of critical skills as a country because South African unpatriotic employers have not trained young people in numbers in order to ensure that when big projects like Kusile and Medupi take place, we do not import skills from other countries,” said Gina

He called on Numsa members to approach the upcoming Cosatu congress with the purpose of ensuring that the federation emerged united.

“We must be self critical as we approach this congress and pose a frank question about whether (or not) we have implemented the 2015 plan that we adopted in 2003.”

Numsa was a forum that debated issues across its structures, he said.

“You are a union that still believes and subscribes to democratic centralism,” he told the audience.

“The country is grappling with the role of the Reserve Bank today because of your campaigns. You are striking union. The country is grappling with the issue of labour brokers today because of your campaigns where you achieved superior agreements about phasing out labour in your sectors,” said Gina. - Sapa