R2,4bn jobs fund

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has announced bold plans to deal with the economic crisis that has led to thousands of workers losing their jobs.

Zuma said R2,4billion had been made available to provide training to workers who have been retrenched.

Briefing the media in Pretoria yesterday, the president said he was hopeful that a task team comprising labour and business would be up to the task.

Zuma said a training lay-off scheme would be set up for retrenched workers and companies affected by the recession.

"I am confident that there will be no delays in implementing this scheme and have no reason to doubt the commitment of the task team," Zuma said.

The response team that will implement the process is made up of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, Brian Molefe for business, Lulama Nare for the community sector and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.

Zuma said the scheme would be launched next month and would be applicable to workers in "defined circumstances" who were earning up to R180000 a year.

Zuma said the training lay-off scheme would entail a temporary suspension of work for a worker or group of workers that will be used for training purposes.

"This fund will be used to pay a training allowance to workers, pegged at 50 percent of the basic wage to a maximum of R6230 a month."

Vavi said it would be not be a free-for-all scheme since requirements would be put in place to avoid companies from nationalising their debts through the scheme.

He said the scheme was about the current crisis that had emerged.

"We will be mindful not to allow people to nationalise their debts. There ought to be a process to check if people are not abusing this process ." - Additional reporting by I-Net Bridge