Real Jobs Summit

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With an unemployment rate of 29% measured by the conservative narrow definition of unemployment and 38,5% when discouraged workers are included, South Africa can be said to be facing an employment and socio-economic emergency. More than 10 million workers are without work and consequently without a future. Under the weight of mass unemployment, the social fabric in poor and working-class communities is collapsing. Violence has become so endemic that in parts of the country policing can only be done under the protection of the army. Violence against women, rising xenophobia can all be accounted for in relation to the jobs emergency we are facing in the same breath poor and working-class communities are faced with droughts and floods which can directly be linked to the threat of global warming that is a climate emergency.

Everywhere we turn, we are confronted with business applying for section 189s so as to off-load more workers, cut their costs and preserve their profits. This is becoming so generalised that it is impossible to challenge job losses on a mine-by-mine, plant-by-plant level. Our people are crying out for a response, yet the government has forsaken their responsibility to the people that have put them in power. Ramaphosa’s government bluntly regurgitates the neoliberal mantra that it is not the government’s responsibility to create work.

It is in this context that we are proposing organising a REAL JOBS SUMMIT where representatives of poor and working-class communities, their allies in social movements and trade unions and progressive civil society can develop a programme of action to force the government to take the jobs emergency seriously. The REAL JOBS SUMMIT, would be an opportunity to highlight and advance the real alternatives for creating decent work in our country. 

On the eve of the 2020 budget speech, the summit will take place and will bring together 400 representatives from poor and working-class communities, activists of social movements organising the unemployed, vulnerable workers, trade unionists and a range of resource organisations in a demonstration of unity. In effect, the Real Jobs Summit is a platform for the internal and public debate on what kind of actions are needed to get the government and corporations to meet the demands of the working class and marginalized majority.

The conversations during the summit will be organized into commissions that deal with issues ranging from the demand for a Just Transition, a comprehensive social security and tackling spatial inequality. 

In order to ensure greater awareness of the public and parliamentary and government officials the opening and closing sessions will take place in front of Parliament.


Real Jobs Summit Programme:



24 Feb

Time Activity
10:00 – 11:00 Initial gathering (setting the scene)
11:00 – 11:30 Walk to Parliament
11:30 – 12:30 Cry of the Excluded (speak-out)
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch
14:30 – 15:30 The new South Africa, from crisis to collapse (making connections and getting to the root – understanding the crises of our times)
15:30 – 18:00 Commissions



25 Feb

Time Activity
9:00 – 10:00 Finalise Commissions
10:00 – 12:00 Presentation of Commission outcomes
12:00 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 15:00 Strategies for rebuilding peoples power towards a program of action austerity, job losess and mass unemployment
15:00 – Preparation for Budget Day Rally


We will begin with speak-outs from the movements from around the country. We will then break into 5 commissions: 

            1. An economic policy & strategy for decent work & equity
            2. Land & agrarian transformation for food sovereignty & livelihoods
            3. A just transition for overcoming the climate crisis
            4. Housing, services & spatial inequality
            5. Towards comprehensive social security

These outcomes will be presented in the form of a global cafe / gallery walk – where each commission will have two hosts to relay the outcomes to each of the issues addressed to the other commissions.

Each commission will require:

            • The nature of the problem
            • Our answers / solutions
            • Strategies for change

The outcomes of the commissions will be composited into a declaration by the scribes of each of the commissions. This will be presented to government and further participants and popular movements are required to develop a strategy to take it back to their constituencies.

The REAL JOBS SUMMIT is not seen as a once off event but rather as a means to unite society in a militant but peaceful programme of mass action to deal with the jobs and unemployment emergency destroying our communities and our country.

A programme of action will be adopted by the participants of the REAL JOBS SUMMIT, as a means of kick starting a national programme of action predominantly carried out a local level to organise poor communities affected by the scourges of mass unemployment, poverty and inequality.

An absolutely essential aspect of the REAL JOBS SUMMIT will be the development of alternative strategies at several different levels to address the jobs and unemployment emergency:

  • Immediate strategies and social action plans to address the suffering of the unemployed;
  • Real job creation strategies, especially in the areas of meeting basic needs (housing, early learning, food production;) climate jobs, creating rural livelihoods;
  • education, training and skills programme for redeveloping artisanal workers;
  • alternative economic development policies, especially alternative financing plans that underpin a mass job creation strategy;

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