South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday urged the government, business and labour to work tirelessly together to save jobs in the iron and steel industry sector.
Zuma voiced concern about the pressure that the industry is facing currently which is threatening to result in job losses that would be damaging to the economy and to many families.
Zuma was speaking amid reports that iron and steel companies including Evraz Steel and Scaw Metal Group would cut thousands of jobs after the cheap iron and steel prices have hurt the local industry.
On Friday, a government delegation led by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies and the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel met with representatives from business and labour on the challenges faced in the iron and domestic steel industry.
At the meeting, business and labour reportedly pushed the government to impose tariffs on steel imports so as to lessen the effect of a surge in imports, which are being supplied at prices as much as 25 percent below local production costs.
At the meeting, the government advised the parties on the processes underway in International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) to consider various tariff applications and noted that ITAC has finalized consideration on a tariff adjustment application on three products, which will shortly be processed via government for final decision.
Zuma welcomed the dialogue and called for more efforts by all sides to save jobs and strengthen the sector.
The challenges arise mainly from global factors including the current glut of steel resulting in increasing imports of steel products into South Africa and cost-pressures on the industry, Zuma said.
“This is a time for unity in the sector so that this critical industry can be supported and emerge from the current challenges stronger and play its historic role as a critical player and employer in the economy,” Zuma said. Enditem