The Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Ms Noxol Kiviet, joined President Cyril Ramaphosa and Trade, Industry, and Competition Minister, Mr Ebrahim Patel, during the launch of the inaugural Worker Share Ownership conference, held in Sandton, Gauteng province today.

Minister Kiviet participated in a panel discussion on the role of governance and training in ensuring the success of employee share ownership programmes (ESOPs).

Speaking after the Keynote address by President Ramaphosa, Miniter Kiviet lauded her cabinet colleague, Minister Patel, for leading the process of distilling innovative ideas such as the Worker Share Ownership concept to stimulate economic growth, which was the subject of the conference.

“We all know and understand what the principles of good governance entail, but I think the most important principle is inclusivity in how initiatives such as the Worker Share Ownership Programme would fully contribute to economic growth,” said Minister Kiviet, echoing the speeches presented by President Ramaphosa and Minister Patel.

The Worker Shar Ownership concept is old and involves a process whereby employees can acquire company shares. The resultant benefits include an improvement in the productivity and livelihoods of employees.

According to the figure provided by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), there are 125 worker-share ownership trusts countrywide. These involve the participation of just over 500,000 employees and indirectly benefit thousands of their dependents. Operational across the major industries ranging from mining to Beverage, the combined equity or shareholding of existing worker-share ownership trusts is R70,3 billion.

The conference’s purpose, which drew the participation of individual employees, labour, private sector and government representatives, sought to reflect on the successes and challenges existing employee share ownership initiatives face, focussing on their long-term sustainability.

“Those workers representing their colleagues in boards and trusts must find a way to report back. Without that report back, trust gets lost, and there will be no progress,” advised Minister Kiviet.

During the deliberation on a range of issues relating to the employee share ownership programme, touching on ways of expanding the current number of initiatives and exploring modalities for the funding of employee share ownership and the distribution of dividends, Minister Kiviet said: “For me, the emphasis should be on a consultative and engaging approach to how Employee Share Ownership programmes operate sustainably.”