All our branches are run by local unemployed volunteers in high unemployment areas around Cape Town. Anyone from any area is welcome at all our branches. However, there is, of course, a cost and convenience benefit to living within walking distance of one.
Our work as a movement is divided into three streams: connecting the unemployed to existing jobs, job creation and movement building.
Unemployed volunteers assist the public in making good CVs, training on sending their CV to out directly to a large number of employers and on dealing with hard interview situations.
Our efforts in this area have started with informal work. We are embarking on a pilot to promote informal work which involves two key elements.The first is a cash back scheme through the use of mobile money. The second element involves member-based organisations (MBOs) per category of trade. These MBOs may be existing trader associations as well as new ones.
The goal is for these MBOs to focus on permitting, collective buying, representation to market (reputation), finding customers, sharing learnings among members, increasing space available for trade and advocating for labour rights.
We develop leadership and good workplace practices (e.g. communication and admin) among our volunteer corp through training and by involvement in all streams of our work.
We also have a concept of what a well functioning branch looks like. It shifts based on how it works to attain goals of the movement and on how it motivates volunteers and members.
It is important that the unemployed are the leaders in their own struggle.
Our movement advocates for better job creation and renders visible the experience of the unemployed. We call for better treatment of the unemployed in their search for work by employers and recruiters. This includes the cost of travel, grooming and clothing for interviews and also printing, copying, postage and mobile phone data required to make applications.
We have national-level policy recommendations to make South Africa a working society, however we have yet to coordinate a campaign to promote them.
Being fair to all our members when selecting for opportunities as well as helping our members generate opportunities for themselves is key to what we do.
OfW operates a tiering system at all branches. The higher a member's tier the more likely the member is to be selected for an opportunity OfW as a movement (or a particular branch) has some control over.
The more members search for work for themselves, the higher their tier. Those who help others by volunteering become the highest tier. Volunteers get a week's training on spreadsheets, word processing, calendars, our staff website, running workshops and other elements of running the branch.
As our highest tier, volunteers get first refusal on all opportunities at the branch that they may qualify for. Because of this they disappear quickly into jobs and it compels the movement constantly to keep training new volunteers. This training of new volunteers is done entirely by the experienced existing volunteers.
A person who has been to the introduction but hasn't properly started on their CV.
Member has started on their CV on our website - i.e. has at least one entry under education or employment on their CV.
Member has completed their CV and it has been checked by one of our volunteer branch staff.
Member has done our workshop on i) how to generate many prospective employer leads using our personalised email scripts containing their perfected CVs and ii) extremely quick and effective ways of responding to job ads that have an email or WhatsAppable phone number.
Member is familiar with interview and job readiness best principles.
A member has completed the full volunteer staff training and how has worked at least one shift. Among working volunteers, the more shifts you do, the more likely you are to be selected for opportunities.
DAILY MAVERICK: Unemployment for black South Africans is worse today than in 1994
By Ayal Belling (OfW), 12 November 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: Local government elections 2021 – a chance to put the ‘public’ back into public institutions
By Pamela Silwana & Ayal Belling (OfW), 28 July 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: Unemployment just before lockdown was worst on record and is expected to get much worse
By Ayal Belling (OfW), 24 June 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: Crisis sees Cape Town suburbs reach across the great social divide
By Pamela Silwana (OfW), 31 March 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: ‘If I tell my daughter there is no hope, I am killing her’
By Pamela Silwana (OfW), 17 March 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: Unemployment scourge: ‘The challenge is macro’ and there is hope
By Ed Stoddard (staff writer), 6 March 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: Reply to Ayal Belling: We are revolutionising government’s approach to youth employment
By Saul Musker (the Presidency), 24 February 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: The SONAs of dead and underfunded ideas
By Ayal Belling (OfW), 21 February 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: Jobless youth one of Ramaphosa’s main priorities
By Sandisiwe Shoba (staff writer), 14 February 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: South Africa's State of Unemployment Disaster
By Ayal Belling (OfW), 12 February 2020
LISTEN: Radio interview with John Maytham on Afternoon Drive
By Ayal Belling (OfW) on CapeTalk, 11 February 2020
DAILY MAVERICK: Using Barack Obama’s organising model to tackle SA’s unemployment crisis
By Ayal Belling (OfW), 21 January 2020
The following are the figures across the branches of Organising for Work which launched 27 months ago.
To become a member, a person has only to complete the induction questionnaire on our website (previously it was by attending an in-person introduction).
The 229 figure is the number of members who have told us they have received at least one job offer and/or who have started at least one job since we launched 27 months ago. We estimate that around half of those jobs have arisen directly through activities in or through our branches.
The 111 figure is the number of members who have completed our volunteer training.
Our advocacy towards this goal starts with the employers who hire our members. We firmly believe that greater recruitment friendliness would not only help combat discouragement of the unemployed but also positively affect staff turnover for all employers.
These recommendations arise directly from our members' daily experiences. They create discouragement because of the cost and effort in repetitive speculative applications. For example, Lauren Graham at University of Johannesburg established in 2016 that the average cost of actively searching for an unemployed person is R938 per month.
The unemployed are being compelled repetitively to spend on travel, copying, certifying, data, grooming and clothing for interviews, with, in each case, an exceedingly small chance of getting an opportunity. This leads discouragement and giving up looking altogether as it is unaffordable and so often fruitless.
Recruitment Friendliness Recommendations
Cape Town is one of the world's most unequal cities. It retains its Apartheid spatial layout with the poor and unemployed living in predominantly residential-only, often squalid townships and suburbs, and suffering a hugely disproportionate burden of social problems and crime.
There is an urgent need for physical infrastructure renewal and provision in the these areas of Cape Town - the rollout of which would be job creating and lead to better, safer, healthier livelihoods.
We call on the City to acknowledge that immediate action and investment are required to address extreme levels inequality, crime, poverty and various other social crises facing over half of its population. The City must use all measures at its disposal to prioritise budget, including its R8.5 billion surplus (see 2018/19 reserves on page 53), for utilisation in high unemployment areas of the city to:
Our plan is for 16 million new jobs and a fully working society with a labour absorption rate like Thailand's or Germany's - 75% to 80% of the working age in work. Many of our suggestions are costly and some are hard. As such we have suggestions to fund them from changes to current budget allocation, new revenue and borrowing. Since developmental infrastructure, particularly in townships and poorer areas, returns far more than invested, public debt for such projects should be an easy choice.
The worldwide crisis has hit the poor and unemployed the hardest. More than 2.2 million jobs were lost between April and June 2020 taking the number of employed in the country to the lowest percentage of the working age on record. Please help us to boost the leadership within our unemployed movement so that we can expand in Cape Town and around the country.
Your donation will help us organise communities in high unemployment areas to
Your monetary (or property) donation to OfW is tax deductible. We will issue you with a section 18A receipt. OfW is a tax-exempt public benefit organisation with exemption number 930067474.
Any amount would be highly appreciated. No minimum (and no maximum).
Become a branch supporting volunteer or offer your skills, suggestions and knowhow, connections or social capital.
If you're a coder, our website is constantly being developed in response to member needs. It is built in C#, SQL Server, BLOB storage and hosted on Microsoft Azure.
Our many unemployed volunteers run our branches on a daily basis and give our unemployed movement power, compassion and useful services in many communities.
Alastair McKenzie has donated many hours of his time working on our website. He created our CV checker - one of our most utilised functions. It assists volunteers in giving member CVs a thorough review. He has also undertaken a document storage migration for us.
Uta Reinöhl helps us with substantial and thorough editing of our press pieces. She is also a constant source of help on the tone and content of our messaging and is both a font of ideas and tireless sounding board.
Unemployment is such an enormous, multifactor problem, we can use all the help we can get!
While we make efforts to ensure our website and workshops work on even the most basic smartphone, it is almost always easier to use a computer for job seeking. As such we are always keen to receive more laptops for use in our branches. We will wipe the hard drive completely. Not just of your personal data but also your operating system will be wiped and the Ubuntu operating system will be installed.
We are aspiring to augment much needed donations with income. The work required to achieve this means that we can always use your help.
While we are considering possible sources of income, we will NEVER charge the unemployed for any services. We intend also to continue to provide candidates to employers for free.
We offer employers candidates absolutely for free. However, many employers don't yet come directly to us to supply them with candidates. We would love your help opening relationships with the talent administrators and HR departments of all the larger employers.
Our ability to respond quickly with technology to branch needs has been a core part of how we operate. Our website is built in c# on Microsoft Azure using Razor Pages and SQL Server. If you have skills in these areas then we could regularly use your help..
We have various campaigns running concurrently: better treatment of the unemployed by employers, allocation and utilisation of the City of Cape Town's R14 billion surplus for infrastructure in high unemployment areas and better government job creation policy. From podcasts telling our member's stories of being unemployed to social media awareness, through to speaking about physical infrastructure and job creation on traditional media, there is much scope for media-savvy help.
Regularly check the government's data-free official Coronavirus information website. You can use it even if you have no data on Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and Telkom.
The Daily Maverick has put together an excellent list of the biggest efforts through which you can get help and help others across the country.
It is of life-saving importance and you are legally obliged to follow government Covid regulations. Even if you are young and at less risk of becoming severely ill, you can infect old people and immune-compromised people who could die as a result of the virus.
Many measures have been announced and rolled out including a new temporary unemployment grant and increases to other grants. Support for formal and informal businesses was also announced but appears only to have helped formal businesses thus far. These two links can help small and informal businesses find support
Among other essential help, the following types of support were NOT announced:
The legally mandated lockdown as well as the advice given by health experts are the only ways we have currently to reduce and prevent severe illness and death due to the Coronavirus.
However, scientists are searching for vaccines and cures in a joint and accelerated effort.
There is a lot of "fake new" about the virus. The world health organisation has put together a myth buster to stop unhelpful and untrue statements about Coronavirus spreading.
The development of a vaccine will take time - see the New York Times regularly updated vaccine tracker.
So, we must all follow the precautions announced by the government to reduce the virus's transmission and save the lives of the most vulnerable. Note that the majority of people experience only light symptoms and the vast majority of people do recover.
Remember though, that because a very small minority of people may need hospital care, the spread of the virus can overwhelm our healthcare system and cause more people to die.
It is estimated that a further 6 to 12 months will be needed before there is a vaccine for Coronavirus. A vaccine is a treatment (e.g. injection, nasal spray, tablet) that can prevent severe symptoms of a disease.