The role of downstream steel manufacturing co-operatives in job creation and poverty alleviation in Boipatong
This study investigates the role of downstream iron, steel and metal manufacturing co-operatives in job creation and poverty alleviation in Boipatong. Just over half of the population in Emfuleni lives in poverty. Approximately 96 percent of the poor in this area live in the townships (Slabbed, 2001). The greatest need for poverty alleviation is therefore in the townships. Unemployment is considered to be one of the major causes of poverty. Finding solutions to the problem of unemployment can therefore be of great help in reducing poverty. This study provides a detailed discussion on the theories of unemployment and poverty. This study also defines and measures unemployment and poverty, and provides a profile of the poor in Boipatong. The poverty line (household subsistence level), the headcount index, and the poverty gap are used as tools to measure poverty. This profile is compared with the findings of a similar survey in Bophelong, with the aim of the comparison being to determine the socio-economic standing of Boipatong in relation to other townships in Emfuleni. The metal and metal products industry plays a key role in Emfuleni, particularly because it is the largest employer in the region. Employment in this industry has, however, shown a declining trend over the years. The loss of job opportunities in this sector (as well as in other sectors) creates a need to probe into the possibilities of other non-conventional alternatives to job creation. This study shows the potential held by the establishment of iron, steel and metal manufacturing co-operatives as a way of creating jobs and alleviating poverty. A survey conducted amongst metal-workers in Soweto (Nobanda, 1998) showed that the majority of metal-workers are small in size. These metalworkers faced several internal and external constraints that hampered their progress. Another survey was conducted amongst the informal iron and metal-workers in Boipatong (Survey Data, 2004). This survey was compared with a similar survey conducted by Rwigema and Karungu (1999) amongst SMMEs in Soweto and Orange Farm. The findings of the latter two surveys were found to be similar in many respects to the findings of the Soweto survey. Continued lack of success by other forms of small businesses - as indicated by the surveys - provides motivation for trying alternative forms of business ownership such as co operatives, as a way of creating jobs and alleviating poverty. Finally, this study concludes that the establishment of iron, steel and metal manufacturing co-operatives can create job opportunities and alleviate poverty.