Trade union federation Cosatu is taking to the streets today to protest against retrenchments. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – Trade union federation Cosatu is taking to the streets today to protest against retrenchments. 

It said that it would lead the national shutdown against ongoing layoffs, as they had a devastating affect on many families.

Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said Cosatu wanted a moratorium on retrenchments, as the country faced high levels of unemployment. 

“The message is very clear: we demand a moratorium on retrenchments, and we also want a people-centred Budget that will prioritise the people and not corporations,” said Pamla.

“It is unacceptable that five years since corporate tax was first reduced in 2012 from 34 percent to 28 percent, employers continue to retrench workers without any intervention from our government.”

The national shutdown comes a month after the labour sector warned of a jobs bloodbath this year, following the implementation of the national minimum wage on January 1.

Pamla said the federation wanted a redistributive tax regime with categories for the super-rich. He said retrenchments were happening as a result of a manufactured crisis of profits.

“There is, therefore, an attempt to restore profitability through retrenchments, cuts in real wages and widespread casual labour, particularly among the women and young workers,” he said.

“We are seeing a super-exploitation of foreign workers in many sectors of our economy and appropriation of labour productivity gains by capital.” 

Cosatu said South Africans were being retrenched in favour of foreigners in sectors such as security, services, farming, domestic and freight industries.

Meanwhile, in 2018 the Department of Labour said the country experienced its highest increase in labour strikes in 2017, with the figure increasing by 8 percent from 122 in 2016 to 132 in 2017, while the number of working days lost rose 1.5 percent to 960 889 from 946 323 in 2016.

The department’s Industrial Action report stated that 125 000 employees were involved in strikes across all industries, and this cost the economy R251 million in lost earnings in 2017, compared with R161m in 2015.