JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Wednesday said it has "noted" that South Africa’s 2.5% GDP growth during the second quarter, but warned that jobs were being lost, especially in the mining sector.
Cosatu National Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said: "While these numbers are encouraging, it is still too early to celebrate. We cannot ignore the fact that GDP is but one indicator of economic development and does not factor in other indicators such as unemployment and income inequality."
Earlier this week Statistician general Pali Lehohla said the second quarter data shows year-on-year GDP growth was 1.1%, and for the six months growth has been 1.1%.
This report represents an improvement from the decline that was reported in the last two quarters, which saw a decline of 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2016 and a 0.7% contraction in the first quarter of 2017.
The biggest contributor to the GDP with a contribution of 0.7 of a percentage point to overall GDP growth. Mining grew 3.9% contributing 0.3 of a percentage point to overall growth. Agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors are the major pillars of South Africa's economy.
"Unfortunately, while all of these sectors are growing they are not creating jobs, firstly, because the first two sectors provide raw materials for the manufacturing sectors that is almost nonexistent in this country. Secondly, these sectors are not creating jobs because of automation and mechanisation that has seen workers being replaced by machines," said Pamla.
"It also is noticeable that while the GDP numbers are looking less gloomy than before ... (but) even the best contributor to the data, which is agriculture, did not contribute significantly to the number of people employed because of mechanisation.
"In fact, the mining and agricultural sectors have offered very little positive news for the workers. Mining companies continue to submit section 189 retrenchment notices showing their intention to retrench more workers."
Cosatu said AngloGold Ashanti and Bokoni Platinum Mine in Limpopo were planning to retrench 8,500 and 2,651 workers respectively
"Workers in the agricultural sector continue to work long hours more than 50 hours per week but they are paid only for 40 hours, they do not have leave days, sick maternity and paternity leave which are mandatory in terms of the law," said Pamla.
"When these workers get sick because of the lack of rest they are accused of being lazy. We therefore continue to argue that economic growth cannot be achieved at the cost of the workers."
Cosatu said it reiterates its call for a moratorium on retrenchment and for government to convene a jobs summit in order to develop short and long term measures to "stem the jobs bloodbath".
- AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY