SAFTU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi speaking during a Workers’ Day rally last year.     BHEKI RADEBE African News Agency (ANA) File
SAFTU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi speaking during a Workers’ Day rally last year. BHEKI RADEBE African News Agency (ANA) File

Job losses a growing concern for trade union federation

By BALDWIN NDABA Time of article published Dec 24, 2019

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Increasing job losses in the mining and banking sectors continue to haunt the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) after almost 15 000 workers were retrenched this year.

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi painted this gloomy picture about the state of the South African economy in his festive message on Monday.

Vavi bemoaned the growing retrenchments in key sectors of the economy, saying: “In particular, our hearts go out to workers who have lost their jobs. We are acutely aware that they will now join the long queue of 10.3 million South African who are unemployed and the 63% living in degrading, dehumanising poverty.

“We send a special message to workers who have been victims of senseless violence and unacceptably high levels of road accidents. We wish those who are in hospitals or recovering at home a speedy recovery,” Vavi said.

He added that South Africa remained the world’s most unequal society, with close to the highest levels of unemployment, and about 63% of the population living in dire poverty.

“It is on the brink of being downgraded by all the credit rating agencies to negative, which could lead to a collapse of investment and total economic collapse.

“According to the World Inequality Database, the top 1% of South African earners take home almost 20% of all income in the country, while the top 10% take home 65%. The remaining 90% of South African earners get only 35% of total income.”

He added: “And it is getting worse: the real wages of the bottom 10% of earners have plummeted, shrinking by a quarter between 2011 and 2015. The country’s median incomes also shrank by 15%.

“By contrast, the earnings of the top 2% grew by 15% over that period, while those in the top 1% saw their earnings balloon by 48%.”

Vavi highlighted that unemployment had now reached 38.8%, saying the most worrying aspect was that 58% of people between 15 and 24 were out of work, the highest in the world.

He said more than 4000 jobs were lost in the mining sector; more than 2000 jobs in the banking sectors; 5000 jobs in the sugar industry alone, and other sectors of the economy.

“Many more jobs are under threat, including at SAA, MultiChoice, Tiso Blackstar, Pick n Pay, Shoprite, ArcelorMittal, and, most worrying of all, at Eskom, as a result of unbundling - a precursor to its privatisation.

“Even those workers who are hanging on to their jobs are suffering from lower wages and less job security as more employers use casualisation, outsourcing, home work, labour brokers, zero-hour contracts and the Expanded Public Works Programme which pays young workers a below poverty wage of R11 an hour,” Vavi said.

Saftu also complained about the seeming failure of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks to act against those involved in state capture.

Vavi said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise to tackle corruption had not yielded significant results.

“Despite the mountain of evidence piling up at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, only a handful of relatively minor figures have so far been brought to court, while the Gupta brothers live the good life in Dubai.

“All these problems are magnified by the paralysis and factionalism within the ANC leadership. Ramaphosa has been powerless to defeat the pro-Zuma faction, which is becoming more brazen in its attempt to escape the consequences of its crimes.

“The massive impact of all the theft from the people is being exposed daily in the catastrophic bankruptcy and collapse of SOEs,” Vavi said.

Political Bureau

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