Johannesburg - The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is outraged at the latest figures in Statistics South Africa's quarterly employment survey, which reveal a loss of 34 000 jobs in the second quarter of 2017, the union federation said on Saturday.

"The federation is not, however, surprised, as we have been predicting that further job losses were inevitable, given the current economic catastrophe, the ratings agency downgrades, the stagnation of economic growth, the ongoing looting of the economy, and the bankrupting of state-owned enterprises," Saftu said in a statement.

There was a small increase in jobs in trade and, surprisingly, mining, despite the thousands of retrenchment notices issued by mining employers in recent months, which meant there was sure to be a drop in mining employment when the figures for the third quarter were released.

Most alarming in the second-quarter statistics was that the biggest job losses were 13,000 in the manufacturing industry and 11,000 in construction, both key sectors which needed to thrive if the economy was to be rebuilt. Their decline confirmed Saftu's fears that the country was being "rapidly deindustrialised and reverting back to the colonial day" when the country’s resources were exported cheaply to be used in manufacturing industries elsewhere, and imported back to South Africa as manufactured products, Saftu said. 

"This is leading to a long-term, if not permanent, collapse in the economy. This in turn will increase the levels of poverty and inequality, which is already the highest in the world. It will also lead to lower tax revenues, leading to more austerity cuts in the already low levels of government spending on education, health, and other vital services to communities.

"Inevitably, therefore we shall see more community protests which will become increasingly angry and frequently violent. These protests will be joined by employed workers whose living standards are also under attack, which was confirmed by the same Stats SA survey which revealed that total earnings paid to employees declined by R2 billion to R586 billion in the 2nd quarter," Saftu said.

This had come about because of the drop in the number of jobs and the increasing number of remaining jobs being outsourced or casualised, the continued use of labour brokers, and the undermining of centralised collective bargaining, all of which made it harder for workers to organise to defend, let along increase, their wages. 

All of this led to more and more low-paid and insecure jobs and a rise in the size of the informal sector of marginalised and vulnerable workers struggling to survive on whatever odd amounts they could scrape together as car-guards, paper and plastic recycling, "illegal" mining, or even begging on street corners, Saftu said.
African News Agency