Working-class unions march against austerity, job losses and mass unemployment

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Feb 27, 2020

Share this article:

Cape Town - Hundreds of unemployed young people under the banner of the working-class unions marched to Parliament against austerity, job losses, and mass unemployment ahead of the budget speech on Wednesday.

The working-class unions rejected what they said was “austerity budgeting” and demanded government spending and taxation that drives redistribution and delivers jobs, services, and dignity.

The march targeted the local government and its employment practices with a focus on the City of Cape Town’s “use of outsourced and insecure workers”, especially in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

South African Municipal Workers’ Union’s Back to Work Campaign leader Marilyn Carelse said the City of Cape Town was pushing out more permanent employees and employing casuals.

“The City is busy pushing out their permanent staff and employing casuals, saving more money while exploiting us. We are fighting for better jobs for the next generation or else we will be casual workers for the rest of our lives. We demand a living wage of R12500 a month and not the crushed peanuts they call a salary,” she said.

The City's spokesperson, Luthando Tyhalibongo, said: “The City re-affirms its repeated communication to SAMWU on this matter that it is guided by the Ministerial Determination for EPWP workers, which by its nature is short term job opportunities to communities and not meant to be permanent employment.

“EPWP workers, as all other applicants for posts, do enjoy equal opportunity to apply for permanent positions at the City of Cape Town.

“The City is aware of the high unemployment rate in South Africa and is doing its part to alleviate this social concern but can only do so within the confines of its legal framework,” Tyhalibongo said.

“It should be noted that the City is one of the biggest employers in the Municipal Jurisdictional Area of Cape Town.”

Working-class unions rejected what they said was “austerity budgeting” and demanded government spending and taxation that drives redistribution and delivers jobs. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

Working-class unions rejected what they said was “austerity budgeting” and demanded government spending and taxation that drives redistribution and delivers jobs. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

Khokhoma Motsi from Cry of the Xcluded said their most urgent and pressing demand was an end to austerity.

He said cutting the budget in a time of economic stagnation would destroy the very tools and resources they needed to jump-start the economy. Alongside this, he said they also demanded an end to casualisation and temporary work, adding that EPWP workers should be insourced and given benefits afforded to permanent workers.

The group has been holding what they said was a real jobs summit to “discuss multiple crises facing the country” and came up with solutions.

“We are convinced that the economic and social crises being experienced place our society at the precipice of no return.

“At our summit, we have discussed these crises at length, identified the problems, and have come up with solutions.

“Contrary to the view of the few, we have proved that we possess urgency, will and creativity to pave the way forward and address the crises our country is facing,” Motsi said.

Nkululeko Ndlovu, leader of the Assembly of the Unemployed graduates movement, said young people wanted to participate in the economy through policy and decision-making and not through exploitation.

“We want the budget that will reflect us as the unemployed people. In the past three years, we have never been included in the budget. There is a crisis of unemployment”.

Ndlovu said the current education system did not respond to the

conditions faced by thousands of unemployed.

Working-class unions rejected what they said was “austerity budgeting” and demanded government spending and taxation that drives redistribution and delivers jobs. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

@Mtuzeli

Share this article: