JOHANNESBURG- South Africa is currently shedding jobs at an alarming and accelerating rate where thousands of jobs are lost across the country on a daily basis, according to one of SA’s largest trade union federations.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions, through its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, have slammed the widespread retrenchments that have taken place across a wide range of sectors and have lambasted COSATU’s complicity in paving the way for recent developments.
Just this week, 350 workers are reported to have been retrenched at Afro Worldview TV (formerly ANN7) following its removal from the DStv network.
In addition, Uber has announced that 9000 drivers’ jobs are at risk if proposed amendments to the National Land Transport Act are implemented. Furthermore, the government has threatened to retrench 30000 public servants in an effort to save costs.
Explaining the scope of the job losses, Vavi highlighted that a further 130 000 jobs in the poultry industry are in jeopardy if no urgent action is taken against cheap imports.
“There are also potentially 20 000 jobs at risk as a result of the proposed sugar tax and the low world price of sugar and 7 000 jobs that could go in the tobacco and related businesses and on farms if the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill goes through,” said Vavi.
Vavi continued: “By far the biggest haemorrhaging of jobs has been in the mines. Lonmin plans to retrench 12600 workers by 2020, as it closes old and unprofitable mines. Impala Platinum is planning to reduce its workforce by 13400 in the next two years because of losses at its Rustenburg mines. Gold Fields wants to shed 1 560 jobs at its South Deep mine while AngloGold Ashanti seeks to reduce the R3.3-billion annual overhead cost by two-thirds by rightsizing the workforce which could mean potentially 2000 fewer jobs.”
According to Vavi, this added up to a total of more than 30000 mining jobs already gone or in the pipeline and it comes on top of 68000 jobs already lost over the last 13 years.
“This is a terrible blow to the retrenched workers and their dependents, the devastation of mining communities and a threat to South Africa’s economic future,” said Vavi
He suggested that the revealed statistics would be a disaster and are happening at a time when the unemployment rate is already at 37.2%. He accused the government of not doing enough to reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality, claiming that governments “neo-liberal policies” are to blame for the crisis which is worsening by the day.
“The mine owners, in particular, are motivated purely by a concern for short-term profits, which is much more important to them than workers’ justified demands for higher pay, communities’ calls for money for houses, schools and hospitals, the country’s insistence on reduced pollution of the environment and, most importantly, the long-term future of the South African economy,” said Vavi.
Vavi continued: “SAFTU will reject any deal that continues to punish the workers for their bosses’ crimes. The capitalist elite has shown time and again that they will never pursue policies to create jobs, abolish poverty and end inequality. They will never agree to any changes which reduce their power and wealth. They will never accept any curbs on their freedom to move their wealth around the world into tax havens, dodge tax payments and invest their capital only where it yields the quickest and biggest profits. They will continue to exploit workers and consumers,” he said.