Latest unemployment figures disappointing – COSATU

Federation says silence of govt is the most worrying aspect of this ticking time bomb

COSATU notes with great disappointment the latest unemployment figures released by Stats SA

8 August 2017 

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted with great disappointment the latest unemployment figures released by Stats SA released yesterday.

Key amongst these is that unemployment remains at an all time high of more than 36%.

Furthermore, we have lost a further 144 000 formal sector jobs, 40 000 agricultural jobs and 8 000 house hold jobs.

Discouraged work seekers have increased by 83 000.

This is against the background of the recently announced plan to retrench another 20 000 mine workers over the past two weeks.

At the same time, government departments, municipalities and parastatals have been freezing vacancies across the board.

Pick 'n Pay announced its plan last week to retrench 3 000 workers.

In short, our perennial crisis continues to deepen month after month, year after year. Jobs are being cut across most sectors of the economy.

Our previous jobless economic growth, has given way to simply a jobless economic recession.

The most worrying aspect of this ticking time bomb of more than one out of three workers being unemployed, is the deafening silence of government.

Government has not said a word in response to the latest stats. It has not offered a plan to halt this jobs blood bath.

Whilst some government ministers and departments are doing good work in trying to create jobs and reindustrialise our battered economy, shockingly the majority of our government leaders and departments do not have a plan to create jobs nor do they seem to care.

Unemployment is the greatest threat to this nation. Yet we have not heard what the President plans to do to address it.

Government is failing workers. It is clear they have no plan. It is time they stopped sleeping on the job. Workers love the ANC. But their patience is not unlimited.

This is not a "Good Story".

If government leaders are tired they must tell us and step aside for comrades who care about workers and will work to reindustrialise the economy, boost manufacturing and exports, improve infrastructure, drive key growth sectors, fight corruption, skill workers, fix our schools and fight crime.

Now more than ever, government must wake up.

The President must convene the long awaited and promised Jobs Summit.

We cannot afford to wait a day longer.

The private sector must come to the party as patriots.

We cannot have business leaders running around lecturing government about corruption etc. whilst they themselves are throwing workers to the wolves of unemployment as we have seen with Anglo Gold, Ashanti, Pick 'n Pay etc. in recent weeks.

These companies have made their profits on the backs of exploiting workers. Big Companies are currently keeping 1.4 trillion in their banks accounts.

This is an indication that big companies are making huge profits and are unwilling to reinvest these profits in the SA economy. Government needs to intervene to force the private sector to spent this money in the economy for the benefit of the unemployed and the poor.

Without government regulation the private companies will not willingly invest in productive sectors and will continue to use their profit to invest in shares and bonds.

The reason why we have problems is because of lack of local demand and continued focus on exports and local companies investing SA-made profits outside South Africa. 9.3 million

Unemployed people do not have enough purchasing power to take the economy out of the recession. Unless the government forces the private sector to re-invest profits into SA economy the working class and the poor will continue to be at the mercy of private capital.

Our economic policies must encourage creation of decent jobs, discourage export of foreign currency, and impose capital controls such levies on export of capital to discourage export of capital outside SA, local production and substitution of imports by locally produced goods and encourage companies to export value added products.

Lastly, there must be a change in economic philosophy that companies can retrench in order to make profits.

The reason why on the one hand, unemployment has averaged more than 25% between 2000 and 2017 and more profits for private companies is the justification that companies can make more money by retrenching workers and this is viewed okay. This view is killing our economy. It for this reason that we must not get tired in calling for nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy in key sectors such as mining, banks, insurance health, construction and so on.

A company owned by the state would not have incentives to lay off workers as it would not exist solely to make profits.

Otherwise we would not able to address the unemployment income inequality and poverty without increased and direct state participation and regulation of the private sector.

Now they reward these workers with retrenchments.

Issued by Matthew Parks, Parliamentary Coordinator, COSATU, 8 August 2017