Unions want all lockdown retrenchments blocked in South Africa

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) has called for a moratorium on all retrenchments and potential ‘future processes’, in an effort to preserve jobs during the country’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Fedusa is the second largest national trade union centre in South Africa and has a membership of 556,000 workers.

“The Federation believes that all possible avenues must be considered instead of continuously using workers as scapegoats,” it said.

“Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s Budget speech in February 2021 is not expected to bring about any joy, considering the October 2020 MTBPS outlook – budget deficit is 15.7% of GDP and gross debt is 81.8% of GDP.”

Fedusa said that the South African Reserve Bank should also continue to provide support to workers in 2021.

“Although the SARB was very instrumental in the process, it needs to continue on this trajectory, as the loan guarantee schemes and tax relief measures have yet to deliver the results that were promised, considering that only a meagre R15 billion of the R200 billion capacity relief to SMME’s were provided.”

Statistics South Africa recorded 2.2 million job losses in the second quarter of 2020, leaving just 14.4 million employed people in both the formal and informal sectors

According to the latest Quarterly employment statistics (QES) survey released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), formal sector jobs decreased by 616,000 in the third quarter, year on year.

Pledge to create jobs

Announced as part of the country’s coronavirus economic recovery plan in October, president Cyril Ramaphosa said that government will create a ‘presidential employment stimulus’  designed to respond to the rise in unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The aim of this stimulus is to create or support 800,000 jobs in South Africa within the current financial year.

Ramaphosa said that this is being achieved through an ‘unprecedented’ expansion of public and social employment, as well as through the protection of existing jobs in vulnerable sectors and support for livelihood and enterprise opportunities.

“Eleven national departments and all nine provinces are responsible for the implementation of programmes supported through the employment stimulus,” Ramaphosa said in an update in December.

“As the progress report shows, over 400,000 opportunities have already been supported, with several programmes in the recruitment or beneficiary identification phase.”

Ramaphosa said that the remaining programmes are all on track to meet their targets.

Read: The most in-demand job skills in South Africa right now

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Unions want all lockdown retrenchments blocked in South Africa