It will take 520 years for blacks to be paid what whites are paid, says Numsa

2014-03-10 17:50

White workers are paid four times more than their black counterparts, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said.

“It will take 520 years for Africans to earn the same salary as the whites,” Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said.

“Unemployment is increasing, poverty is deepening and inequalities widening,” he told the union’s national bargaining conference in Pretoria.

Cloete said that for every unemployed white worker, there are 80 unemployed African workers.

According to the union, unemployment among Africans grew from 40% in 2008 to 46% in 2012.

Cloete urged delegates to “pursue proper, negotiated and beneficial agreements for workers.”

He said Numsa has a mammoth task of recruiting high numbers of workers who do not belong to any union: “There are 71% of workers who are not union members. Fifty-four percent of workers do not get an increase at their work.”

He said the ANC-led government was proud to dish out grants, but the unemployed want proper, decent jobs.

Opening the conference, union president Andrew Chirwa said the lives of the poor have not changed.

“There is no good story to tell. It is a fairy tale. The working class and poor people have a bad story to tell,” he said.

“We cannot lie for ever ... In 1994 we said SA will be a better place to live, unemployment will be halved in ten years. Unemployment was supposed to be 12% by now.

“What have we achieved in this regard? We are not moving forward. Instead we are worse than ten years ago.”

He said the struggle for freedom got rid of apartheid, but capitalism is still entrenched.

“A white man was replaced by a black man,” he said.

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