We’re not that poor – economist

2011-07-04 11:38

“Everyone working is on the richer side of the equation,” said Schussler. He said the country’s labour laws set a minimum wage which prevented a situation of workers living on less than R10 a day.

But he admitted that South Africa remained “income poor”.

Cosatu based its claim on last year’s United Nations development programme report which said 44% (approximately six million out of 13 million) of the workers in the country lived on less than R10 a day.

“In short, 44% of workers in South Africa are working for a loaf of bread on a daily basis,” said ­general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi at Cosatu’s central committee meeting in Midrand this week.

The trade federation also cited Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2010 budget speech according to which half (almost 25 million) of the population of the country lived on 8% of the national income (R4 340 per month or R155 per day).

To illustrate the plight of the working class, Cosatu contrasted the cost of maintaining a dog in a “moderately affluent suburb” to the workers’ daily upkeep.

“A suburban dog is worth R43.36 on a daily basis, which is almost twice the average daily ­upkeep of a member of the working class and more than four times the average upkeep of almost 30 million South Africans,” said Vavi.

Cosatu opted for dogs in well-off areas because “dogs in working class neighbourhoods tend to eat from dustbins”.
Taking 775g of Husky tender lamb at R20, an 8kg pack of Bobtail at R94 and milk at R20, ­Cosatu’s calculations put the daily upkeep of a suburban dog at R43.36. This assumed that the milk and lamb lasted a day, while the Bobtail lasts 28 days.

Dog owners who spoke to City Press on condition of anonymity defended spending on their dogs.
“I spend between R700 and R800 (R28.57 per day) on my bull terrier every month,” said a dog owner from Roodepoort.

A woman from Crossroads in Cape Town said she spent at least R250 a month on her dog (R8.92 per day). “You treat a dog like a child. You even buy a snack for them. My dog doesn’t eat from dustbins,” she said.

Another dog owner from a rural village of Gcilima in KwaZulu­Natal said he treated his dog like royalty. “I spend at least R400 every month (R14.28 per day) on my dog,” he said.

A dog owner from Gauteng ­recently spent R5 000 on a knee operation for her pet. “My two dogs are my kids,” she said.

» Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven could not shed further light on Cosatu’s
calculations.

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