Long walk to save jobs

2019-02-26 06:00
Thousands of Cosatu members marched to Parliament to hand over a memorandum of their frustrations job losses.

Thousands of Cosatu members marched to Parliament to hand over a memorandum of their frustrations job losses.

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Thousands of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) members took to the streets and embarked on a journey to the National Assembly, on Tuesday 19 February, to hand over a memorandum of their frustrations over job losses, partly caused by the troubled power utility Eskom and alleged corruption in the government sector.

“Currently, the real unemployment rate is 38%, with close to 10 million people struggling to get jobs and over 17 million on welfare. Both the public and private sector are unrelenting in their decimation of jobs,” read part of the memorandum.

“Cosatu believes that the labour movement must develop ways of contesting retrenchments at an economy-wide level because it is impossible to fight the retrenchment crisis effectively at a workplace level.

“We also believe that economic political and industrial restructuring is necessary to fight retrenchments effectively. Our campaign will be linked with demands for redistribution of wealth, state intervention and a moratorium on all retrenchments.”

The federation called on government to create and protect jobs instead of taking the easy way out.

The union said that since the National Development Plan was adopted in 2012 it set the target to reduce the unemployment rate to 14% by 2020 and to 6% by 2030; however, it has now increased to 27.1%.

“This is happening while South Africa is losing roughly R147bn from the money that is illegally taken out of the country per year. Corruption is also estimated to cost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) at least R27bn annually as well as the loss of 76 000 jobs that would otherwise have been created.”

The federation demanded a shift towards a labour-absorbing growth path and an increasing part of the labour force that is currently in non-formal sectors which must be drawn into productive activities.

“We need interventions that place the creation of decent jobs at the centre of the economic policy instead of relegating them to trickle-down effect. The budget should create conducive conditions for the growth of the small and medium-sized enterprises sector, which targets local markets, absorbs local labour and circulates its income into the local economy.”

Deputy speaker of the National Assembly Lechesa Tsenoli accepted the memorandum and said that the members’ concerns are valid and will be taken into consideration.

“It is important that we as government insist that workers must be engaged in the solutions because not everyone has all the solutions. The wisdom comes from working together and sharing solutions,” he said.

He further said that solutions with which the workers had come up must be applied with those government has identified to resolve the issues.

“Some of these solutions will come to Parliament and be debated appropriately and hope they will solve the problems.”

He encouraged people to give input without the assumption that their input will not work.

“We must insist on continuing consultations from workers and community members,” he concluded.

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