Editorial: Jobs bloodbath adds to SA’s economic woes

It’s been a bloodbath on the employment front this week as at least three major operations announced job cuts running into thousands.

Telkom informed trade unions and staff that it could cut up to 3 000 of its more than 15 000 employees as it struggles with declining performance in fixed voice and data services.

Massmart said it had started consultations with unions about the closure of up to 34 of its DionWired and Masscash stores, which could affect 1 400 employees.

Mining group Sibanye-Stillwater’s completion of its Marikana restructuring saw 4 500 people ultimately lose their jobs or contracts (early retirement and voluntary severance packages included).

That’s nearly 9 000 jobs in a week. And these are only the ones that we know of – the figure doesn’t include the small and medium-sized businesses that are trying to operate in an economic climate that can only be described as dismal.

The monetary policy committee’s latest growth forecast for the economy is a depressing 1.2%, but the World Bank and other economists are expecting a growth rate of less than 1% this year.

The latest official statistics had South Africa’s unemployment pegged at 29.1% in the third quarter of last year, which Stats SA said was the highest unemployment rate since it started measuring unemployment using the Quarterly Labour Force Survey in 2008.

The stats for the fourth quarter, which will be released next month, will most likely not be great.

To say that it’s been a tough start to 2020 is an understatement. It has been described, economically, as a “pivotal” time for the country.

We are anxiously awaiting the state of the nation address and the budget speech next month to see if our leaders will be able to plot a way out of this desperate situation.

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July 2020

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