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SAFTU alarmed at effect of fuel price increase on the poor

The South African Federation of Trade Unions is alarmed at the harsh impact of tonight’s increase in fuel prices. From midnight petrol will cost 82 cents more per litre and diesel 85 cents, while illuminating paraffin is going up R1,09 and liquified petroleum gas will rise by R138 per kilogram.

The is the highest ever single increase in the price of petrol in South Africa and make it higher than ever before.

These increases will immediately affect workers who have to drive to work or use paraffin for heating. Soon after it is bound to spread to taxi commuters. The National Taxi Alliance is warning that it will have a knock-on effect on the fares commuters have to pay.

This is sure to be followed by increases in prices of food, clothing and everything else, as the cost of transporting goods to the shops is passed on to customers.

Worst of all for the poorest consumers is that these increase come on top of the seven percent rise in VAT, increases in the fuel levy (which is tied to the fuel price and so will now go up even further), the road accident fund levy and the “sin taxes” on liquor and cigarettes. The next rise will be the planned sugar tax and likely increases in electricity tariffs.

As always it is the poorest South Africans who will suffer disproportionately; they will be hit by both immediate and long-term cuts in their living standards. The lowest-paid spend over 50% to about 60% of their income on just their basic needs, excluding the cellphone bill or education or clothing, whereas those at the upper end of the market spend about 15 to 20% just on their basic needs and the rest is available income for other expenses.

These increases add up to a massive additional burden to families already struggling to survive on poverty wages, social grants or, for thousands of the unemployed, hand-outs from family and friends.

It will make the planned poverty national minimum wages of R20, R18, R15 and R11, even more pathetic – far less than workers need just to survive. It bolsters SAFTU’s opposition to this scandalous pittance, and strengthens our case for a living wage on which workers and their families no longer have to spend nearly all they income on basic essentials but can lead a good, healthy and comfortable life.

SAFTU is calling on all formations of the working class to resist this assault on their living standards. We have invited 74 Civil Society formations and are in the process of inviting every trade union, including COSATU, FEDUSA and NACTU, to a Working Class Summit to discuss the deteriorating material conditions of the working class. We hope this Summit will announce a programme that can unite the employed and the unemployed workers, the informal sector workers and those in more secure work, the students and the landless masses, the homeless and those fighting against the water crisis and the scourge of violence against women and children. We call on all those interested in participating in a such conference to contact us.

Tel: +27 (11) 331 0124
Fax: +27 (11) 331 0176
Email: info@saftu.org.za
Twitter: @SAFTU_Media
Facebook: SAFTU

Physical Address, 34 Eloff Street, Johannesburg 2001