SAFTU condemns latest job losses

The South African Federation of Trade Unions laments the fact that despite all the empty promises from the Jobs Summit employment has declined even further in the third quarter of the year ending September 2018,

StatisticsSA confirms that the number of jobs in South Africa decreased by 16,000 quarter-on-quarter, from 9,749,000 in June 2018 to 9,733,000 in September 2018.

Once again the biggest drops were in the most important sectors of the economy: manufacturing (-7,000 or -0.6%), construction (-5,000 or -0.8%), mining and quarrying (-2,000 or -0.4%), trade (-2,000 or -0.1%), transport (-1,000 or -0.2%) and community services (-1,000), StatsSA said.

These are the sectors which ought to be driving the economy out of its recession. These statistics offer little hope of any such improvement at all soon.

The stats for year-on-year employment levels in these sectors – between September 2017 and September 2018 – are even worse. Losses occurred in: construction (-22,000 or -3.5%), manufacturing (-16,000 or -1.3%), transport (-9,000 or -1.9%), mining and quarrying (-3,000 or -0.7%), and the electricity industry (-1,000 or -1.6%).

Year-on-year employment rose overall by 17,000 or 0.2%, but the increases were again not in those key manufacturing sectors but in trade (25,000 or 1.2%), community services (22,000 or 0.8%) and business services (21,000 or 0.9%). Unsurprisingly the biggest rise in employment in the third quarter was in the least productive sector – the business services ‘industry’ (2,000 or 0.1%).

These stats vindicate SAFTU’s constant warnings that we are in the midst of a job loss bloodbath. It is bringing not only misery for those who have lost jobs and their families, and hopelessness for young job-seekers seeking to enter the labour market, but also despair for the economic future of all South Africans, as more and more potentially productive workers are left outside the economy, with no more than enough income just to survive.

The talk of the country coming out of recession will give no comfort to the unemployed, as evidence is emerging that we are going to enter at best another period of ‘jobless growth’, where more jobs disappear – in mining, Eskom, the SABC, while the rich employers get richer still.

The figures also expose again the lack of any change for the better under President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC as a whole. Their policies are dictated by the credit rating agencies, international monopoly capitalism and South African big business.

SAFTU will be more determined that ever to mobilise its members, other workers and residents of poor communities into mass action on jobs and all the related issues of poverty, inequality, casualisation of labour, the VAT increase, derelict schools, understaffed hospitals and thousands forced to live in squalid and dangerous shacks, resulting in the tragic fires in Khayelitsha and Alexandra.

The federation is about to announce its 2019 programme of action on all of  these issues, which will include a total shut-down for three days. We shall draw into our ranks the majority of South Africans, employed and unemployed, casual workers, those toiling for labour brokers and on EPWP schemes, migrant workers and informal traders – all of whom are being excluded from power and driven into poverty.

They will be inspired by the current struggle being waged by the working class in France over exactly the same issues – a fuel tax increase, social spending cuts, rising prices, a stagnant economy and growing unemployment. Be prepared for a movement on the same scale as that now unfolding in France!

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