The Congress of South African Trade Unions is deeply alarmed by an increase in the in the price of fuel. This increase will inevitably hit the poor very hard and will make it difficult for most workers to afford basic necessities and take care of their families.
We already know that according to Statistics South Africa more than half of the South African population live in poverty. In fact, the number of people living in extreme poverty, persons living below the 2015 Food Poverty Line of R441 per person per month, has increased by 2,8 million, to nearly 14 million. Women, children and the elderly are the hardest hit by poverty and this fuel increase will make matter worse.
COSATU will be engaging a number of trade unions and civil society organizations to discuss a plan of action on how we can get this price down and protect the most vulnerable from the ever escalating cost of living. Since workers will be struggling to afford public transport fares, we encourage them to use the bargaining process to compensate the increase in the cost of living.
We call on government take responsibility for decreasing transport subsidy at a time when the operating costs have increased in these fuel price hikes placing more financial burdens on the working class and poor. The fragmentation of transport services in the country continues to undermine access to affordable, safe and reliable public transport.
We are calling on our government to consider increasing subsidies for public transport and also work on investing in our transport system. There is an urgent need to improve the quality and efficiency of our public transport, particularly in poorer communities and rural areas.
COSATU reiterates its position that the public transport system should be well coordinated and integrated. In our view, this is crucial for enhancing local economic development and eliminating the apartheid spatial challenges.
COSATU believes that the state should improve intergovernmental coordination of public transport provision so that it is linked with the provision of basic services. In addition to this, the transport infrastructure in rural areas needs to be expanded and improved.
The federation also wants government to better regulate price controls in the transport sector. Many of the pass companies will use this fuel increase to recover the cost as a result of a recently concluded bus strike and many taxi operators do not use any scientific approach to adjust travel fees. This will devastate workers who already spend about 15% of their money on transport every month.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794