COSATU statement on the unemployment figures

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is not surprised at all by the latest reports showing that the unemployment rate increased to 29,1% from  29%. There is nothing that has been done to kickstart the economy and the unemployment statistics are just evidence of that reality. These figures are also inevitable in an environment where both government and the private sector are colluding to shift more and more of the burden of the economic crisis onto the shoulders of the workers.

The government’s attitude towards the public service employees and those of the SOE’s has emboldened the private sector to retrench with impunity. 

What is clear though is that the country’s levels of unemployment have reached horrendous proportions. Retrenchment and unemployment for many people mean more than just a loss of income and consequent economic deprivation but it also means the complete destruction of family life.

The fact that unemployment has hit its highest levels in more than 11 years is further evidence that the much-oversold market-related reforms have not worked. The plight facing workers cries out for thorough economic transformation. The people of South Africa demand nothing less than the redistribution of the country’s wealth and the dismantling of the entire apartheid economic framework.

COSATU has been consistently arguing for people-centred economic development framework instead of following ineffectual and sometimes discredited economic blueprints. We need a people-driven economic and development framework that will prioritise the redistribution of assets and resources.

Sacrificing workers and communities for the sake of attracting foreign investment is not a sustainable way of fixing the economy. South Africa’s dependence on foreign capital weakens the country’s capacity to cope with the present crisis.

The inefficiencies of the enclave economy and the lack of linkages between sectors and value chains require a complete paradigm shift if the problem of mass unemployment and under-employment are to be addressed. A shift toward a labour absorbing growth path must be the starting point. 

An increasing part of the labour force that is currently in the non-formal sectors must be drawn into productive activities so that an increasing part of the population can contribute to the creation of internal demand, savings and re-investment.

We need the upcoming Mid Term Budget Policy Statement to come up with interventions to fix the challenges facing Small, Medium & Micro Enterprise Businesses because they have the potential to assist with the unemployment problem. 

The government needs to fast track the implementation of Jobs and Investment Summit Agreements and also ensure that the industrialisation strategy is implemented by all including the SOEs and the private sector DTI sectoral master plans should also be fast-tracked and the government needs to ensure that tax incentives and subsidies are given in exchange for job creation.

The government needs to focus on fixing Eskom and SOEs and abandon the Treasury’s planned austerity cuts but stop the looting, cut the fat at the top and reduce the exorbitant political perks.


Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080

Cell: 060 975 6794