COSATU notes President Ramaphosa’s decision to move the country to lock-down level two

15 The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to move the country to lock-down level two. We acknowledge the further reopening of more sectors of the economy and hope that more will be done to ensure that there is compliance with health and safety procedures and other protocols put in place to combat coronavirus. This further reopening of the economy will hopefully save jobs.

But reopening an already ailing economy without any drastic interventions, including the injection of new money into it is futile.  

This lack of an economic stimulus by government amidst depressed private capital investment will continue to plunge and trap the economy into what is becoming a serial stagnation, characterised by episodes of technical recessions and rising unemployment rate.

It bears emphasising that our rising unemployment rate is already at a catastrophic scale, which loudly calls for a paradigm shift away from the Neoliberal macroeconomic straitjacket that gave us a recession even before COVID-19.

It is tragic that President Ramaphosa’s administration seems to be focused on implementing an economic framework of policies that do not place employment creation as a priority. The government continues to choke the economy with austerity measures, while many of our peer countries are implementing policies that support economic growth.

The country needs an interventionist state that is ready to play a strategic role in shaping key sectors of the economy, especially the ones hardest hit by the crisis. This calls for an increase in public investment in the economy – in a manner that instills the efficient use of our limited resources.

The Federation insist on the extension of the UIF COVID-19 TERS fund that gives relief to workers. It is sad that workers are taking care of themselves and are being forced to deplete their own UIF resources because of a lack of contribution from both government and the private sector. The UIF COVID-19 TERS fund extension is a matter of principle and is non-negotiable.

The National Treasury is failing the economy regarding the R200 billion loan guarantee scheme because only R12 billion has been distributed so far. The excessive lending criterion the banks are imposing is suffocating the economy and needs to be urgently reviewed.

Government also needs to do more to force banks to implement loan deferrals and debt restructuring for struggling consumers and businesses. Many workers are losing their houses and cars because they are struggling to keep up with their loan payments. We condemn the banks for attaching cars and houses of struggling workers.

The National Treasury needs to urgently consent to COSATU’s proposal for  workers who have lost wages to access a limited portion of their pensions during this crisis. 

With regard to the health sector, it is disturbing that frontline workers still lack PPEs and they are still forced to fight for their wage increases at the PSCBC. We remain uncompromising in our fight for the safety of the frontline and other workers. We reiterate our call for workers to refuse to work under dangerous conditions.

The department of Health announced that it managed to add 25 000 new beds during lockdown to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak but it is still unable to account on the number of new doctors and nurses that have been recruited to attend to those beds. This is troubling when you consider the fact that even before the epidemic, the doctor-patient and nurse-patient ratio was short of the World Health Organisation standards.

We call on the government to radically review the Human Health Resource Plan to ensure appropriate targets are set for the employment and production of doctors, nurses, and other health workers in the public sector. We call for the filling of all currently vacant posts within the public health sector and to open new posts where necessary.

We can only judge the commitment to fight corruption on results, not intentions.

Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080

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