COSATU statement on the latest Statistics South Africa Employment Report

27 June 2023

The latest report from Stats SA on South Africa’s employment levels is yet another depressing wake up call for government and the private sector that we cannot continue as is and somehow expect miracles or things to change for the better.

Stats SA’s latest employment report shows that total employment for the first quarter of 2023 decreased by 21 000 with significant job losses of 36 000 in trade and industry and 32 000 in business services.  This marks another increase in our overall unemployment rate by 0.02%.  Full time employment shrunk by 63 000 whilst part time employment increased by 42 000.  Total earnings by workers decreased by R34.1 billion or 4%. 

These are alarming signs of stagnation for an economy with a total unemployment rate of 42.4% and a meek 0.4% GDP growth rate last quarter.  Government and business need to treat unemployment as our number one crisis as a nation.  Continuing along the path of reckless austerity budget cuts to key public services in the state, allowing municipalities to continue to underspend their infrastructure roll and allowing billions to be lost in the fiscus to wasteful expenditure and corruption cannot be allowed to continue.  Organised Business too needs to get off its pedestal and lead from the front in an active and organised drive to ramp up local investments and local procurement, especially in jobs rich sectors.

Government needs to double its efforts to support Eskom’s energy action plan to end loadshedding.  We need a more coherent and active intervention plan by the state to secure and rebuild our freight and passenger railway network and modernise our ports.  These are key to getting workers and our products to their destinations on time.  A well run Transnet will unlock thousands of jobs in mining, manufacturing and agriculture.  COGTA and Treasury need to intervene in our myriad of dysfunctional municipalities to ensure they provide the basic services that communities and the economy depend upon.

More support and resources, including filling key vacancies, need to be given to our law enforcement organs, e.g. SAPS, SARS, NPA, SIU, Hawks and the courts if we are to send a message to the public that government is serious about tackling crime and corruption.  This war will not be won with platitudes. 

Whilst we deal with these fundamental obstacles to unlocking the economy and slashing unemployment, we need to ensure that we do not leave workers and the unemployed behind.  Key interventions must include:

·       Increasing and not ending the Presidential Employment Stimulus to accommodate 2 million active participants, enabling young people to enter the labour market, earn a salary and gain invaluable skills and experience.

·       Raising the SRD Grant to the Food Poverty Level of R624, which has not once been adjusted for inflation since it started in 2020, and link its recipients to skills and employment programmes.

·       Accelerating the roll out of the public infrastructure programme which has been beset with delays, including extortion by criminal syndicates.

·       Ensuring the commencement of the two-pot pension proposals that will provide struggling workers early access to a portion of the pension funds from 1 March 2024 and that the proposed immediate relief workers could access be increased from R25 000 to R50 000 post tax deductions.

South Africa’s economy has shown itself to be remarkably resilient in spite of all the challenges thrown at it.  What is needed is for government and the private sector to begin providing the stimulus it needs to take off.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:

Matthew Parks
Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687