13 February 2019
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has welcomed the reduction in unemployment levels by 0.4% according to jobs numbers that have been released by Statistics South Africa. The slight reduction in the rate unemployment to 27.1% in the fourth quarter of 2018 from 27.5% in the previous three months is notable.
The number of employed people increased by 149,000 to 16.5 million in the fourth quarter while the number of unemployed people declined by 70,000 to 6.1 million compared to the third quarter, resulting in an increase of 79,000 in the number of people in the labour force. Sadly though, youth unemployment continues to be a consistent thorn in the flesh, increasing by 1,9 of a percentage point to 54,7% in the fourth quarter of 2018, said FEDUSA President Godfrey Selematsela.
However, the union federation is deeply worried about the rolling electricity blackouts by state power utility Eskom which have effectively held the country to ransom and continues to seriously hurt the economy. That the blackouts are happening in the context of the imminent breakdown of Eskom into three separate business units, namely generation, transmission and distribution as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address last week is even cause for greater concern, as it carries with it the unwelcome threats of retrenchments and job losses as management implements cost cutting measures aimed at preventing the total collapse of the power utility, argued Selematsela.
While FEDUSA acknowledges that the multi-billion rand Eskom debt burden, now estimated at more than R400 billion is a systemic threat to the entire South African economy, it would be unfair for workers to be made scapegoats by retrenching them and jeopardizing their livelihoods for a crisis that is not of their own making but is the direct result of poor governance, corruption and maladministration by senior Eskom managers in collaboration with politicians with vested interests.
FEDUSA would therefore like to call upon the government of President Ramaphosa to meet with organized labour as a matter of urgency to address the serious threats of retrenchments caused the Eskom debacle and to ensure protection of existing jobs and a procedurally fair turn-around strategy for all stakeholders, especially the workers.
Ratings agency Moody’s expects that South Africa will remain dependent on Eskom – which it rates as B2 negative. The country is still trapped in junk status in terms of sovereign credit rating largely as a result of the corruption and maladministration of the previous government and the union federation would also like appeal to the state to move with great speed in doing everything in its power to stabilize Eskom and avoid another downgrading by the credit rating agencies. Further growth in renewables and the fast tracking of transitioning South Africa towards a green economy in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and the National Development Plan (NDP), declared at the highest political level, clearly seems to be just a far cry from reality.
For interviews please contact:
Masale Godfrey Selematsela
065 652 2832/083 653 3021
FEDUSA Acting General Secretary
079 696 2626
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096