30 November 2021
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) calls on government to stop its fiscal austerity programme and hawkish monetary policy to end the relentless jobs bloodbath. This is after the latest jobs numbers from Statistics South Africa showed that the unemployment rate in the third quarter of this year has increased to a record high of 34, 9% from 34, 4% in the second quarter. The expanded unemployment rate, a more accurate representation of unemployment in South Africa, increased to 46.6% in Q3 2021 from 44.3% in Q2 2021.
Earlier this month, the South African Reserve Bank increased the repo rate by 25 basis points to 3.75% despite the fact that the economy has not yet recovered from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a big slap in the face of millions of workers, consumer and businesses trying to survive the pandemic. A fourth wave in the form of Omicron variant has now not only been confirmed but has also seen a previous travel ban imposed on South Africa by Western nations renewed. This move has pushed sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic such as tourism and hospitality further into the doldrums.
In this brutal environment, the time for the implementation of an unconditional Universal Basic Income Grant (UBIG) is now. The UBIG should be pegged at the upper-bound poverty line of R 1335 a month. The indefensible public sector wages austerity programme, alongside the cohesive reduction of the public sector work force should also be scrapped now. This should be augmented by a greatly expand and properly managed public works programme to help millions of workers who are now struggling to feed their families.
At midnight tonight, unleaded petrol grades 93 and 95 go up by 81 cents each per litre, taking the price of petrol to R20.13 a litre and R20.35 a litre respectively. While the exogenous dollar cost is of importing petrol is an unwelcome influence, the final price is pushed up almost 40% by the plethora of taxes and levies that the government imposes. These levies are overdue for review if the government empathises with the motoring public because they are pushing the price of basic goods like food and transport out of the reach of many. A classic study of pro- consumer energy policies is presented by Lesotho and Botswana, two landlocked neighbouring countries that sell petrol at much lower prices than South Africa, yet import their petroleum through South Africa.
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
Mr Ashley Benjamin
FEDUSA Deputy General Secretary
083 258 4433