Austerity will Aggravate the Unemployment Crisis– FEDUSA
30 March 2022
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) says the government’s austerity programme and the Reserve Bank’s harsh monetary policy will only serve to aggravate the unemployment crisis. FEDUSA’s call comes after jobs numbers from Statistics South Africa on Tuesday showed that the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2021 has increased to a record high of 35,3% from 34,9% in the third quarter.
Earlier this month, the South African Reserve Bank increased the repo rate by 25 basis points to 4.25% despite the fact that the economy has not yet recovered from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a big blow to millions of workers, consumers and businesses who are already facing severe economic hardships.
In this brutal environment, FEDUSA would like to reiterate its call to the government to intervene in runaway fuel prices. Fuel prices for all grades of petrol and diesel are expected to hit R24 per litre in April as the Russian/Ukraine war drags on. The international price of crude oil is currently hovering around $108 a barrel from a high of $140 a barrel two weeks ago. These prices will strangle the already embattled motoring public further if the government fails to intervene. They were already paying more than R20 per litre before the start of the war.
This is also an opportune time for the government to seriously consider converting the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant into a Basic Income Grant pegged at the monthly food poverty line of R624.
The indefensible public sector wages austerity programme, alongside the cohesive reduction of the public sector workforce, should also be scrapped now. This should be augmented by a greatly expanded and properly managed public works programme to help millions of workers who are now struggling to feed their families.
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
Mr Ashley Benjamin
FEDUSA Deputy General Secretary
083 258 4433