Joblessness still rising despite GDP growth

Economist Xhanti Payi says there was some surprise yesterday when Stats SA revealed that South Africa had emerged from its technical recession. Video: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Wednesday said it has “noted” that South Africa’s 2.5 percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth during the second quarter, but warned that jobs were being lost, especially in the mining sector.

Cosatu Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said, “While these numbers are encouraging, it is still too early to celebrate. We cannot ignore the fact that GDP is but one indicator of economic development and does not factor in other indicators such as unemployment and income inequality.”

READ: SA out of recession

On Tuesday Statistician General Pali Lehohla said the second quarter data shows year-on-year GDP growth was 1.1 percent, and for the six months growth has been 1.1 percent.

The latest results are an improvement from the decline that was reported in the last two quarters, which saw a decline of 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and a 0.7 percent contraction in the first quarter of 2017.

“It also is noticeable that while the GDP numbers are looking less gloomy than before … (but) even the best contributor to the data, which is agriculture, did not contribute significantly to the number of people employed because of mechanisation.

“In fact, the mining and agricultural sectors have offered very little positive news for the workers. Mining companies continue to submit section 189 retrenchment notices showing their intention to retrench more workers.”

Cosatu said AngloGold Ashanti and Bokoni Platinum Mine in Limpopo were planning to retrench 8,500 and 2,651 workers respectively

“Workers in the agricultural sector continue to work long hours more than 50 hours per week but they are paid only for 40 hours, they do not have leave days, sick maternity and paternity leave which are mandatory in terms of the law,” said Pamla.

WATCH: Limpopo mining community fears for future in face of retrenchments

“When these workers get sick because of the lack of rest they are accused of being lazy. We therefore continue to argue that economic growth cannot be achieved at the cost of the workers.”

Cosatu said it reiterates its call for a moratorium on retrenchment and for government to convene a jobs summit in order to develop short and long term measures to “stem the jobs bloodbath”. 

 

African News Agency

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