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CORONAVIRUS: Your daily update
11 July 2020, 6:30 AM

The COVID-19 stats as at 10 July: 

The COVID-19 global statistics show an increase in the number of infections across the world.

Below are the stats for South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world:

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Below is Africa’s latest COVID-19 stats:

Global coronavirus update: 

 

Leclerc says Ferrari’s pace ‘not even close’ to expectation
5 July 2020, 8:45 AM

Ferrari had warned their car was off the pace but Charles Leclerc said Saturday’s qualifying for the season-opening Austrian Formula One Grand Prix was not even close to expectations.

The Monegasque was on pole at the Red Bull Ring last year but this time qualified seventh, his quickest flying lap nearly a second slower than Valtteri Bottas who took the top slot for Mercedes. Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion with Red Bull, failed to make even the top 10 and will start 11th.

“Unfortunately that’s where we are at the moment, but we need to stay positive in these moments that are very hard to find any positives,” said Leclerc.

“We cannot get demoralised by today’s result but today’s result is not what we were expecting, we’re not even close to where we expected to be.”

Ferrari have recognised failings with the design of their car and have embarked on a new path, promising aerodynamic updates for the third race of the season in Hungary.

All three Ferrari-powered teams struggled at the Red Bull Ring, however.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen qualified 18th and 19th while Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were 15th and 16th.

Ferrari, who last won a drivers’ title with Raikkonen in 2007, were overall runners-up last season but the legality of their engine was questioned.

They subsequently reached a confidential settlement with the governing FIA.

“There’s no point denying that was a disappointing qualifying session,” said team boss Mattia Binotto.

“We knew the start of the season would be difficult for us and today’s result certainly confirmed that to be the case, even more so than we had expected.

“We have to analyse very carefully every aspect of our performance and compare it to the opposition, trying to understand why there is this gap.”

Technology is a powerful determinant of change, but labour can shape its direction
5 July 2020, 8:20 AM

Technology is a product of human labour. The working class and society can, therefore, shape its direction. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), long-term technological change has created more employment than it has destroyed, and has pushed overall living standards to new levels, notwithstanding the disruption that it inevitably brings.

What’s more, the ILO concludes in a 2017 report, there’s no “clear sense that this will be otherwise in the foreseeable future”.

The Southern Centre for Inequality Studies has embarked on a research project comparing countries across the global South to explore, through global production networks, the impact of new technology on the future of work and workers. Global production networks have gained increased importance in global production organisation, co-ordination and associated international trade. Using global production networks to anchor an analytical framework enables a focus on the actors involved in the geographically dispersed, multi-scale, multi-dimensional, globalised structures of production and trade.

This includes a focus on workers.

My research focuses on the automotive manufacturing sector – South Africa’s leading manufacturing sector. The research shows that, while technology is indeed a powerful determinant of change, it is important to recognise the role that worker organisation and the state, through its industrial policy, play in shaping the direction of change.

Technological change and job disruption

My findings indicate a decline in employment in the final vehicle assembly segment by 8 600 workers, from 38 600 in 1995 to 30 000 in 2017.

During the same period, investment by final vehicle companies, known as original equipment manufacturers, increased from R0.8 billion in 1995 to R8.2 billion in 2017.

Figure 1 below shows the relationship between the investment and employment trends.

Author’s own design.

The role of the state’s industrial policy through the Motor Industry Development Programme played a key role from September 1995 to December 2012 in attracting increased investment. The plan offered incentives, including import rebate credit certificates. The incentives gave automotive exporting companies reduced import duty, or duty-free imports, on the components that they did not source locally or vehicle models they did not produce in the country.

Increased automation of production, a key part of investment by original equipment manufacturers, wasn’t introduced in isolation. With it came global production systems, new methods of work and ways of co-ordinating production, all more effective than the previous ones.

The changes included rationalisation of vehicle model platforms, in certain instances down to single vehicle platform assembly plant operations.

From January 2013 investment in the automotive manufacturing sector was led by the Automotive Production and Development Programme. This was made up of several incentives. These included a cash grant of 25%–30% of the value of qualifying investment for the vehicle assembly segment and 25%–35% for the components manufacturing segment, payable over three years.

The global economic crisis of 2008 badly affected investment, production and employment in original equipment manufacturers. This is reflected in Figure 1 above, and Figure 2 below.

Yet these manufacturers achieved remarkable productivity from 1995, as a result of technological change and the accompanying work reorganisation and restructuring.

During the period 1995 to 2017, they gained double the capacity of output per worker. Figure 2 below shows their total production volumes divided by their total employment.

Author’s own design.

The 38 600 workers employed by the manufacturers in 1995 produced 388 442 vehicles, averaging an output of 10 vehicles per worker. The rise in production surpassed half a million, reaching a peak of 652 965 vehicles in 2008. These were produced by a reduced workforce of 35 900 workers – that is the 1995 workforce less 2 700 workers.

The average output per worker increased to about 16 vehicles in 2008. The increase reached double capacity in 2014 from that of 1995, to an average of 20 vehicles per worker. In 2014 the manufacturers’ workforce was reduced to 27 715 – that is the 1995 workforce less 10 885 workers.

The trends presented here reflect the original equipment manufacturers’ specific reality. The research findings show that there are production conditions that, if strong enough, can counteract the reduction in the workforce, and even result in an increase in the workforce, which is important for industrial policy. This is clearly demonstrated by the case of VW, highlighted below.

Worker agency

In 2015, VW decided to invest R6.1 billion, including R564 million for 330 new robots, at its vehicle body construction plant in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape province.

About 600 robots, including the 300 new ones, were expected to complete the structure of each vehicle in a reduced time of one minute and 57 seconds.

The new robots resulted in 40 qualified fitters being declared redundant (not to speak of less skilled workers). VW served the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) with a retrenchment notice. The union challenged VW, resulting in an agreement for the retraining of the fitters as electricians. This paved the way for their jobs to be saved.

VW globally also allocated more production volumes to its Uitenhage plant. This helped save the jobs of (less skilled) production workers that could otherwise have been disrupted by the use of robots. And it resulted in an additional 300 production workers being required.

The plant’s production increased to 133 000 vehicles in 2018, of which 83 000 were for export markets. The 2018 output reflected an increase of 23 000 vehicles from 110 000 in 2017. In 2019 the plant reached its target of 160 000 vehicles, 27 000 more than in 2018.

Conclusion

The decline in overall manufacturers’ employment from 1995 to 2017 in the context of increased capital investment and productivity underlines the necessity of increasing local production to save jobs and create additional employment. This social upgrading through the targeting of employment creation is an important industrial policy consideration and can be linked with the investment incentives given by the state.

The VW case shows that increased production localisation in global production networks can benefit employment in two important ways, despite technological disruption. Firstly, it counteracts retrenchments consequent on the way new technology is adopted. Secondly, it creates additional employment. As the role played by NUMSA at VW indicates, organised labour can shape the direction of new technology and its impact on workers.The Conversation

Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo (PhD), Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of the Witwatersrand

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Ghana’s president self-isolates after close person tests positive for coronavirus
5 July 2020, 8:16 AM

“He has, as at today, tested negative, but has elected to take this measure out of the abundance of caution,” the statement said, adding that the president will continue to work during the period, in compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

The statement did not say if the close person was a staff or family member.

Ghana has recorded 19 388 coronavirus cases, one of the highest number of cases in sub-Saharan Africa, with 117 deaths.

The West African nation’s deputy trade and industry minister Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah resigned on Friday for violating coronavirus self-isolation measures after he tested positive for the virus.

 

SA records more than 10 000 new coronavirus cases, related deaths climb over 3 000
5 July 2020, 6:34 AM

South Africa’s cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases has jumped to 187 977 after the country reported more than 10 000 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health.

It also reported a further 74 COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the death toll to 3026.

The number of recoveries is at 91 227 translating to a 48,5% recovery rate.

The Western Cape still has the most confirmed cases and deaths, with 68 376 and 2026 respectively.

Gauteng recorded just over 5000 new cases since the last report, with confirmed cases in the province now sitting at 59 373.

46 925 tests were done in the last 24 hours,  with the accumulative number of tests done in the country since the virus outbreak at 1 792 078.

Latest Stats Below:

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