Business condemns Wednesday’s shutdown, highlighting its adverse impact on economy

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Business has condemned Wednesday’s shutdown, highlighting its adverse impact on the economy. Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) members protested against the high cost of living, unemployment and poverty.

However, some of the country’s major public transport companies continued operations, urging unions to seek alternative ways to address the challenges facing the country.

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Cosatu says workers are drawing a line in the sand over the rising cost of living that is putting severe financial pressure on the working class and the unemployed.  The union federation says it is the responsibility of both the government and the private sector to seek relief for the burden facing South Africans.

“You’ll know that those who are likely to be employed today, they’re unable to transport themselves to work because the salary that their taking home is actually less than their using to go to work.  They can’t afford food grocery basket today. The petrol is unaffordable; the electricity which is expensive is also unavoidable.  We are trying to say to policy makers and captains of industries, particularly the private sector, must rethink the policies that they are following,” says Mike Shingange, Cosatu’s First Deputy President.

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Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) says while the national shutdown is aimed at getting government to act, it will have a negative impact on the economy.  BUSA CEO Caz Coovadia says the protest action will erode investor confidence and cause delays in production, among other adverse effects.

“We believe that actions that further erode the economy and further harm the economy cannot be correct and cannot help. We are also not in favour of some of the calls being made like turning back the interest rate hike and not having wage increases within the context of inflation because the Reserve bank raises interest rates to control inflation which is their mandate, we believe that inflation must be controlled,” adds Coovadia.

The Putco bus company says its buses were able to operate without disruptions despite the national shutdown. Putco says a decision was taken to operate as normal following a risk assessment aimed at addressing the concerns of both passengers and drivers.

“We have not received information that there were any disruptions so we operated normally despite our concerns. This informs us that we will be able to operate as well during the afternoon when passengers will be coming back home. But we are of course keeping our ear on the ground and our eyes peeled in terms of any developments. Operation Managers are there to inform in terms of decisions that should be taken should there be any changes to the situation,” Putco’s Lindokuhle Xulu explains.

Meanwhile, taxi council, Santaco also elected not to partake in the national shutdown. It says it does not believe that embarking on a shutdown is the right way of resolving South Africa’s economic problems.

“Our view is that indeed we do have problems as an industry, issues around petrol is an open secret, issues around affordability of vehicles, and these are issues we’ve raised with the minister. But the problem is most of these issues that have befallen the country have their own challenges in terms of the country itself having the ability to having any control over them. Which is why we believe alternative ways should be sort in addressing some of these problems,” Santaco’s Thabiso Molelekwa explains.

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