The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says although it supports government’s strategy to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it is concerned that no economic relief measures have been announced for the industries that the new lockdown regulations will affect.

On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would go into an adjusted alert-level-3 of the lockdown which will see some businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores close early.

The video below, is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address:

It also re-implemented the ban on the sale of alcohol and closed all beaches, parks and dams in hotspots areas.

Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks says a lack of relief for these industries will collapse businesses and result in more job losses.

“Glaringly missing from the [President’s] speech was economic relief measures. You closing down bottle stores, wine farms, large parts of the tourism industry. These are huge employers for hundreds of thousands of innocent workers. Government stopped the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) relief since October 16.”

“It needs to provide some sort of relief to workers. Otherwise, you condemning them to absolute poverty and starvation. You are threatening to collapse thousands of employers, we simply cannot afford to lose any more jobs,” adds Parks.

Supply for COVID-19 vaccine

Meanwhile, Cosatu says government should have constructed a guarantee with Johnson and Johnson to secure supply for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, as it will be manufactured in South Africa.

The US company has signed an agreement with local manufacturer Aspen for the vaccine to be produced at a plant in Port Elizabeth. Cosatu has called on government to move with speed in the procurement of the vaccine in order to begin a vaccination campaign.

Cosatu’s Mathew Parks has expressed concern that as the worst-affected country on the continent, South Africa is lagging behind in vaccine programmes. He also says government should do more to enforce compliance with the new alert level-three lockdown regulations.

“We sympathise with government its clear that government didn’t have much choice and to be fair the President can’t sit in our living rooms, he can’t sit in the bottle stores and shebeens and make sure we behave. Citizens must take responsibility. Sadly there’s no forcing by the state to make sure people obey and if you don’t start doing that then there’s no point in making additional restrictions.

The health interventions, the economic interventions are not sustainable in the long term you need to roll out the vaccination programme. We already seeing many countries vaccinating people. We felt government had a better plan in place when they announced earlier this year we were going to be locally producing this vaccine through Johnson and Johnson.”

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