It’s been a job bloodbath in the domestic worker sector.
Women, who are largely breadwinners have gone months without a salary – plunging their families into dire poverty.
SweepSouth says the economic fallout, partly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the livelihoods of many workers, disproportionately affecting black women and people living in poverty.
The report generated more than 7 500 responses from both South Africa and Kenya. Those who were surveyed in South Africa aged between the ages of 30 and 36. 54% were Zimbabweans, 41% were South African and 3.4%, were from other nationalities.
SweepSouth Chief Operating Officer, Luke Kannemeyer says, “We honestly saw what could be described as a blood bath in the industry. Up to 25% of domestic workers lost their jobs. Between the last quarter of 2021 into 2022. Because it’s one of the largest employment sectors for black women in our country and those women support multiple individuals and they are the main breadwinners.”
Kannemeyer added: “It represents around 200 thousand workers who have lost their employ. The middle scale who are the employers, so as their income has come under pressure, they cannot afford domestic work.”
From 1 March 2022, the National Minimum Wage for each ordinary hour worked increased from R21,69 to R23,19.
After job losses as a result of the pandemic and inflation at an all-time high, South African households are choosing to do without a domestic worker to save money each month.
In addition to the jobs bloodbath faced by women in the industry, the company reported that 25 000 men who were gardeners and outdoor workers – had also lost their jobs in the first quarter of this year.
Catherine Zungu worked for a young family in Randburg, for a number of years. In June this year, the family moved to New Zealand in search of greener pastures, leaving Zungu jobless. She has gone two months without a salary and her daily meals are now a struggle.
“Our 2 primary destinations where we send applicants, Canada and Australia have always relied on skilled emigrants coming into the country. When the borders were closed, it had such a huge impact on the numbers going there and it has actually increased the shortage in these countries.”
“These Australian employees are actively headhunting in South Africa. A lot of applicants are seeing the cost of living through the roof. We notice when the load shedding increases that out enquiries correlate with that”, says emigration expert Mark Wilkinson.
New World Emigration based in Cape Town says, since the July unrest last year, the company has seen a record number of enquiries from people wanting to leave the country.
The company’s Mark Wilkinson says, adding to security, load shedding and the high cost of living is pushing skilled labour abroad.
SweepSouth has warned that the second-quarter figures are likely to tell a more horrifying tale.