Supplementary budget should outline measures to save jobs: Cosatu

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The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it expects Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to outline measures to save the jobs of South Africans amidst the severe economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses.

Mboweni is expected to table a supplementary budget on Wednesday.

Companies including the SABC, retailer Edcon and BidAir Services have announced plans to possibly retrench staff.

In the first quarter of this year, the unemployment rate has been reported at just over 30%, up from 29.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Some analysts say this could rise by as much as 50% in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Cosatu Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla says saving jobs must be a priority for both employers and government.

“We are hoping to hear how the Minister is planning to assist some of these companies that are struggling to keep afloat . Whatever assistance that these companies are going to be getting it has to be on condition that they are going to save jobs. Since the lockdown, we’ve already seen people retrenching and yet we know that the very same people are still going to come back and ask government for assistance. The economy isn’t just about the shareholders and the owners and the employers, but it also involves workers and so far we have not really been happy with the approach that government has had. Government has allowed many of these companies to proceed to retrench without really putting conditions with how the retrenchment process has to be managed.”

In the video below, CEO of Lehumo Investments Maudi Lentsoane outlines what to expect in the Finance Minister’s supplementary budget:

SA unemployment stats

In its Quarterly Labour Force Survey released on Tuesday, Stats SA data indicated that the number of employed persons decreased by 38 000 to 16.4 million.

The number of unemployed persons increased by 344 000 to 7 million in the first quarter of this year, compared to the fourth quarter last year.

The largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector followed by the agricultural sector.

Agri Western Cape says it is looking forward to hearing what coordinated support government will be providing to the agriculture sector to deal with COVID-19 in Tito Mboweni’s supplementary budget announcement.

The organisation says compliance with lockdown regulations has proven to be a huge expense for farming producers.

Agri Western Cape CEO Jannie Strydom says the pandemic had an extremely negative impact on some parts of the agricultural industry which were not allowed to operate under level five of the lockdown.

-Additional reporting by Corbin August 

Unemployments stats (Text)