Business Day

SA still bleeding jobs — Stats SA

- Theto Mahlakoana Political Writer

The economy continued to bleed jobs with Stats SA reporting on Thursday that employment had declined by 34,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2017. The survey has validated the fear expressed by trade unions and analysts in the first quarter that the unemployme­nt crisis in the country would worsen.

The Department of Labour says increasing minimum wages as a countermea­sure to poverty and inequality could reduce the number of strikes in SA.

The 2016 Industrial Action report has found that the labour market had experience­d a 4.7% hike in working days lost to strikes compared with 2015.

The labour economy lost R161m due to the work stoppages, which were mainly over wages, bonuses and other demands linked to compensati­on, affecting in the main the community, manufactur­ing and transport industries.

The department’s acting director-general Vuyo Mafata said a stable labour force and fair labour practices were needed to attract investors and inspire economic growth.

In February, employers and trade unions made an undertakin­g to implement the Code of Good Practice: Collective Bargaining, Industrial Action and Picketing, which would shift the tone of collective bargaining and industrial conflict in SA.

“More work stoppages were experience­d during the ‘strike season’ that are the second and third quarters of the year. The South African labour market lost a total of 946,323 working days [due to] 122 work stoppages,” Mafata said on Thursday.

Labour analyst Andrew Levy pointed to a correlatio­n between the electoral cycle and strikes, while the lack of economic growth has fuelled the problem as wage increases have slowed.

However, Levy disputed the argument that higher wages would reduce instabilit­y.

“What that would do is bump up wage claims because no one will accept less than the minimum wage and less than an increase of the minimum wage,” he said.

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