Loom­ing jobs blood­bath in min­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing roils trade unions

Sol­i­dar­ity of­fi­cial says firms are ham­strung be­cause of ris­ing pro­duc­tion costs and er­ratic power sup­ply

Pretoria News - - BUSINESS REPORT - DINEO FAKU dineo.faku@inl.co.za

SOUTH African trade unions have called on the gov­ern­ment to ur­gently re­view its eco­nomic poli­cies amid a jobs blood­bath that has seen min­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies an­nounce plans to re­trench over 5 000 em­ploy­ees.

Par­tially owned Telkom, re­tail gi­ant Mass­mart and fer­rochrome pro­duc­ers Mer­afe Re­sources and Sa­man­cor last week an­nounced that they were in con­sul­ta­tion with unions to pos­si­bly cut a com­bined 5 765 jobs.

Sol­i­dar­ity deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary for min­ing and engi­neer­ing Wil­lie Venter yes­ter­day ad­mon­ished the gov­ern­ment to ur­gently re-eval­u­ate the ex­ist­ing eco­nomic poli­cies that sup­press the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try to avert job losses.

“Al­though com­pa­nies cite the many chal­lenges ex­pe­ri­enced in lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets as rea­sons for re­trench­ments, they also con­sis­tently ar­gue that more com­pet­i­tive elec­tric­ity and trans­port tar­iffs are needed to be able to com­pete with in­ter­na­tional com­peti­tors,” said Venter.

Venter said that the gov­ern­ment made it im­pos­si­ble for com­pa­nies to com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally be­cause of its role in in­creased pro­duc­tions costs, the er­ratic elec­tric­ity sup­ply and in­creases in elec­tric­ity tar­iffs, which were the main rea­sons for the re­trench­ments.

Fed­er­a­tion of Unions of South Africa act­ing gen­eral sec­re­tary Rief­dah Ajam said the South African econ­omy faced a co­nun­drum of com­mit­ments made at last year’s Pres­i­den­tial Jobs Sum­mit that were yet to be met by in­dus­try play­ers.

“The out­look for 2020 is very bleak.

The Fi­nance Min­is­ter (Tito Mboweni) will have to bal­ance the fis­cus by try­ing to re­duc­ing the head­count of pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ees while com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Telkom are can­ni­bal­is­ing its em­ploy­ees,” Ajam said.

Sa­man­cor Chrome and Mer­afe Re­sources have an­nounced plans to lay off 600 and 665 em­ploy­ees re­spec­tively.

Eskom has been the bane of the econ­omy and has caused dis­tress for the business com­mu­nity by fail­ing to en­sure a sta­ble sup­ply of elec­tric­ity.

Mer­afe Re­sources said the re­trench­ments were the re­sult of de­te­ri­o­rat­ing op­er­a­tions and mar­ket con­di­tions across the South African fer­rochrome in­dus­try, in­clud­ing un­sus­tain­able elec­tric­ity tar­iffs and in­ter­rup­tions, cross-sub­si­dies and real cost in­fla­tion.

The com­pany added that th­ese fac­tors had also led to the mov­ing of sig­nif­i­cant vol­umes of fer­rochrome pro­duc­tion to lower-cost com­peti­tors over­seas.

Last week Business Unity South Africa (Busa) urged Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to grab the bull by the horns and take de­ci­sive ac­tion in deal­ing with the chal­lenges fac­ing the econ­omy.

Busa pres­i­dent Sipho Pityana said that the eco­nomic cri­sis in South Africa, es­pe­cially the lack of en­ergy security, de­manded ur­gency, agility, quick-footed re­sponses and yet hum­ble and thought­ful stew­ard­ship.

Sup­plied

Mer­afe Re­sources says the re­trench­ments are the re­sult of de­te­ri­o­rat­ing op­er­a­tions and mar­ket con­di­tions. |

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