Unions, business worried
BUSINESS and trade unions have expressed concern about the rise in unemployment in South Africa.
In the quarterly labour force survey released by Statistics SA on Tuesday, unemployment in the first quarter of 2012 had risen from 23.9% to 25.2%, driven by job losses in the construction and manufacturing sector.
Of the 4.53 million people who were unemployed in the first quarter, 60% did not have matric and 68% had been looking for work for a year or longer.
The construction sector shed 71 000 jobs and manufacturing lost 67000 jobs. Stats SA attributed the high figures to seasonal effects.
Business Unity SA CEO Raymond Parsons said yesterday: "This injects renewed urgency into the need to address policy constraints to employment and to encourage all practical measures in both the public and private sectors to enhance South Africa's economic performance in the face of global challenges.
"If South Africa is to cooperate in achieving the goal of 5 million jobs over the next decade, as outlined in the New Growth Path, it is paramount that stakeholders intensify efforts to strengthen the economy's ability to sustain employment, as well as creating opportunities for workers entering the labour market to access decent work," he said.
"If unemployment is to be successfully reduced, then education, skills development, inclusive wage-setting and improved state capacity and infrastructure remain top priorities," Parsons said.
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) is also concerned.
"The figures indicate that South Africa urgently needs business-friendly regulations to improve the competitiveness of local business. Unfortunately, the current set of legislative amendments before Parliament largely introduces additional costs and burdens to business that would ultimately reduce future sustainable employment creation," Sacci CEO Neren Rau said.
"The issue of the increasing cost of labour has recently risen to prominence, but the opportunity to contain costs and retain operational flexibility through the use of short-term service contracts may soon be restricted by proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act," Rau said.
Cosatu is disturbed by the rise in unemployment too.
"It is utterly demoralising. If this trend continues, we shall fail to meet the government's target of creating five million new jobs between 2010 and 2020.
"This is further proof of the impact of the rapid casualisation of labour, which can lead to much bigger rises and falls in unemployment," Cosatu said. - email@example.com