South Africa is already in a labour recession, says a report released yesterday by trade union Solidarity.
According to the report unemployment could rise by up to 25 percent in the first quarter of 2009.
Up to 32 companies are already retrenching about 22000 employees, the report said.
Companies hit hardest by the retrenchments are Ford (800), ArcelorMittal (200 contract workers), DRD Gold (1700), Lonmin (5550 plus 1400 contract workers), Uranium One (1013) new car dealers (3500), second-hand car dealers (1500), Absa (1210) and Mutual & Federal (600).
"It is expected that the numbers could still rise drastically," Solidarity said. "It cannot really be determined how many contract workers are losing their jobs.
The largest group of these workers, namely 11695, was in the mining industry, and 6 100 was in the vehicle manufacturing industry.
The social impact of retrenchments on communities was incalculable, the union said.
"If it is estimated that every employee supports between seven and eleven dependants, it means that between 150000 and 200000 people will be affected by the retrenchments."
Job losses also meant less buying power, which then had a ripple effect on the economy of communities. - Sapa