Almost 60 000 employees could lose their jobs in South Africa in 2016, a report by Solidarity trade union revealed in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Solidarity’s research shows that employees in the mining industry are hit hardest with 36 companies that have been engaged in retrenchments during the past year, and with 29 261 employees facing retrenchment in the industry.
Second worst off is the ICT industry with 8 141 employees at six companies being affected by retrenchments.
In addition, 24 companies in the metal and engineering industry have announced retrenchment processes since April 2015 involving around 7 918 employees, while six companies and 835 employees in the chemical industry have been affected by retrenchments.
The loss in jobs will impact on other job opportunities, Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“For example, in the mining sector, 1,7 job opportunities are created for every permanent appointment made,” he said. “In other words, the moment such a person is retrenched, 1,7 jobs are lost.
“The situation in the manufacturing sector is much worse as four external jobs, including jobs at service providers, contractors and support services, are lost for every permanent job abolished.”
Du Plessis said he was concerned that, increasingly, employees were accepting voluntary severance packages, because they “have simply reached a saturation point with having to work amid such uncertainty”.
South Africa is in the midst of an almost perfect storm that is destroying jobs, Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann said at the event. “There is no sign that it will subside.”
“The major factors that are fuelling the storm include unstable global conditions, Chinese surpluses, weaker local growth prospects, the changed structure of the labour market and weak commodity prices,” said Hermann.
“Political uncertainty sparked by the [former finance minister Nhlanhla] Nene debacle and political statements, systemic corruption and weakening investor confidence further contributed to the storm.
“To make matters worse, new empowerment codes with totally unrealistic targets have been unilaterally announced for an already beleaguered mining industry,” Hermann said.
Government can’t even create a climate of investor and business confidence amid the jobs rout, as President Jacob Zuma “has become a symbol of a lack of confidence”, said Hermann.
“As a result it is virtually impossible for government to do the single most important thing to calm the storm, and that is to create confidence.”