Economic News in South Africa

27 March 2020 The South African Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) has announced a fund for athletes and artists who are facing the negative effects of the Covid-19 virus. The fund has a worth of ZAR 150 million (USD 8.54 million). Artists and athletes will have to provide proof of the losses faced by them, along with details of relevant authorities who can back up their claims.

In order to be eligible for aid from the fund, athletes who rely solely on sports for an income will have to provide proof that their events had been cancelled. Similarly, producers and organisers of events will have to provide spreadsheets listing all the events cancelled and the costs that they incurred along with proof of contracts and necessary documentation. They will also have to provide a list of practitioners with committed costs to be eligible to receive compensation. Artists and athletes who do not have a national status will have to approach their respective provinces for compensation. Complete our survey about work and life during the Covid-19 pandemic

24 March 2020 - South Africa announced a 21-day lockdown in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 (novel coronavirus), effective from March 26th. South Africa has the highest number of cases in Africa. This pandemic has already led to the economy shrinking by 2% and has caused an 11% slump in the strength of the currency. Apart from the lockdown, several other measures have been announced by the President, Cyril Ramaphosa. These include tax subsidies for low-income workers, a solidarity fund in place for those working to prevent the spread of the virus and regulations to prevent unjustified price hikes for basic goods. The two richest families of South Africa have also pledged ZAR 1 billion (USD 57 million) each to support small businesses. Working and Living during Covid-19

1 March 2020 The Central Executive Committee of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) along with the Public Servant Association and other labour unions has rejected the sharp reduction of the civil servant pay. They are also against the 30,000 job cuts that have been projected by the government to rein in the debt of the country. The Public Servant Association, which represents 230,000 civil workers, has stood against these wage freezes, and job cuts. However, the country is facing an imminent fiscal crisis, and these wages account for over 35% of public spending. If the salaries are frozen immediately, the nation could potentially save R128 billion ($8.4 billion) in the next three years.  Find out more about Trade Unions

26 February 2020 - The government of South Africa has recently announced that there is going to be a significant cut in the public sector wages. With the fiscal deficit mounting and the country facing a possible credit rating dip, the president of the country has announced that there will be a cut of 160 billion rands from the wages of the civil-servants. The cut in wages is conflicting with trade unions in  the country, but on the other hand,  government debt has risen to around 66% of the nation's GDP. On top of increasing debt, the government has to find funds to deal with defaults by  the major power company - Eskom.  Global wage comparison

18 February 2020 - South Africa has recently announced a new minimum wage for the country setting it at R20.76 ($1.39) per hour. Although this was a 3.8% increase from previous wage levels, it still did not meet the expectations of the trade unions. The trade unions were fighting for the minimum wage to be R22.50. They argued that the cost of living has increased and the growth of salaries cannot cope. The minister of finance released the gazette detailing different wages for different kinds of labour. The farmers are entitled to a minimum wage of R18.68 ($1.25) per hour. The minimum wage for the domestic workers ranks at R15.57($1.04) per hour, while those engaged in expanded public work will receive a salary of R11.42 ($0.76) per hour. What is your salary?

5 February 2020 A recent report from the Department of Labour in South Africa measures the wages that workers lost  due to strikes and industrial actions. It is estimated that workers lost around R266 million worth of wages during 2018. The report  shows a significant increase in labour participation in strikes reaching a new five year high. There was an 11% increase in  labour participating in the strikes as compared to the report of 2017. There were over one million working days lost due to 165 industrial actions in 2018. The main reasons behind the strikes were disputes over wages, bonuses, and other compensation benefits, as well as poor working conditions. However, in the year 2018, the main reason, according to the report, was for higher wages and compensation benefits. Trade Unions and the law

28 January 2020 - The biggest worker unions in South Africa have rejected the 5% increase in the national minimum wages of the nation at the National Economic Development and Labour Council. The Council is the centre for the negotiations between the labour, community, government, as well as businesses. The unions want a 12.5% increase in the minimum wages. Since the initial agreement on the minimum wages, the unions want the revised national minimum wages to reflect  inflation during the period. The first deal set the minimum wages for general workers at R20 (US$1.37) per hour,  R18 (US$1.2) for farmworkers, and R15 (US$ 1) for domestic workers. Minimum wages

20 January 2020 Many of the chrome firms in South Africa have threatened to cut jobs due to frequent power cuts, the increased cost of electricity and more competitive job markets overseas. The main cause of this is the failure of Eskom, which is the significant supplier of power to the country. The companies have warned of more than 1200 job cuts. Trade unions have reported over 7000 job losses last year in the manufacturing sector alone. The statement released by the chrome companies states that some of them have incurred severe financial losses and that they  expect this to continue. The government is under pressure to check  rising unemployment, which has reached a staggering 29%. Glencore and Merafe Resources has already begun negotiating with its workers, with a potential lay off of 665 people at their Rustenburg smelter; and trade unions have been notified by Samancor Chrome of a potential lay off of 599 jobs. Unemployment Benefits

14 January 2020 Massmart, a retail giant in South Africa, has expressed intentions of closing down 34 stores which have been identified as underperforming stores as a part of their store-optimisation programme. This mass shutdown could potentially lead to a loss of 1440 jobs.

Of the 34 stores, 23 were Dion-Wired, and the remaining 11 were Masscash Stores; both brands owned by Massmart. The South Africa Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) has made it clear that it will try its best to oppose job cuts by the retail giant. It also stated that the union was blindsided by the decision of the company officials. Trade unions in South Africa

7 January 2020 - Workers at the Robben Island Museum, South Africa, who are associated with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), have declared a wage strike.  The union had been engaged in negotiations with the museum for two months before the industrial action. Some of the requirements they stated included a 9% increase in salaries, adjustments in salaries for cost of living, awards for long service and the insourcing of security personnel and private cleaners. The point of contention arose when the museum made a counteroffer of 6.5% increase instead of a 9% increase resulting in the union taking drastic measures. Take the Salary Check to see who earns what

18 December 2019 - Stats South Africa published the latest Quarterly Employment Survey, a comprehensive survey of the job market in the country. All sectors except transportation and construction, saw a rise in the average gross earnings this quarter.  Q3: 2019 saw a decline of 0.3% in the number of jobs, approximately a loss of 28,000 jobs in the formal sector. However, compared to the same time last year there was an increase in employment by 0.8%. The greatest monthly average wages were in the electricity sector, with an average pay of R42,825. With a total of 59,000 people employed in the sector, the gross earnings paid amounts to R8.09 billion. Employment Security

5 December 2019 - The National Education and Health Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) of South Africa has stated that it will mobilise all of its members to shut down the government if the Treasury of the country moves ahead with its plan to freeze the salary of the workers. Nehawu has made it clear that it will not tolerate any negotiations that will cut the wages of the workers. The Deputy Minister of Finance, David Mosondo, stated that the wage bill constitutes 35% of the government’s total expenditure. He said that while the government was making efforts to achieve savings in the wage bill, they would also have to consider freezing wages to address the impending threat of fiscal crisis. On the other hand, Nehawu has stated that the workers should not suffer because of the stagnating economy. Trade Unions