Johannesburg - Unions must realise that getting higher wages
for workers could be at the cost of jobs, SA Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus
told Numsa delegates on Wednesday.
She was speaking in Johannesburg at a National Union of
Metalworkers of SA conference, held to decide on next year's bargaining strategy.
"It is very important to realise that there is a
potential worsening of the situation," said Marcus, after presenting an
overview of the global economic situation where a number of global trading
partners were either in decline or teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
"Higher wages might well be granted, but it could be at
the cost of employment," she cautioned.
"That is one of the factors that we face... that the
higher wage bill might affect employment."
She said there was no question that extreme poverty needed
to be addressed and there was a high level of inequality in society.
But there had been a rise in the black working class and one
had to look at the nature of increasing "black-black" inequality.
It was imperative that workers and organised labour
understood the companies and the sectors they worked in and that they
understood profit and loss.
Earlier, delegates heard that union members were no longer
prepared to accept CPI-linked increases as these were not related to the real
costs they faced and were not changing their lives.
Marcus acknowledged the Congress of SA Trade Unions' call
for intervention in the rand/dollar exchange rate to set it at a rate that
might be favourable for export sectors such as theirs - a suggested R8.50.
But she said: "We do not fix the exchange rate, we do
not target the exchange rate."
This was because the rand was "a very open
currency", traded in many areas and was "far too big for us to