Cape Chamber takes on Cosatu

2011-05-09 18:04

Cape Town - While the Cape Chamber of Commerce shares Cosatu's fears of an economic and social catastrophe if the unemployment trend is not reversed, the union federation makes the situation worse with its unreasonable demands for wage increases, the chamber's president Michael Bagraim said on Monday.

"The wage increases that are being sought are unsustainable and will undermine growth in the economy, making job creation an impossible task. We urge Cosatu to be reasonable in their demands," said Bagraim.

Bagraim said the public service wage bill, which accounts for 40% of government expenditure, had doubled in the past five years and workers were still demanding increases that were three and four times the rate of inflation.

He said this was illustrated by the new demand for an 18% wage increase for municipal workers.

Last year, after a strike before the Fifa World Cup, they were given an 8.4% increase on top of an increase of 13% in 2009.

"These demands come at a time when the inflation rate is below 5%. They are unaffordable and they will simply discourage municipalities from filling vacancies or creating new jobs. We already have a service delivery crisis in local government and demands like this will make the situation worse," Bagraim said.

He was concerned that Cosatu did not understand the underlying causes of unemployment. Instead they insisted, he said, on blaming labour brokers and the use of contract workers for unemployment.

"Labour brokers find jobs for workers and they find workers for industry. Surely that is a constructive contribution. If there is abuse it should be rooted out, but it is important to remember that very often the temporary jobs arranged by brokers become permanent ones," Bagraim said.

Bagraim said it was time that Cosatu began to think of the welfare of the unemployed and not just the working elite who had threatened to wreck the soccer tournament and were now threatening the municipal elections to get their way.

He said the demands came at a time when the private sector had to endure wage freezes and retrenchments to survive the recent recession.

Bagraim contended that wage increases granted in the public sector were used as a benchmark to justify demands for increases in the private sector. The result was that costs were going up and the country was losing its competitiveness in global markets. This would hasten the day of a "jobs bloodbath" which Cosatu feared, Bagraim said.

  • Nasdaq7 - 2011-05-09 18:29

    Cosatu are communists. We should pay their airfare and send them to Siberia.

  • scud - 2011-05-09 19:30

    At least there is one organization in SA with backbone. Zuma and his economic midgets should take a lesson.

  • RobertKay - 2011-05-09 20:11

    And that's how Cosatu stuffs up the economy and the country. Unfortunately they are so thick, and concentrating so hard on a few uncovered toilets, or Cape Towns new Bus Route, that they can't see that their demands on behalf of the workers (?) is forcing ompanies to close down, workers losing their jobs, and the rest of us having to put up with more cheap, rubbishy Chinese imports.

  • windkind - 2011-05-09 20:16

    Lets face it guys - Cosatu, like the ANC and SACP, are being run by idiots. This is too much forward thinking for these guys.

  • BernieK - 2011-05-09 21:37


  • Intelligent.Investor - 2011-05-10 06:23

    COSATU are preventing job creation and service delivery across the country. COSATU is part of the ANC alliance. Therefor the ANC is responsible for preventing growth, job creation and service delivery. This will ultimatly lead to their downfall as voters will turn to parties that can deliver and dont bow down to COSATU and lick their boots at the expense of the nations well-being.

  • scud - 2011-05-10 08:44

    Some backbone here-are you listening Zuma and spineless cabinet?

  • albert.vanderlinden - 2011-05-19 08:19

    These labour market concepts are taught in Gr10 Economics. Maybe the Department of Education should move it to an earlier stage in the syllabus, so that those working for COSATU can learn about it BEFORE they drop out of school........

  • garco - 2011-05-19 21:15

    The ANC doesn't have much of a choice. SA being part of the BRIC countries will give the ANC an ultimatum. Do you see unions running the BRIC countries? Did you see the countries who would like to invest in SA and do business and actually create jobs? Those countries are going to put pressure on the Zuma government to shut up the unions. YOU all wait and see. Unless we get our own Margareth Thatcher to deal with our unions. I bet you all!!!!!!!!!

  • garco - 2011-05-19 21:21

    Do you think the BRIC countries will play with SA. They are going to put so much pressure on Zuma, that he will have to shut the unions up at some point. Unions doesn't have power in any of these countries yet SA with so many probllems are being controlled by unions. You all wait and see unless we get our own Margareth Thatcher to deal with the unions

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