Unions in southern Africa have highlighted the devastating effects of Covid-19 on workers, saying the livelihoods of almost 70% of workers in the region have been severed.
A study conducted by the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordinating Council has affirmed that across the countries surveyed, wages and livelihoods have been impacted severely due to the pandemic. According to the study, about 67% of the respondents noted that there was a reduction in wages.
The council, which includes the union federation Cosatu, has called for the region to embark on a campaign and assist and encourage affiliates to fight for “national living wages” that allowed workers to meet their needs.
Among unions that carried out statistical analysis of the job losses due to Covid-19, job losses ranged between 70,000 in Zambia to 1.5 million in SA.
In SA, where the world bank found 50% of employers favoured reduced wages for more than half their staff, sectors where women predominated were the hardest hit by income and job losses. These included domestic work, hospitality, clothing, retail and informal employment.
Women faced increased unpaid care work, with children at home from school, care for the elderly and increased housework and emotional support during the pandemic, the study found. A multi-pronged approach to recovery would require an overhaul of existing policy frameworks providing for workers’ needs in light of the pandemic.
The report called for unions to emphasise the need for policies which reduced the exposure of workers (both formal and informal) to the virus. It called for governments to start collecting data on the job losses by sector, so they are able to address the issue “from an informed point and be able to offer alternatives on what could be done [nationally], in terms of social assistance and retraining”.
Source: the Citizen