Almost all working South Africans fear losing their jobs – survey

The biggest fear of up to 92% of South African employees is losing their jobs, a survey revealed.

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This is according to the annual International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Poll for 2017, released on Monday, ahead of the G20 Labour Ministries meeting to be held in Germany this week.

The survey was conducted in March across 16 countries, including the BRICS nations. A total of 1 000 people were interviewed in South Africa.

Other concerns of South African workers include climate change (74%), weakening labour laws (74%), cyber-attacks (72%) and inequality between men and women (62%). More than half (54%) of respondents fear technology will take over their jobs.

The survey also revealed that 78% of South Africans believe the economic system favours the wealthy. South Africans (71%) want government to implement new rules for multinational companies to “end abuse” of workers through supply chains. Seventy-four percent want more apprenticeships and opportunities for life-long learning.

“Too many governments have compromised people’s prosperity in the face of corporate greed with low wages and insecure work,” said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow. “The rules of the global economy have been distorted to put the interests of the richest 1% and corporations ahead of working people, and this power imbalance is driving mistrust in governments.”

BRICS countries demand most action from their governments, the report indicated. Particular concerns are linked to wage increases, regulation of the digital economy to protect workers’ interests and protecting secure employment rights for domestic and migrant workers.

‘Trapped in poorly paid, dead-end jobs’

In South Africa, 75% of respondents want pay hikes to be addressed. Dennis George, general secretary of the Federation of Unions of South Africa, echoed these views. He explained that South African workers feel “trapped” in “poorly paid, insecure and dead-end” jobs. The report showed that about 72% of South Africans believe unions are playing an active role in society.

The report indicated that globally, wages need to be addressed. “Family incomes are in crisis, and with growing despair over wages, working people are struggling,” the report stated.

In South Africa, 57% of respondents said family incomes had fallen behind. Only 22% said their incomes have gone up and 21% said they stayed even.

Responding to the minimum wage, 85% of surveyed South Africans said it is not enough for a “decent life”. And 90% said it is not high enough. Almost two-thirds of South Africans (64%) said they are not earning enough to get by.

South Africans are also less optimistic about the economic situation, with 77% viewing it as bad.

This has impacted views on job prospects for young people. Two-thirds of South Africans believe it is unlikely the next generation will get jobs.

“In the case of South Africa, the situation is worse for young people, largely because too few jobs are being created to absorb the large numbers of new entrants to the labour market,” said George.

May 16 2017 

Lameez Omarjee