Editorial, Volume 44 No 2

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Jenny Grice
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Crawling our way out of the pandemic

This issue is being published in the midst of a global pandemic which has caused huge damage across the world, particularly to workers and the poor. The last issue of the South African Labour Bulletin spotlighted how different sectors of workers were affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Hopes were high that government’s promised R500bn relief package of support that it announced in April 2020 would cushion the effects of the devastating pandemic and reboot the economy. However, according to the Institute of Economic Justice’s (IEJ) Covid-19 Response, Policy Brief #4 it can be seen that by July 2021 (pp3-4), only R207bn, or 41% of this had materialised. The worst performer was in the job creation and protection area as well as the Credit Guarantee Scheme, two areas which are in dire need of support. Some of our stories tell us the effects of this failure.

Lulama Mali, from the Informal Street Traders Organisation tells us their members have received nothing from government during this hardship.   

At a higher level Matthew Parks from COSATU outlines the frustrations and sometimes small advances made in government forums where government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Programme (ERRP) and the Jobs Summit agreements are monitored while Trevor Shaku from SAFTU sees no hope in government’s plans likening them to those of “a mad man” who keeps “repeating the same strategy in the same environment but expect[s] different results”.

Government must bring vaccinators to taxi drivers at taxi ranks just like they did for other essential workers like doctors and nurses says Clement Doncabe of the Qina National Transport Workers.

Needless to say, other ongoing problems that were there before the Covid-19 pandemic remain. Khwezi Mabasa bemoans the continued staff challenges faced in the health sector while pointing out that Covid-19 has heightened the inequalities between public and private health care.

Little has changed for domestic workers says Amy Tekié. They still suffer under employers who disregard their rights.

The unrest and destruction that followed the imprisonment of Jacob Zuma [in July 2021] has complicated the economic recovery and made people poorer. If economic recovery is going to work, it must include a Basic Income Grant says Institute for Economic Justice’s Neil Coleman.

Jenny Grice reports on the views of a broad range of analysts on the July unrest. What needs doing to avoid a repeat of these events? What do you think?

Turning to the more positive aspects of recovery going forward, Thabiso Modise suggests possible ways in which the government’s Expanded Public Works Programmes could be improved to better workers’ chances of more permanent employment while agricultural worker Mmathapelo Thobejane explains the resilience of rural women in Limpopo who are improving their farming yields despite no help from nearby mines.

Partnerships on the youth front promise to bear fruit says Jenny Grice with ambitious plans to get youth employed by tinkering both with the supply-side and demand-side of the labour market but are they just good on paper? Let us know your experiences.   

As far as trade union organisation during the time of Covid-19 goes, NUMSA’s Western Cape regional secretary, Vuyo Lufele, outlines how they’ve attempted to overcome organisational challenges of gathering mandates for centralised collective bargaining because of Covid-19.

Vanessa Pillaydetails how WhatsApp voice notes have brought hope and mobilisation to home-based workers in Uganda and South Africa in the face of Covid-19 restrictions and hardships.

SALB mourns the passing of community artist Drew (Andrew) Lindsay. Steve Faulkner remembers a remarkable soul.  

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The next issue will tackle the issue of the Just Transition. Contributors are welcome to send ideas for articles or contributions to editor@southafricanlabourbulletin.org.za or click here or post to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LabourBulletinSA/

We also welcome any comments on the articles in this issue. Send to editor@southafricanlabourbulletin.org.za

Jenny Grice, Guest Editor

Sandra Hlungwani, Social Media Manager

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