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Govt to blame for current unemployment figures – Numsa

The union says the latest unemployment figures indicate that entire industries are on the brink of collapse.

Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says government is to blame for the current unemployment figures.

Earlier this week, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) revealed that unemployment had risen to 26.7 percent in the first quarter.

The union says the 2.2 percent spike in joblessness is appalling.

Numsa says the latest unemployment figures indicate that entire industries are on the brink of collapse, with mining and steel particularly vulnerable.

The union's acting national spokesperson Patrick Craven says the statistics reveal a national crisis which requires more drastic action.

"It's the number of people who are now coming into the labour market who are pushing up the rate of unemployment."

Craven says government should have intervened a long time ago.

"What it would cost to import skill, when in fact it was being manufactured much more cheaply here, simply in order to make quick profits."

Numsa has called on government to designate all products which can be manufactured locally or be produced by local companies.

MORE ECONOMIC WOES...

The latest unemployment figures and other local economic woes have pushed the rand back to above 15 to the dollar.

The rand was the worst performer among its emerging market peers yesterday, losing more than two percent against the dollar.

The rand, also hit by a stronger dollar and lower commodity prices, had gained some ground against the greenback after Moody's decision not to downgrade the country's debt and maintain its negative outlook.

Fitch and Standard & Poor's, who both have South Africa's debt just one step above subinvestment grade, are due to make their ratings decisions in June, which would potentially further weaken the rand.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Monday said he would seek to convince Fitch and S&P that the country is on the right economic track, but some analysts see politics as a major risk to implementation ahead of local elections in August.

"Today's employment figures are very grim, but tell us little that we didn't already know about South Africa's troubled labour market. The political impacts may be more significant," said Africa analyst at Capital Economics John Ashbourne.

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