REMARKS MADE BY THE SATUCC PRESIDENT
COMRADE ZINGISWA LOSI AT THE OPENING OF THE SATUCC SEMINAR ON THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON WORKERS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA HELD ON 18TH AUGUST 2020.
Leaders of the Apex Alliance Partners & their affiliates
Dear comrades and colleagues,
As we may all have learned earlier on today from various speakers during the opening of this 16th Civil Society Forum (CSF), in terms of the global economy, it is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the supply (production of goods and services) as well as the demand (consumption and investment).
All businesses, regardless of size in the SADC region and beyond, are still facing serious challenges especially those in the aviation, tourism and hospitality industries, with a real threat of significant declines in revenue, insolvencies and massive job losses.
Following travel bans, border closures and quarantine measures that we have witnessed being implemented in the SADC region, many workers have not been able to move to their places of work or carry out their jobs, which has knock-on effects on incomes, particularly for informal and casually- employed workers. Given the current environment of uncertainty and fear, enterprises are likely to delay investments, purchases of goods and the hiring of workers.
Prospects for the economy and the quantity and quality of employment in the SADC region and beyond are deteriorating rapidly. While updated forecasts vary considerably — and largely underestimate the situation — they all point to a significant negative impact on the global economy.
According to International Labour Organisation estimates released in May 2020, around 68 per cent of the world’s total workforce including 81 per cent of employers and 66 per cent of own-account workers, are living in countries with recommended or required workplace closures.
Nearly all employers and own-account workers in lower middle-income countries are affected. Since these are economies with high levels of informality and limited fiscal means and policy space to respond to the needs of such enterprises and own-account workers.
It is this global outlook of the impact of COVID-19 that necessitated SATUCC to commission a study on the Impact of COVID-19 in SADC region to enable us understand how it has specifically affected the workers in the region. This was thought to be critical step for SATUCC towards strengthening the trade unions’ capacity to derive concrete and practical interventions on the catastrophic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic in the SADC region.
Most importantly, trade unions, CSOs, churches, partners and other formations can utilise this research to inform the development of a harmonised position on the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the working people within the framework of decent work agenda.
Today, we are therefore privileged to receive preliminary highlights from this on-going study as we engage in discussions on COVID-19 during this 16 Civil Society Forum (CSF).
Lastly, now that we have a regional study on the impact of COVID-19 on workers in Southern Africa, it is perhaps important for trade unions at national level in partnership with CSOs, churches and other formations to collaborate on undertaking national studies on the same so as to inform us on the peculiarity of the nature and context of the impacts of COVID-19.
It is through this process that we can learn from country specific challenges, good practices and draw good lessons from countries in order to develop a comprehensive approach on how to cushion the masses in the SADC region from the catastrophic impacts of pandemics now and in future.
I thank you.