Thursday | 14 May | 2020
We are ordinary people who are ready to work and have a right to work. Our call on government is to allow everyone who can work in a way that takes care of our health to do so. We do not choose between health and work, but for work that can be done in a way that does not compromise our health.
South Africa is in a state of disaster, partly because of a virus that has hit the world, and partly because of irrational restrictions that are destroying the economy and jobs. However, South Africa is not a dictatorship where orders must be awaited from a command council. We, ordinary people who want to work, have a voice that must be heard.
We see how the economy and jobs are being destroyed and we are not just going to sit back and wait. All over the world, workers are returning to their jobs. Countries have found ways to ensure health at work. In various countries people have been back at work for several weeks and it has already been proven that workplaces that take the necessary precautions can be safe and healthy workplaces where the coronavirus is not transmitted. We are claiming our right to work in our own country in a way that does not compromise our health. Government cannot stand between us and our jobs.
The lockdown could cause the Gross Domestic Product to shrink by 23%, and the unemployment rate can rise to 50%. According to Statistics South Africa 36,8% of companies with a turnover of more than R2 million will cut their workforce, and 30,6% are likely to close their doors. An ongoing lockdown will lead to catastrophic economic consequences, job losses, famine and loss of life. Mortality as a result of the economic crisis could be more than 29 times the mortality rate from the virus.
For others it is a matter of statistics; for us it is a matter of our income and our ability to care for our families. For government it is a regulation; for us it is a disaster that will affect all people in South Africa.
We call on the President to amend South Africa’s strategy to manage the Covid-19 pandemic. Create safe workplaces by forcing employers to meet rigorous requirements but stop keeping most workers from their workplaces and their income. Businesses and employers that can meet the requirements for a healthy workplace must be able to resume business, and those of us who can work in a way that will not compromise our health must be able to work.
We are taking a stand for our right to work in a way that will take care of our health. No regulation should stop us from doing so.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.