South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) revealed their members are “preparing for war” after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced government’s intention to expand the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) in his state of the nation address (SONA).
Focus on jobs
Ramaphosa’s SONA had a heavy focus on job creation, especially among the youth of South Africa of which over 50% are unemployed.
“Government will continue to provide employment through the Expanded Public Works Programme, especially in labor-intensive areas like maintenance, clearing vegetation, plugging water leaks and constructing roads,” he said in parliament.
“We will continue to develop programmes to ensure that economically excluded young people are work ready and absorbed into sectors where ‘jobs demand’ is growing.”
His plans to create an additional two million jobs over the next 10 years, as well as expanding the EPWP were generally well received during his speech in parliament but it has certainly not been universally praised.
Cheap municipal labour
Samwu, the largest local-government trade union in South Africa, was not pleased by the latter claiming the EPWP does not do anything for poor people in this country, adding it merely provides a source of cheap, expendable labour to government agencies.
“EPWP was introduced by government a few years ago as a poverty alleviation programme. This, however, has not fundamentally changed the lives of South Africans but rather has rendered them as cheap labour to municipalities,” Samwu said in a statement.
“These are people who are performing the same functions as those who are employed permanently and directly by municipalities, they are rendering services which are permanent functions of municipalities. Despite performing the same functions, they receive peanuts for doing the same job as their fellow municipal workers.”
“These funded vacancies form part of the coalface of service delivery yet they are not filled because government has found a source of cheap and easily disposable labour.”