Cosatu says SA's youth live in terrible conditions
Young people in South Africa live in terrible socioeconomic conditions, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said on Wednesday, as it released a statement to commemorate Youth Day on Thursday.
“Young black men have an unemployment rate of 39% by the narrow definition of employment, and 48% by the definition that includes discouraged work seekers.
“Young people under 29 make up 27% of the employed. If you include those up to 34 years, the number increases to 44%.”
Cosatu added that 31% of black men earned under R1 000 per month, compared with 1% of young white women, while 46% of young black women earned under R1 000 per month.
And young workers were more likely to be in informal, contract and part-time employment, the trade union federation added.
“Many young people still toil in factories and farms, die in the mines, are permanent temps in the retail and wholesale sector and are super-exploited by labour brokers.
“Although government has managed to get 1.4-million people on Aids antiretroviral treatment, we still languish under a malfunctioning public healthcare system.”
Access to education
Cosatu said this Youth Day should be dedicated to transforming South Africa’s education system, which was failing most working-class children, who were trapped in a system in which 70% of matric passes were accounted for by only 11% of former model C schools.
Cosatu added that 70% of the schools did not have libraries, 60% did not have laboratories, and 60% of children were pushed out of the schooling system before they reached grade 12.
“Millions of young people are still excluded from accessing education beyond secondary school.”
SA’s education system, as in the apartheid era, hit working-class children the most.
“The price that today’s youth pay for passing through the dysfunctional schooling system is simply too high. It is a price of high unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, high HIV infection rates and many other social problems.
“The only way to stay true to the vision of Solomon Mahlangu, Andrew Zondo and many others who died for it is for all of us to play a role in ensuring that our public schools function.”
Cosatu said the country was sitting on a ticking timebomb of youth unemployment, poverty and mounting impatience.
“While we note the government’s commitment to create five-million jobs over 10 years, this can only work if there are proper monitoring mechanisms accompanied by a commitment to restructuring our economy on to a new growth path so that we can escape from the economy we inherited from colonialism—which is over-dependent on the export of raw materials, and dominated by the mining and financial sectors—and move to an economy based on labour-intensive manufacturing industry.”
The last thing young people in SA needed was a youth wage subsidy that would only “enrich capitalists and further segment the working class”.
Cosatu said the timebomb had already begun to explode in the service delivery protests that had been seen around the country.
“Left unresolved, these conditions, like the socioeconomic conditions of the black working class in the 1970s, will propel young people to strive for change and chart their own routes out of the misery of unemployment and under-employment, poverty, disease, slum housing and the bucket system.”
Cosatu noted that this Youth Day also coincided with the start of the 24th national conference of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), held under the theme “Economic Freedom in our Lifetime”.
“We take this opportunity to congratulate the ANCYL on the sterling work over decades, and reflected today in its discussion documents, particularly around the transformation of our economy, the creation of decent jobs and the realisation of all the Freedom Charter demands.
“We wish the ANCYL a successful conference, marked by robust discussions and the zeal to make revolutionary reforms in order to transform the lives of millions of young people in this country.”—I-Net Bridge