/ 8 December 2009

Preserve jobs, say Vavi and Godsell

South Africa must preserve as many current jobs as possible, the co-chairs of the Millennium Labour Council, Bobby Godsell and Zwelinzima Vavi, said on Tuesday.

”While the cost of workers’ wages is likely to be a significant cost in most businesses, it is not the only area where cost reductions can be effected,” Godsell, former chairperson of Eskom, told a media briefing on their joint proposals to limit retrenchments in the country.

Two major areas that required at least equal review were those of capital expenditure and shareholder returns in the form of dividends.

”We do not suggest that cuts in these areas are either easy or without consequence, but simply urge that they be considered,” Godsell said.

Prior to accepting the retrenchment route, labour should consider other ways of reducing labour costs, the Congress of South African Trade Unions’s Vavi said.

”Short time, wage freezes and wage cuts should be considered,” he said.

Godsell said that together with Vavi he was appealing to business at the end of the year to reflect on alternatives to retrenchments. ”The end of the year is when companies make critical decisions on their workforce,” he said.

Vavi told the briefing it was ”never too late” to embark on the preservation of jobs.

”But the 959 000 people who have lost their jobs this year would disagree,” he added. — Sapa