The employment figures released by Stats SA made a mockery of reports of economic growth, trade union Uasa said on Tuesday.
Spokesperson André Venter said the Soccer World Cup stemmed the flow of job losses only temporarily. Once the tournament was over, employment numbers would decrease at a faster rate.
“These [latest] figures make a mockery of economic growth. It is clear to Uasa that employers exploited the recession by drastically reducing employment numbers.”
Stats SA revealed on Tuesday that employment numbers were down by 242 000 between end March 2009 to March 2010.
Venter said job losses had become synonymous with the world wide experience after the recent recession.
He said while government infrastructure spending created about 180 000 jobs, creating the impression that the country was not going to be hit as hard by the recession as other countries.
“Due to the temporary nature of these [government infrastructure] jobs, however, the real impact of the recession is only hitting us now,” he said.
“If the rate of job losses as seen between April and May continue for a full year, it could mean a loss of between 780 000 and 800 000 jobs in 2010.”
Between April and May 2010, Venter said, 0.5% of the workforce lost their jobs.
He said companies used the recession to get rid of workers to improve their profits.
“Pressure from shareholders for greater profits undoubtedly contributed to this phenomenon,” said Venter.
“The fact that good company results are forthcoming, despite the recession, is ample proof that profits are of far greater importance than retaining jobs for workers who are instrumental in generating these profits.”
Salary levels of those employees who were fortunate to still have a job rose by an average of 12%, Venter said.
“[This] is more proof that employers are prepared to pay more for fewer employees.” — Sapa