Solidarity warns construction sector over jobs

Trade union Solidarity on Tuesday warned against an uncertain future in the construction industry, following the latest GDP data, which revealed that there had been no growth in the sector.

Statistics South Africa data showed on Tuesday that the construction industry had contributed 0.0 of a percentage point for six consecutive quarters.

Solidarity said that for the first time in almost a decade, construction was at the point of negative growth. “This will most probably have a negative effect on job security and job creation for the sector,” it said.

According to the trade union, the bind was partially due to the government’s empty promises of large construction projects. Solidarity said that growth figures of previous years were “most probably” overestimated, since the non-recurrent large construction projects for the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup had not strengthened the economic manufacturing power in the South Africa economy. “If none of these projects are taken into account, the deceleration in the sector would have transpired earlier,” it said.

Stats SA revealed a 4.8% growth in the GDP for the first quarter. A growth figure of 4.4% was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele announced last year that about R700-billion will be spent on developing roads, bridges and dams. Moreover, a high-speed train system between Johannesburg and Durban is also planned,” said Piet le Roux, senior labour economic researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute.

“In April this year, Ndebele announced the S’hamba Sonke road maintenance programme of R22-billion and a railway upgrade system of R97-billion. These programmes will apparently create more than 170 000 jobs, but no clear framework for the implementation of these projects has been announced,” Le Roux said. “Nothing concrete has come from these promises. The industry was rather afflicted by collusion scandals,” he added.

The economic researcher said that the growth, and consequently the forecast, for employment in the manufacturing sector appeared optimistic. “The 14.5% growth in the manufacturing sector contributed almost half (2.2 percentage points) of the total growth of 4.8% in the GDP for the first quarter. Moreover, the growth of 4.8% in the financial industry contributed another percentage point in the total GDP growth figure,” Le Roux said.

“It is evident that the government is still not meeting their own targets of about 7% growth in the GDP and will probably not achieve their goal of creating five million job opportunities by 2020,” he concluded.—I-Net Bridge

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