Almost two years into Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency, South Africa’s leader is finally taking on the nation’s unions.
South Africa’s powerful labour groups supported Ramaphosa’s rise but they’re standing in the way of choices needed to save the crippled state companies threatening the economy.
The national airline announced plans to reduce its workforce by 18%. South African Airways also refused to meet demands for a pay increase that’s double inflation, prompting workers to call a strike. The South African Post Office wants to eliminate 776 workers and the Finance Minister has raised labuor’s hackles by saying the government’s wage costs need to fall.
Until now, Ramaphosa’s union allies have successfully opposed substantial job cuts or pay freezes.
In 2018, state power utility Eskom, which can’t meet running costs without government bailouts, announced it wouldn’t offer pay rises. After protests and blackouts followed, the government’s intervention led to a 7% increase.
“Until we see the wolf with the prey in its jaws, we aren’t going to believe it. We have got to have a Thatcher moment and we may well have that in the next 48 hours,” said Andrew Levy, whose company advises on labour relations and monitors industrial action. “It’s a huge test for government and if they fudge it, it will show they don’t have the political will.”
— Antony Sguazzin
News & opinion
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No haters | Ethiopia’s cabinet approved a law to combat hate speech and false information after last month’s violence that killed 86 people. The proclamation aims to tackle the erosion of social cohesion, political stability and national unity, said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office.
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Past & prologue
Zambia’s kwacha slumped to the lowest level since May against the dollar as electricity shortages weighed on the economy. The country’s 2027 Eurobond yield climbed to the highest since August.
Lusaka stocks are the second-worst performing market in the world this year in dollar terms.
Nigeria, which has a worsening plastic bottle waste problem, much of it generated in its commercial capital of Lagos, is enlisting big beverage companies to help. Regulators, sustainability groups, and representatives of companies including Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo met in October to hash out a standard allowing drinks companies to package products in recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate). Boosting demand for rPET, which would likely be more expensive than virgin plastic, would encourage investment in recycling operations.
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