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South Africa Trade Unions Concerned Impact Drought Will Have On Economy And Jobs

South Africa Trade Unions Noted Concerns Impact Of The Ongoing Drought Will Have On The Economy And Jobs – The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted the concerning reports ,about dwindling water supplies across the country because of the ongoing drought in the country. We find it exceedingly disconcerting that these water shortages are already affecting community facilities, like hospitals, clinics and schools.

Health facilities and schools should be given a priority status, when it comes to water allocation because they deal with a high concentration of people at any given time. Compromised sanitation in both health and education centres can result in the outbreak of diseases. The overall health and safety for both workers and patients will be compromised if the toilets are not working and there is no reliable water supply to help with the process of cleaning and cooking in health facilities.

The federation is also concerned about the economic impact this ongoing water shortage and drought will have on our already limping economy. We call on our government, especially municipalities to take drastic steps to help working class communities, especially rural communities with alternative water supplies.

Municipalities working with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Water and Sanitation should consider increasing groundwater pumping ,to help both rural and township communities. They should also invest in water recycling systems that will help the people to save water.

Government should also give conditional assistance to commercial farmers, who should be made to commit that they will not retrench workers. The economy cannot afford to shed more jobs in the agricultural sector ,to add to the ongoing job losses. South Africans also cannot afford the likely increases in food prices as a result of big agricultural production declines.

The federation also demands that government should give assistance to millions of rural people, who earn their living through subsistence farming. There should be an extensive well-pumping programme, in the rural areas to deal with this emerging crisis. The livelihoods of rural communities will be severely affected by these ongoing water shortages.
COSATU demands that all big companies that make use of high volumes of water, in their production processes ,should contribute resources and expertise in helping the country deal with the current water shortages. They should also introduce and invest in innovative water saving mechanisms to ensure that there is no water wastage.

Urban municipalities should also introduce tighter water regulations, especially in suburban areas because; they are the ones with high water usage and wastage. People should not be allowed to fill their swimming pools and water their lawns, while many township and rural communities do not have water.

In addition, the federation calls on all South Africans to play their role in helping the country to save water. People should use water wisely and report broken pipes to the relevant authorities.
These ongoing water shortages are also an opportunity for the country to open the debate about climate change. We should all consider the implications it has on the destruction of not only of livelihoods and incomes, but of security, food, jobs, education, health etc. It has the potential to reverse nearly all of our previous gains.

The climate change negotiations at the COP-21 in Paris in December should be made to look at the ecological destruction that the capitalist system has visited upon our world.

COSATU therefore feels that it is essential for the trade union movement to develop specific positions, in consideration of all issues raised in the debate ,and to play a role in outlining our future position on environmental issues. We shall tackle this issue in our upcoming 12th National Congress in few weeks time.

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