The National Consumer Rights Association joins all workers in both the private and public sectors, unionised and non-unionised, of whatever political affiliation, in celebrating the 2019 May Day. NACORA is a consumer’s organisation and consumers include workers as well. So, we are very much alive to the workers who are being exploited at work and also by businesses who are charging exorbitant prices for everything. So even as we join in solidarity, we are indeed saddened that workers, as employees and consumers, have nothing to celebrate as they are living way below the living wage and the little that they take home is being totally wiped out by the ever-rising cost of basic commodities. Besides, workers have not received any salary increment despite the fact that prices of basic commodities like mealie-meal, cooking oil, bread, sugar, washing powder, laundry bar, meat and vegetables, among others have risen by 200% – 400 % since October last year. We are also alive to the fact that unemployment remains unacceptably too high such that millions are without income. This state of affairs needs urgent attention.
Government has been slow in reviving the economy, creating conditions conducive for the creation of better paying jobs, and eradication corruption and distortions. Industry remains very weak and unable to quickly absorb millions of job seekers. The export industry is not generation enough foreign currency earnings to help stabilize the economy. Policy confusion and uncertainty still characterise critical government decision making resulting fertile conditions for destructive speculative investments and pricing. Anti-competition price fixing cartels are flourishing across all sectors and corruptly embedded in the supply chain. This combination is driving the cost of living way beyond the reach of the overwhelming majority of all consumers.
Employers continue to seriously underpay workers in a way that sometimes constitute paid slavery. Salaries have not kept pace with the rising cost of living in years. In fact, in most instances salaries have declined by as much as 600% in real terms over the past several years. We therefore:
Call upon workers to unite across the board and press for better working conditions, better salaries, affordable basic commodities and services, and the eradication of poverty.
Call upon all employers to improve the working conditions of workers and pay them salaries that take into account the cost of living and invest in more jobs for the unemployed.
Call upon government to take urgent and robust steps to stem the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, stabilise inflation, iron out policy inconsistences, ensure ease of doing business, sort out foreign currency shortages, unlock the capacities and potential of small businesses and create conditions for employment creation and economic growth.
Call upon businesses to dismantle price-fixing cartels and end speculative and corrupt pricing of basic commodities and come up with business models that do not rely on unmitigated and continuous price hikes. It is an unacceptable business practice to link your pricing to the daily changes of the exchange rate and stock market as is happening now.
Call upon all leaders, across the board, to immediately work towards an all-stakeholders national convergence and democratic consensus dialogue on policy issues and pathways.
Let all be warned of the inevitable crippling mass unrest unless the current situation of unabated and arbitrary high cost of basic commodities and services like education and telecommunications is quickly brought under control. The pain on consumers is now way too much to bear.
Source: National Consumer Rights Association (NACORA)