Business Day Spotlight
PODCAST | Economic news of the week: lives vs livelihoods
Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Prof Carin Runciman and Lynford Dor from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to talk about the results of their new study looking at how employers in SA have responded to the Covid-19 crisis.
The report called “Profit or workers lives? Employer responses to the Covid-19 pandemic” was conducted by the Centre for Social Change at UJ and the Casual Workers Advice Office (CWAO), a registered non-profit organisation based in Germiston.
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The report provides an insight into the response of employers following the lockdown that was instituted in terms of the Disaster Management Act. It is intended to provide a snapshot of employer responses and to highlight the significant gaps in protection for workers during this period.
Runciman says they were able to conduct the research within a short space of time by leveraging their relationship with CWAO and its affiliate companies. Names of organisations have not been revealed to protect workers in those businesses, she says.
As part of the key findings, Dor says companies that are still operating are largely failing to provide basic or adequate health and safety provisions. Out of 35 companies that are still operating, 30 had not provided personal protective equipment, 29 had not undertaken measures to ensure social distancing in the workplace, 28 had not provided transport to workers and 22 had not provided hand sanitiser.
The discussion also looks at reasons and explanations for some of the findings and recommendations provided by the research.
As to whether the economy can reopen on or after April 16 as originally intended, Runciman says this is not an easy decision to make. One has to consider the economic burden that many South Africans face given the slowdown in business activity vs the need to ensure the health and safety of the population.
Dor agrees that the decision is not an easy one to make but what needs to be done is to ramp up production of basic and essential goods to make sure people have access to food and medical supplies during this time.
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