PRESS RELEASE: SAPTU wishes labour force well for 2021 and encourages them to remain positive under difficult working conditions

The South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union (SAPTU) encourages the South African labour force to remain positive under difficult working conditions and to continue applying their knowledge and experience to make a positive contribution to South Africa’s economy. SAPTU wishes the labour force all the best for 2021.
The Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) observed a 40% decline in active employment in South Africa in 2020 as part of their study: The labour market and poverty impact of COVID-19. Half of this comprises job terminations, suggesting persistent labour market effects. Initially vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected. Exploiting the dataset’s panel dimension and comparing lockdown incomes of job losers to re-weighted job retainers, SALDRU has estimated that 20-33% of job losers fall into poverty. Only 20% of those temporarily not working received the intended relief, while a third of job losers had no access to any major form of social protection.
“2020 was an extremely difficult year for all South Africans – both employed and unemployed,” says Adv Ben van der Walt, the general secretary of SAPTU. “SAPTU hopes that 2021 will bring economic stability, job security, more employment opportunities as well as a solution to the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
Adv van der Walt says: “SAPTU is hopeful about the successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations for all workers in South Africa. We are grateful for a vaccine and support South Africans getting vaccinated. However, we hope that the practical implementation of vaccinations will not fail.
According to Health minister Zweli Mkhize, South Africa is in advanced discussions to accelerate the availability of the vaccine to all South Africans to get 67% of the population vaccinated by the end of 2021 and ultimately reach herd immunity. About 10% of the population would be covered by the Covax programme, but he said bilateral negotiations were already being held with companies in the hope of securing some vaccines as early as February. He said the rollout of vaccines would be done in three phases:

  • phase 1 would focus on front-line health workers with a target population of 1.25 million;
  • phase 2 would include essential workers with a target population of 2.5 million, people older than 60 (5 million) and people older than 18 with co-morbidities (8 million);
  • phase 3 would target other people older than 18 with a target population of 22.5 million.

SAPTU has certain questions regarding the practical aspects of these vaccinations for example: How will it be implemented successfully, and will the entire population be able to get vaccinated within a certain time frame? Also, will the necessary funding be available to ensure that all South Africans are able to get vaccinated?”

The training and education sector has also been hit hard by the COVID-19 global pandemic. “SAPTU would like to congratulate the Stellenbosch University for lowering fee increases for tuition and accommodation for the new academic year – less than what government proposed,” says Adv van der Walt. This after Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande had proposed that tuition and accommodation should be 4.7% and 6.7% respectively. The University’s tuition fees will increase by 3.66% for undergraduate, postgraduate, and international students. Student accommodation fees will increase by 5.9%. “Education and training are of the utmost importance for South Africa. We salute those who are making an effort to support the learners and students of our country, especially during these difficult and uncertain times,” Adv van der Walt concludes.

Issued by:           SAPTU
Date:                    12 January 2021

Enquiries:            Adv Ben van der Walt, General Secretary SAPTU                                                             Email: