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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU statement on the adoption of the Sugar Tax

11 December 2017

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted Parliament’s adoption of government’s sugar sweetened beverages tax (Health Promotion Levy).We agree with government that South Africans have dangerously unhealthy diets and lifestyles. An increasing over consumption of sugar has massive health consequences ,including the rise in diabetes, obesity, cancer ,etc.

COSATU is however equally concerned that the tax may result in further job losses and a decline in investments in an already battered economy ,where workers are being retrenched in their thousands across all sectors.

We are also concerned that this tax is being introduced in a sector that has already seen thousands of workers retrenched on sugar farms and mills over the past 15 years due to a flood of cheap subsidized imports from Brazil and other countries. This also takes place against the backdrop of no meaningful plan, effort or successes by government to create decent permanent jobs for the 36% of unemployed workers.

COSATU hopes that our negotiations with government and industry at Nedlac and Parliament on a jobs plan for the sector will bear fruit. This plan to create jobs includes:

• Measures to raise import tariffs;
• Ensure that both the public and the private sectors and society buy locally produced sugar;
• Promote exports to neighbouring African states;
• Promote healthier products;
• Educate society and the youth in particular about the need for healthy diets and lifestyles;
• Localise the beverage production streams;
• Assist small emerging sugar farmers to reduce costs and grow; and • Promote bio-fuels and electricity cogeneration as a long term sustainable market for the sector.

We remain determined to make this jobs plan a success. However if it encounters any obstacles, delays from government or industry, we will not hesitate to mobilise workers against these and in particular at Parliament and Nedlac.

For further information contact: Matthew Parks ,COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687
Email: matthew@cosatu.org.za