The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) has slammed government’s decision to suspend alcohol sales as a response to the growing number of COVID-19 infections.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that the sale of liquor would be halted “with immediate effect”.
In the wake of the ban, thousands of jobs are expected to be shed due to the significant economic knock the industry will likely suffer.
Numsa have chimed in on the conversation, accusing the government of being callous and heartless.
The union says government ignored healthcare workers’ calls for improved working conditions and has used alcohol as a scapegoat for the overwhelmed public health system.
“Alcohol is not to blame for shortages of hospital beds, government is,” Numsa said in a statement issued out on Wednesday.National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa
South Africa currently has close to 300 000 COVID-19 cases, with over 4 000 fatalities.
While the vast majority of those diagnosed with the virus have displayed mild symptoms, thousands have been hospitalised.
During his address, Ramaphosa said there was a shortage of 12 000 healthcare workers – including nurses and doctors.
The president also thanked those who have been on the frontline amid the coronavirus crisis.
However, Numsa has dismissed this tribute as “hollow”.
“It means nothing to thank workers for their sacrifices when they are fighting a war against the virus, and there are massive shortages in staff, protective gear, medication and facilities,” the union said.
“We are told because of alcohol. hospital beds are running out. This is not true. These shortages are a direct result of the failed macro-economic policies championed by the ANC government, despite dire warnings from us as Numsa, that these policies would fail dismally and result in increased suffering of the masses.”National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa
Coronavirus cases in South Africa are expected to hit the 300 000-mark on Wednesday night.