Cosatu. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called for the government to maintain high levels of spending on infrastructure to get the economy growing again.

In a statement on budget speech expectations released on Monday‚ the union federation warned that "massive levels of unemployment‚ poverty and inequality are a ticking time bomb waiting to explode and are the result of lack economic transformation".

"Government has done admirable work in investing in public infrastructure. The departments of trade and industry and economic development has made some critical interventions in some key economic sectors to protect local industries and help the process of job creation‚ " the trade union federation said.

"With low economic growth‚ the private sector investment strike and high unemployment; government needs to increase its economic stimulus and infrastructure investments. To reduce them will further weaken economic growth."

Cosatu also called for support for the agricultural sector‚ "a key source of job creation and a strategic economic sector. More funds need to be allocated to overcome the effects of the drought and to support land restitution‚ land equity and reform for farm workers and emerging farmers."

Cosatu was pleased that the government had acceded to worker’s demands by scrapping recent plans to amend pension laws.

The federation called for free higher education for poor and middle class students‚ and for Treasury not to hike taxes on lower and middle income earners.

It also called on government to stop Eskom from raising its tariffs; solve the water crisis; scrap e-tolls; abandon privatisation plans; fight corruption and increase the quality of services for informal settlements.

TMG Digital