South Africa: The Walls Keep Closing in On SA's Construction Industry As It Records High Retrenchment Rates

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South Africa's building and construction sector is on its knees, compounded by a stagnant economy and low infrastructure spending by the government. This has resulted in major job losses, further swelling the ranks of the unemployed.

Based on the 2018/19 annual report of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the outlook is bleak for the building and construction industry as it continues to register major job losses and retrenchments. According to the report, the construction sector recorded 3,584 employees facing retrenchment -- the highest among all sectors -- adding more strain on South Africa's 29% unemployment rate.

The CCMA figure represents almost half of the 8,000 job losses that Group Five -- formerly one of the largest construction and civil engineering companies in the country -- predicted when it was suspended from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) after filing for bankruptcy.

The sector is heavily reliant on the government's infrastructure spending trends. The Building Construction and Allied Workers Union (BCAWU) says little can be done to mitigate the retrenchments especially because the entire industry is facing heightened uncertainty.

"Retrenchments in this industry have been happening for the past four years. Major construction companies which make up the top...

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