Trade Unions COSATU and SAFTU gear up for National Shutdown

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) are scheduled to hold a nationwide strike tomorrow (24 August 2022) in six provinces to “protect and advance the socio-economic interests of workers and the working class at large.”

Protests are anticipated in a number of provinces, including Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Free State, the Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape.

While other provinces have not yet reacted to the request for a stay away, general strike, or nationwide shutdown, including KwaZulu-Natal.The decision to go on a nationwide strike was unanimously made at the Saftu national executive committee (NEC) meeting last month, which led to the national strike.SAFTU has backed and committed to joining the strike, as have 200 working-class groupings, pro-worker NGOs, and political parties such as the EFF, Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, Azanian People’s Organization, Workers and Socialist Party, among others.

The walkout will focus on the sharp rises in the price of a typical basic food basket, energy prices, gasoline prices, transportation costs, interest rates, and debt obligations.

Details of the national protest were shared as follows:

Limpopo: Polokwane is the site of the march. At 8 am, a gathering will take place at Polokwane’s SABC Park, and at 10 am, a march to the Premier’s Office will begin.

Mpumalanga: Witbank is the location of the march. At 9 am, participants will gather at Broadway in Emalahleni, and at 10 am, the march to Eskom Park will begin.

Gauteng: Pretoria is the location of the march. Pretoria’s Burgers Park will serve as the meeting place for the march, which will begin at 10 am.

Free State: Bloemfontein is the location of the march. People will gather at Batho Location Hall in Mangaung at 7 a.m., and at 10 a.m., a march will begin at the Office of the Premier (OR Tambo Building).

Eastern Cape: Bisho is the location of the march. To begin the march to the Bisho Legislature at 10 am, participants must assemble at the Fort Hare Grounds at 8 am.

Western Cape: Cape Town is the location of the march. People will gather in Keizersgracht in Cape Town at 8 am, and beginning at 10 am, they will march to the Western Cape Legislature and Parliament, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, and the City of Cape Town.

“Small black businesses including the taxi associations and truck owners and drivers are all set to join the marches,” said Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

The strike will focus on enforcing the economic rights of employees and the rest of civil society, according to Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi, as trade unions prepare to shut down the nation on Wednesday. Part of this entails pressing businesses to make economic reinvestments while also applying pressure on the government to combat corruption.

She claimed that despite their partnership with the ANC, they continue to keep the ruling party accountable. “We are an independent organization whose constituency gives us our mandate. We stand up for workers who are citizens. We will always take to the streets to demand that the ANC administration answer to the people of South Africa, she declared.

Losi added that this did not diminish the accomplishments of the ANC government, which included establishing a minimum wage for farm and domestic workers. One of the demands made by the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu),  General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, is to raise the R350 payment for the unemployed to R1,500.

Some of the main demands include price reductions, the resignation of Eskom and ANC leaders, and land distribution. The National Day of Action march marks the beginning of the working class complete emancipation from oppression, inequality, and poverty says Vavi.

“We don’t only want to have a one-day strike,” He repeated the threats of a “civil war” made by Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF, and former president Thabo Mbeki in the event that South Africans’ living conditions did not change and their concerns were not addressed.

Sizwe Pamla, a spokesperson for Cosatu says the strike is protected by law and is intended to put pressure on both the public and commercial sectors to mend the economy.

“For this to change, decision-makers will have to first acknowledge that poverty is not accidental, but flows from the logic of the capitalist system. This capitalist system has been propped up by government policies for over a quarter of a century,” said Pamla.

The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), in the meantime, has ignored the nationwide protest and stated that its members will carry on with their regular business. “Santaco is not part of that shutdown. We distance ourselves from it,” Santaco’s Bongani Magagula said.

He claimed that while the national executive committee of the strike did not necessarily disagree with the motives for the action, they did not feel it was important for them to take part in it at this time.

More than 5,000 people are anticipated to attend the huge demonstration against the high cost of living, load shedding, and the high unemployment rate. The strike action has received the support of more than 200 civil organizations and political parties, including the EFF, the PAC, Azapo, and others. Workers are being urged by Saftu and Cosatu not to come to work on Wednesday as a form of protest. The Labour Relations Act’s section 77, which provides for no work, no pay, is what prompted the demand for the strike action.

The National Clothing Retail Federation of SA (NCRFSA) also stated that it anticipated that for its members, the day will be business as usual. According to executive director Michael Lawrence, businesses will have to decide how to handle worker absences or other disturbances in their specific operational environments.  Lawrence says it was impossible to predict if the strike would result in revenue losses.

Just one day before Stats SA releases its Quarterly Labour Force Survey, protests will take place. Vavi advised South Africans to prepare for an increase in the unemployment rate and added that women and young people should lead the national strike because they experience the worst marginalization.

The public’s opinions on social media sites are divided about the Federations’ request for a nationwide shutdown some are in favor of the trike and some are opposed.

ALSO READ:Business toolkit for township creative entrepreneurs

Leave a Comment