Another major strike planned for South Africa

 ·26 Aug 2020

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it will begin mobilising for major strike action in the first week of October.

The trade federation plans to go on a general strike on 7 October Reuters reports, with the protest focusing on corruption and perceived inaction by the government.

Cosatu’s general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said that the federation wants president Cyril Ramaphosa to speed up prosecutions of corrupt individuals.

“He (Ramaphosa) must stop negotiating with criminals and use the only language that they will understand which is prosecution and sentencing,” Ntshalintshali said.

Cosatu is the largest trade federation in the country with an estimated membership of 1.8 million workers.

Health workers strike

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has also pledged support to National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) which is also planning industrial action.

On Monday (24 August), the Labour Court ruled that the strike action at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) this week is unlawful and in breach of the relevant provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

The union had planned to go on strike on Tuesday, 25 August, over what it has termed as a breakdown in salary negotiations and provisioning of personal protective equipment amongst other issues.

Nehawu’s membership base exceeds 240,000 people, making it the largest public-sector union in the country.

The union has committed to a ‘day of mass action’ on 3 September, where memorandums will be handed over to senior government officials.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla has previously said that union has the federation’s blessings and support for its planned mass action next month. “We want public servants to go on a full-blown strike,” he said.

Pamla stated that the government is not acting as though there is a crisis in the country with public servants contracting and succumbing to the deadly coronavirus.

He warned that if the government does not meet Nehawu’s demands by 10 September, the union will completely withdraw its labour.

More to come

The issue of governmental wage increases is also likely to take centre stage in the coming months as restrictions around the coronavirus pandemic are eased.

Public wages are set through bargaining with unions and agreements stay in force for three years. The current agreement is in place until March 2021.

However, in February government asked to review the last leg of a three-year pay agreement because it said it couldn’t afford it.

The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the country’s financial problems with unions and government now set for a showdown.

National Treasury plans on cutting R160 billion from the public sector wage bill over the next three years – a position that has been met with opposition from public sector trade unions.

Read: South African Covid-19 relief payouts halted amid investigation

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