Major strike planned for South Africa

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

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

In a statement, the federations’ Gauteng division called on all workers to participate in the action in response to a breakdown in government worker wage negotiations.

“The refusal to honour the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018 is a direct attack on workers. What is unacceptable is that this is done to appease the markets and rating agencies at the expense of workers,” Cosatu’s Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) said.

“The PEC regards this as a blatant betrayal of workers by the ANC led government. We are encouraging all the workers and people of Gauteng to support the Cosatu National strike on the 7 October 2020. This is a time to stand up and fight against corruption. Failure is not an option.”

While the strike action will primarily focus on the wage dispute, Cosatu’s general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said that the federation also 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.

Health workers 

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

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

President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to meet with Nehawu on Friday (25 September) after the union submitted a memorandum to the presidency in which it outlined its demands.

The memorandum relates to, among other issues, improving occupational health and safety uniformly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as remuneration matters.

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: Taxpayers should foot the bill for a R1,500 basic income grant in South Africa: unions

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Major strike planned for South Africa