Unions calls on millions of workers to stay at home or join strike action in South Africa

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it is finalising and intensifying its national mobilisation efforts in the build-up to its national strike set to take place on Thursday (7 October).

“The federation is issuing a call to all workers and South Africans to join the strike on Thursday. They can either join the planned activities across the country or withdraw their labour by staying at home on the day,” it said in a statement on Tuesday (5 October).

The trade federation, which represents 1.8 million workers in South Africa, said that the strike on Thursday is legally protected and is focused on pushing both government and the private sector to act to fix the economic mess that the country finds itself in, and take seriously the issues that are affecting workers and South Africans in general, Cosatu said.

“We remind workers that this strike is taking place under Covid-19 restrictions, and we urge all our members and the broader society to continue to take precautions. We encourage them to vaccinate because this pandemic can only be defeated through unity and cooperation.”

Cosatu said it will demand urgent action from policymakers in the government and decision-makers in the private sector to stop attacks that are directed at workers. “Both the public and the private sector have been blatantly undermining collective bargaining,” the union said.

Some of the other demands include:

  • The reversal of budget cuts that have led to an unacceptable wage freeze in the public service, the disintegration of the CCMA, and retrenchments in state-owned companies.
  • Calling on the private sector to abandon its investment strike that has seen many companies either hoarding or exporting cash out of the country, despite receiving generous incentives to invest back into the economy.
  • The abandonment of austerity measures and budget cuts in the 2022 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) to be presented in November.

Workers reject the current arrangement of a corporate welfare state that continues to take resources from the poor to support corporations without any set conditions, Cosatu said. Tax breaks and other generous incentives are given to the private sector without the private sector delivering anything in return, it added.

“Workers need to unite and take the lead in the fight against this looming collapse and push back against private-sector greed and the mismanagement of the country by the government,” the group’s statement said.

“We are fully behind the unity shown by the unions in the mining sector, (the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), Solidarity and UASA) who are cooperating in negotiating with Sibanye. We encourage them to protect their unity and fight without any fear or favour.

“We also offer our support and solidarity to the workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) in the metals and engineering sector who are fighting for an 8% wage increase.”


Read: 300,000 workers expected to take part in national strike in South Africa

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Unions calls on millions of workers to stay at home or join strike action in South Africa