Nationwide strike hitting South Africa today – what you need to know

 ·6 Jul 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and its affiliated unions are engaging in a nationwide strike today, 6 July 2023.

The two million-member strong trade union will protest against socio-economic factors that negatively affect South African employees, including load shedding and high-interest rates.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (CEPPWAW) and the Agricultural Food And Allied Democratic Workers Union (AFADWU) have all pledged their support for the strike.

“We want the Provincial and National Governments to hear us loud and clear on these matters and regard this strike as a first warning of more mass action to follow, should our demands not be heeded,” COSATU said.

“This strike will communicate an unmistakable message to the political and business elite that the workers have had enough and are ready to defend their rights. We will continue to push back against the brutal exploitation that is directed at the working class.”

“All workers from all the sectors of the economy are legally protected to go on strike since Nedlac has issued COSATU with a strike certificate in terms of Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).”

COSATU said that it is protesting against the following issues:

  • Attacks on collective bargaining in all sectors
  • High-interest rates
  • The high unemployment rate
  • Crime and corruption
  • Energy and water crises
  • Gender-based Violence
  • The Municipal System Act

The federation said that it has offered a host of solutions to the government to help address the issues:

  • Raise the SRD Grant to the food poverty line in the October MTBPS.
  • Extend the Presidential Employment Stimulus to accommodate 1 million active participants in October 2023 and 2 million in February 2024.
  • Ensure the implementation of the two-pot pension reforms on 1 March 2024.
  • Unblock the delays in the rollout of the public infrastructure programmes.
  • Intervene in the 36 municipalities routinely failing to pay their employees.
  • Repeal the Municipal Systems Amendment Act clause banning all 350 000 municipal workers from holding office in a political party at any level.
  • Urgently intervene to rebuild and modernise Transnet and Metro Rail.
  • Urgently intervene to prevent the collapse and liquidation of the Post Office.
  • Allocate additional resources to ensure the SAPS, NPA, SIU, Hawks and judiciary are sufficiently resourced to win the war against crime and corruption.
  • Allocate further funds to SARS to tackle tax evasion and customs fraud.
  • Fill out all funded public service and sector vacancies by December 2023.

In Cape Town, the union’s members will be marching to the Provincial Legislature and National Parliament, where a memorandum will be handed to the representatives of these offices.

This memorandum asks for the speedy implementation of the Zondo Commission’s recommendations on state capture while also touching on the aforementioned points.

In Johannebsurg, the strike will start at COSATU HOUSE, with marches set to deliver memorandums to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Department of Employment and Labour and the Office of the Premier.

Moreover, the union said that it will deliver a memorandum of demands to Transnet and PRASA in protest of the privatisation of the rail sector.

Protesting yourself

However, ActionSA has criticised the protest, saying Cosatu is effectively protesting against itself as it is a member of the Tripartite Alliance, and its leaders sit in the South African Cabinet and Parliament.

“Cosatu is, to a large extent, responsible for the current state of the economy and the falling standards of living of workers because it repeatedly empowers the ANC to govern South Africa through its unholy alliance and by actively campaigning for the ANC in elections,” ActionSA said.

“How then can it march against the very ANC government it empowers and actively supports, with former and current Cosatu members such as Cyril Ramaphosa, Ebrahim Patel, Sdumo Dlamini and Thulas Nxesi all occupying key positions in government and Cabinet?”

“Our draconian labour laws need to be reformed to make it easier for South African businesses to expand employment opportunities and give more South Africans the opportunity to join the labour market.”

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