JOHANNESBURG– The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), the country’s second biggest labour grouping, will embark on a national strike Wednesday in protest against the proposed national minimum wage of 20 Rand (about 1.62 US dollars) an hour and proposed changes to labour laws.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the biggest single union in the country with more than 300,000 members, has called on its members to support the Saftu action.
Saftu president Mack Chabalala reiterated Tuesday that members from several other unions are prepared to join Wednesday’s strike. The federation says it plans to bring the economy to a standstill over its objections to the proposed legislation that it says will make it harder for workers to go on strike.
Rival labour federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has slammed the Saftu strike. Chabalala says Saftu is also against the recent one percentage point increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) and has invited Cosatu to join the labour action.
We are not in competition with anyone including Cosatu. We have written to Cosatu to join tomorrow’s (Wednesday) strike. It is about workers. It is only the leaders who are saying workers should not go (on strike). We are receiving a lot of calls of affiliates from Cosatu who are going to the streets tomorrow (Wednesday). We have a right to be in Nedlac (the National Economic Development and Labour Council, a tripartite platform of government, organized labour, represented by Cosatu, and employers). What is happening in Nedlac is that there are deals there that are being struck behind workers without consultation and this is one of those deals that have been struck. So this is what workers are rejecting.
Cosatu is the country’s biggest labour federation and is a partner of the ruling African national Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Tripartite Alliance, which was formed during the struggle to end apartheid in the country.
Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim has lashed out companies threatening their workers not to strike. Numsa says the minimum wage is a shame and a continuation of racism. The union says it is reinforcing Saftu’s call for a total shutdown of the economy. The union is calling on all its members to join the strike regardless of the federation they belong to.
Saftu is holding four marches in Eastern Cape Province as part of the national strike against the proposed minimum wage, new labour laws and VAT. The marches are to take place in Port Elizabeth, East London, Mthatha and Queenstown.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK