LifeStyle & Health

‘It’s not about the numbers’

Members of the country’s two largest unions have put their differences aside, saying it’s all systems go Wednesday’s national shutdown.

Trade union federation Cosatu and the South African Federation of Trade Unions ( Saftu) plan to bring the economy to a halt in a bid to get government to acknowledge the socio-economic crisis facing millions of South Africans.

It’s not about the numbers

Protests have been organised in various cities across the country’s nine provinces.

Saftu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi acknowledged that Wednesday’s national shutdown demonstrations might not draw numbers remotely close to the mass protests in 2018.

“We are not emphasising the numbers of people. In fact, we will not see anything close to what we saw in 2018 because there are no trains in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“Taxis can support us, but they only take a handful at a time. We are emphasising the need for workers to stay at home.”

No work, no pay: Govt

Employees who fall within the essential services sector have been prohibited from participating in Wednesday’s protests during working hours.

The government says it will implement a ‘no work, no pay’ policy on public servants participating in the national shutdown.

According to Cosatu, the strike has been called in terms of Section 77 Socio-Economic Protest Action, which means workers will be protected from joining the strike.

In terms of the law, no employer will intimidate or victimise any worker who wants to join the strike. 

But the Department of Public Service and Administration cautioned on Tuesday evening that while protest actions are protected by the Labour Relations Act, employees who fall within the essential services are prohibited from participating in these protests during working hours.

ALSO READ: National shutdown: Here’s what you need to know

Workers buying power declines

In a Twitter feed, Vavi said the financial distress households face is a powder keg as the buying power of workers’ wages continues to decline, and unemployment continues to rise.

“The living conditions of the working-class majority in this country have declined and continue to decline because we sit at the intersection of multiple crises created by capitalism and its leading servants in the government of the ANC.”

Vavi says the reason for growing disillusionment in the ANC and its capitalist allies simply is that the burden of this crisis is being carried by the working people, not the people who created it.

“The cost of a food basket has increased by 46,5% since December 2019, rising to R4 748 for a household of four.”

“Petrol prices reached unprecedented levels with a litre of 93 unleaded petrol costing R26,31 in July, and although the Brent Crude price is down 30% from $130/barrel to $91 barrel since May, the price only been marginally reduced to R24,99 or 66% higher than it was in March,” Vavi said.

Plan your routes:

The Gauteng leg of the demonstration is expected to start from Burgers Park in Pretoria and end at the Union Buildings.

Motorists have been urged to take necessary precautions and avoid areas where the march will be taking place.

See here for a National Shutdown interactive map

Additional reporting by  Vhahangwele Nemakonde

ALSO READ: National shutdown: Here are the routes and places to avoid

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