A major South African trade unions federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), on Thursday went on a nationwide strike for pushing both the government and the private sector to act on issues of economy and those affecting workers and South Africans in general.
Members of COSATU, which represents about 20 trade unions and more than 2 million people, took to the streets in over 28 cities and towns including the two biggest cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town, while holding banners and pieces of cardboard with their demands written on them.
COSATU president Zingiswa Losi led the morning march in Cape Town, which caused temporary traffic disruptions of major roads, where police were deployed with high alert.
“The living conditions of workers are very bad, they can’t even last for a whole month to wait for their salaries. So we are saying, the city must come to the party to look at the workers, because workers are the ones who make cities alive,” COSATU Western Cape provincial secretary Malvern De Bruyn told Xinhua before the march began.
The workers’ lives “are very very hard” and the impact of COVID-19 has been “very devastating for them,” said Sheila van Rensburg, Western Cape provincial secretary of Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU), an affiliate of COSATU, while her fellow protesters were shouting slogans.
She indicated that some workers in her union lost jobs after two big companies were liquidated due to the impact of COVID-19.
Supporters of the ruling party African National Congress (ANC), which is in tripartite alliance with COSATU and the South African Communist Party (SACP), also joined the march, waving the ANC flag.
The strike comes as National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) indefinitely downs tools for a wage increase after the negotiation with the employers broke down. Enditem