KZN strike on price hikes tomorrow

2008-07-07 00:00

A shutdown of economic activity is expected in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape tomorrow.

The day marks the commencement of the first leg of Cosatu nationwide stayaway to protest the escalating food, electricity and fuel prices.

Similar protests will be held in other provinces in the next two weeks, culminating in a national mass action scheduled for August 6.

Cosatu provincial secretary Zet Luzipho warned that even essential services could be affected.

“While we respect the issue of essential services, we cannot be held responsible if those are affected,” he said.

He said essential services could be affected due to the foreseen lack of public transport in major towns and cities around the province as taxi operators are also expected to stop work.

“We have been talking to the major taxi bodies in the province and they have pledged their support. It will therefore be the duty of employers in essential services to ensure that workers are transported to their workplaces.”

However, Eugene Hadebe, the chairman of the KZN Transport Alliance, issued a stern warning to other motorists and employers who intend to transport stranded commuters to their workplaces.

“Those who do not oblige [by heeding the stayaway] will see their cars go up in smoke,” Hadebe said.

Provincial police spokesman, Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu said police are taking the threats seriously, but added that they are “more than prepared” to deal with the situation.

Another association of taxi operators, the KZN Taxi Council (Kwanataco), said that its members will be operating.

“My understanding is that we will be part of the march, but not of the stayaway. How are people going to be transported to the planned march if we say there will be no transport?” said Bhungane Hadebe, the acting chairman of Kwanataco.

Andrew Layman, the chief executive of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), said that the strike could prove to be “most disruptive” should the taxi operators also heed the call for a stayaway call.

“I think that there is not much that employers can do to soften the impact of the strike, although I know that some have entered into agreements with employees so that their business’s productivity is not severely affected,” he said.

In KZN, the Durban march is from Curries Fountain to the Durban City Hall, starting at 11 am, and the other march will be in Newcastle, from Pioneer Park to Newcastle High School.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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