Many services unaffected by strike
Johannesburg - Health departments across the country were unaffected by Cosatu's nationwide strike and protest marches on Wednesday over toll fees and labour brokers, officials said.
"The reports we have received are that staff showed up for work across the province," KwaZulu-Natal health spokesperson Chris Maxon said.
Mpumalanga health spokesperson Dumisani Mlangeni said: "We have had some administrative staff not reporting for work but it is minimal and has no effect on our operations."
Democratic Alliance health spokesperson in Gauteng Jack Bloom said he had not had reports of any health facilities being affected.
Western Cape health department spokesperson Helen Rossouw said no reports of disruptions to services had been received.
National health department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said reports nationally indicated things were normal.
"Healthcare is an essential service and health care practitioners understand this. Things are running as usual and we have not heard any complaints," Hadebe said.
Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe said by early Wednesday afternoon the electricity utility had received no reports of being affected by the strike but would receive a full update later on Wednesday.
Mixed reports were coming from schools. In Limpopo, education spokesperson Pat Kgomo said most schools in the rural areas and townships had been affected by the strike.
In the Northern Cape schooling appeared to be mostly normal.
"Teachers and learners are at schools in most of the districts," the province's education spokesperson Ohentse Stander said.
Under 2% of teachers march in Western Cape
Western Cape education MEC Donald Grant said less than 2% of teachers participated in the strike and it seemed no pupils had marched.
The SABC reported that pupils from most schools in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu in Cape Town were told to go home by teachers, but in nearby Mitchells Plain schooling went ahead with teachers saying they would join protests later.
Mining company Gold Fields said about 85% of its workforce had not arrived for work on Wednesday.
"The majority, if not all our National Union of Mineworkers' members attended the strike, about 85 percent of our workforce," company spokesperson Sven Lunsche said.
However, most workers at Impala Platinum arrived for work. Implats spokesperson Johan Theron said this might be because the recent protracted stay-away over a bonus dispute at their Rustenburg operations left workers out of pocket and unable to afford another day off.
The SABC reported that traffic around South Africa's border with Zimbabwe was building up as customs and other border officials joined a protest in Musina, led by Cosatu's Limpopo provincial executive committee.
The Airports Company of SA earlier advised travellers at King Shaka International Airport in Durban of delays of around one-and-a-half hours as some staffers who refuelled aircraft had been unable to get to work.
Metrorail and Metrobus said there might be disruptions to their services. Interstate bus lines said it had been unable to operate on some shifts. Interstate asked employers to let staff planning to use this bus service in the evening leave early, to get an indication of numbers.
The SA Clothing and Textile Workers' Union claimed that 74% of all clothing, textile, footwear, and leather workers were participating in the protest.
Fedusa not opposed to job losses
Cosatu arranged the protest and strike over the planned introduction of toll fees on national roads in Gauteng, which would "milk" the public and leave the poor worse off. It also wanted labour brokers to be banned.
The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said it was opposed to tolls, but believed the matter should be settled within the labour market chamber at the National Economic Development and Labour Council.
Unlike Cosatu, Fedusa was not opposed to labour brokers, saying banning them would cause job losses.
Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said: "Tight-knit, well-constructed legislation will not only protect workers, but provide a clear line of legal recourse for those employers who fail to comply."
Members in unions affiliated to Cosatu were protected for Wednesday in terms of a notice issued to the unions in terms of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act. This was not the case for Fedusa members, who had been advised to take a day's leave if they wanted to participate.
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