Thousands march in Cape Town
Lauren Hess, News24
Cape Town - Thousands of SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) members marched through the streets of Cape Town’s CBD on Wednesday to demand higher wages.
The march was in a completely different in tone to Monday and Tuesday’s strike by SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members which saw looting and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille threatening to sue the union for damages to property in the city.
Braving a heavy police contingent and unseasonal heat, the strikers - from the cleaning sector - marched from the Castle of Good Hope to Parliament. They held hands and sang.
At the front of the group was a line of riot police, one of whom admitted to suffering in the hot sun under the heavy padded gear he was wearing.
Onlookers stood on balconies, pavements and in coffee shops taking pictures of the event.
When the striking workers made it to Parliament, they were met with more riot police.
After a few speeches by SACP, Satawu and Cosatu members, the department of labour’s deputy director general Les Kettledas came out from Parliament to accept the union’s memorandum.
Workers want a basic salary of R4 200 a month, and a 10% increase for those earning above R4 200. In addition, they wanted a yearly 13th cheque, an eight-hour working day, and for members in rural areas to be paid the same as their urban colleagues.
Meanwhile, the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) in the Western Cape promised that it would not allow the “looting or rioting” that occurred during the Samwu strike on Tuesday.
Imatu’s Etienne Bruwer told News24 that its 70 000 members would not begin marching on Wednesday and can only officially start from Friday.
He said that it has about 3 000 - 5 000 members in the Western Cape.
Meanwhile, Mario Jacobs from Samwu said that the union will be continuing its strike for another day. About 4 000 - 5 000 Samwu members in the Western Cape are striking for higher wages.
He said that a few depots are not running and that strikes will be staged at various civic centres around the Cape Town metropole, including Cape Town, Bellville, Plumstead, Khayelitsha and Strand.
Samwu is demanding an 18% pay increase. The SA Local Government Association is offering 6%.
Jacobs also said that it had not yet received any written notification from De Lille about the City of Cape Town suing Samwu for damages.