Make e-tolling unworkable: Cosatu

2012-04-26 16:30

E-toll supporter disrupts protest

2012-04-26 12:10

A lone ranger who is apparently in favour of Gauteng's e-toll project had to be rescued by police during an anti-toll protest in Pretoria. Watch the video to see what happened. WATCH

Johannesburg – Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi urged all members of the public not to buy e-tags in order to make the whole system unworkable.

Cosatu has postponed its general strike against e-tolling, pending the outcome of a court action and its meeting with the ruling party on the matter.

Other mass action planned for April 30, including a highway blockade in Johannesburg, would however go ahead, Vavi told reporters in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The delay in the strike was to give the union federation time to assess the success of resistance to e-tolling, "and any future legal action that Cosatu or others may take".

The strike was initially planned for Monday when e-tolling on Gauteng's freeways was scheduled to start.

A civil society coalition, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, had launched a court action to prevent the SA National Roads Agency Ltd from introducing tolling as planned.

Vavi told reporters after a special meeting of Cosatu's executive that the blockade of four tollgates in Middelburg and Nkomazi in Mpumulanga would form part of the April 30 mass action.

Make it unworkable

In North West, a demonstration was being planned at the Swartruggens plaza.

On May 1, in Cape Town, a march would take place from the Good Hope Centre to the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

Cosatu and the African National Congress would meet later on Thursday to discuss the tolls. Vavi said Cosatu's executive was opposed to the "commodification" of South Africa's public road network.

"This will represent a huge additional burden on all motorists, but particularly on workers, who have no choice but to use their cars to get to and from work because of the lack of a reliable and safe public transport system."

He said Cosatu's entire central executive committee was united against e-tolling.

"I am urging all members of the public not to buy e-tags. Make the whole system unworkable."

Vavi said Sanral had no way of enforcing the e-toll system.

The right to strike

"They will not be able to stop our cars. They are not police officers... This whole thing is a mess."

Cosatu's leadership also reiterated support for the demand that labour broking be banned. Amendments to labour legislation would allow this "super exploitation" of workers to continue for six months, but this was six months too long, Vavi said.

The movement would be "engaging vigorously" to defeat other labour law amendments, which Vavi described as the greatest threat to the right to strike since apartheid.

"We fought hard to win the right to strike to be included in the Constitution of our new democratic country... and we will not surrender this victory."

Should the amendments be passed, union members would have to vote in favour of a strike before it could go ahead. He rejected attempts to outlaw sympathy strikes. The government was also considering a proposal that all state employees be labelled essential service workers, which would prevent them from striking.

Toothless dogs

"If passed, this would reduce our public service unions to toothless dogs, able to bark, but never to bite," he said.

The excuse for these measures was apparently violence during strikes. But the majority of Cosatu's strikes were peaceful ones, and it would not be fair to hold unions responsible for illegal action by individuals near union activity, he claimed.

Referring to the teachers' strike in the Eastern Cape at the beginning of the year, despite abysmal matric results, Vavi said teachers had committed to the government's basic education plans. T

hey had also undertaken to work extra hours. Banning every other teacher from ever striking, because of one incident, would be wrong, he said.

In addition, by weakening the power of labour unions, the government ran the risk of encouraging unprotected strikes. These were associated with greater violence, said Vavi.

Cosatu's leadership condemned the leaking of its internal discussion papers to the media, blaming it on factions in its ranks. This process caused immeasurable damage to Cosatu's internal unity and its relationship with allies, although Cosatu had not entertained leadership debates.

"It is not true that its president is pro the second term and general secretary is anti second term for this and that leader," he said.


Read more on:    cosatu  |  outa  |  sanral  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  transport  |  tolls

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