Cosatu strike won’t affect Eskom

2012-03-06 13:08

Services at power utility Eskom will not be disrupted tomorrow as a result of the nationwide strike planned by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu).

“The section of the Labour Relations Act that allows for this (industrial action) is only for workers not involved in essential services,” spokesperson Hilary Joffe said today.

Joffe said while it was expected that Eskom employees would not down tools, the situation would be monitored. “Any stay-away or strike action would be unprotected.”

Cosatu has said it expects at least 100 000 people to take part in 32 marches across the nation in protest against the e-tolling system and labour brokers.

The union federation has also said it expects its provincial bodies, essential service workers, Eskom workers, teachers, pupils and other unions to join the strike.

Western Cape Education MEC Donald Grant has called on pupils and teachers to distance themselves from the strike.

“Let me be clear. Learners are not allowed to participate in the one-day protest and should not be encouraged to do so. For organisations to issue this call is simply irresponsible and shows callous disregard for the future of our young people,” he said in a statement.

“Equally, our educators should not limit the chances of these young people gaining the education and skills they need to improve their lives and build our economy.”

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has warned the march could damage the nation’s economy.

The extent would depend on the scale of the protest activity and its duration, ranging from depriving the economy of labour to affecting economic infrastructure.

“On a global scale, South Africa has one of the highest levels of protest action and is on the watch lists of ratings agencies for a sovereign downgrade. Sacci warns that extensive mass action as planned by Cosatu could trigger a downgrade.”

Meanwhile, Cosatu’s planned march has been welcomed by other sectors. “Solidarity has called on all South Africans to voice their protest against e-tolling tomorrow (Wednesday).

“The protest against e-tolling could be an opportunity for South Africans to unite to everyone’s benefit,” the union’s general secretary Dirk Hermann said.

The ANC Youth League, the Young Communist League of South Africa and the Christian Democratic Party had also backed the strike.

“The poverty trap remains firm while this devious establishment (of labour broking) exists and defies the progress we have made on the labour law regime and the general conception of decent work in South Africa,” the young communists said.

The youth league said: “Members and supporters (of the league) in all regions and provinces should join the strike and mass action against the e-tolling system and call for banning of labour brokers. No retreat. No surrender.”

The Christian Democratic Party called on other organisations to participate, but cautioned against violence.

The Public Servants Association and the Food and Allied Workers’ Union have also thrown their weight behind the strike.

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