Wide support for Cosatu strike

2012-03-07 16:43

Cosatu appeared to have mustered wide support today for its countrywide strike against toll fees and labour brokers.

Supermarket group Pick n Pay said over half of its staff did not report for work because of the strike.

Mining company Gold Fields said about 85% of its workforce did not arrive.

However, most workers at Impala Platinum (Implats) did pitch up. Implats spokesperson Johan Theron said this might be because the recent protracted stayaway over a bonus dispute at their Rustenburg operations had left workers out of pocket and unable to afford another day off.
The SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Unions (Sactwu) claimed that around 62% of all clothing, textile, footwear and leather workers – or 62 000 – around the country took part in the strike.

Between 100 000 and 250 000 people joined the Joburg march, according to Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi. Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema estimated the turnout at this march to have been more than 150 000, Loyiso Sidimba reports.

However, independent estimates put the number of marchers at around 80 000.

Concerns had been raised about the impact of the march on health and education, but health departments across the country said they were mostly unaffected.

There was a mixed response from the education sector, with most schools in the rural areas and townships of Limpopo affected. Schooling was mostly normal in the Northern Cape.

Western Cape education MEC Donald Grant said less than 2% of teachers had participated in the strike there and it seemed no pupils had marched.

In Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, in Cape Town, pupils were told to go home by their teachers, according to SABC news.

In the Free State’s five districts, only schools in Fezile Dabi, in the north, were affected, with 90% of the schools there closed.

In Gauteng, department spokesperson Charles Phahlane said schooling proceeded smoothly in 12 of 15 districts.

Delays were reported by the Airports Company SA at King Shaka International Airport in Durban while Metrorail, Metrobus and Interstate warned of possible service disruptions.

In Durban the crowd of around 20 000 marches began dispersing around 14:30pm after being addressed by Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini and Cosatu KwaZulu-Natal secretary Zet Luzipho.

The CDB had closed down completely as the march gained momentum, with supporters coming from not only the trade union federation at its affiliates, but also from youth and civic bodies from around the city and the SACP.

“This is not an event. This is a campaign. This is struggle. We will continue with our action until we secure an outcome which is in the interest of the working class,’’ Luzipho said.

In East London, Eastern Cape, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim addressed close to 5 000 workers who turned out for the march from North End stadium to labour offices downtown.

The march was one of six across the province attended by provincial and national federation bosses.

Addressing the workers, Jim said Cosatu was being disrespected by government for not turning its back on the e-tolls and labour brokers. The union, he said, would not stop its calls on the two issues.

“When it comes time to vote we will vote for the ANC, and that will never change. Through today’s march we want the ANC’s national executive committee to sit down, look internally, discuss, and move with speed to ban labour brokers.”

Approximately 2 000 people took part the march in Bloemfontein.

They marched peacefully through the city, from Batho location to the provincial government headquarters, the Lebohang building in the city.

One protester, Jeanette Sekola, said transport problems kept many protesters away. “The bus services transporting people daily from Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu to Bloemfontein sent out notices that no buses will be running today,” she said.

Thabong Kaduong, another protester, said he was “a little disappointed” that people did not turn up in numbers. He said many protestors were unhappy about service delivery by the provincial government in addition to their dissatisfaction with labour broking and e-tolling.

“It seems in the Free State that once a leader is in a certain position they only make sure that the town where they come from is serviced and they forget about the rest of the province.”

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