Police ready as support for mass action swells

2012-03-06 22:58

Cape Town - With support growing, the Congress of South African trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday that it expects up to 100 000 people to take part in country-wide protests against e-tolling and labour broking.

The mass action includes 34 marches around the country, and police say they are prepared for any eventuality.

Various other unions, civil society organisations and political parties have thrown their weight behind Cosatu, thereby swelling the numbers even more.

In Cape Town, a planned march on Parliament across the city centre would likely attract 30 000 people, according to Cosatu Western Cape general secretary Tony Ehrenreich.

About 20 000 of these would be Cosatu members. A further 10 000 from civil society organisations and unions would also join in.

"It will be one of the biggest strikes that has happened in the Western Cape for a long, long time," he said.

Western Cape police's Captain Frederick van Wyk told News24 that there will be "sufficient police to combat crime".

Strikers will gather at the Keizersgracht from 10:00. At 11:00 they will proceed down Darling Street, stopping at City Hall to hand over a memorandum to Transnet and the Cape Chamber of Business, the City said in a statement.

The group will continue down Darling Street, turn left into Adderley Street, left into Spin Street, then into Plein Street and to Parliament, where they will hand over a memorandum to the labour minister

Temporary road closures will be put in place to accommodate the strikers' route.

In Gauteng the march will start at Library Gardens in the Johannesburg CBD and proceed to the premier's office and the Chamber of Mines before ending at the department of transport and roads.

Marchers are expected to gather at Beyers Naudé Square in the city centre at 09:00, from where they will march along routes leading in and out of Johannesburg’s Park Station, and Farady and Westgate railway stations.

Motorists using De Villiers, Harrison, Jeppe, and Simmonds streets will be affected.

The march will be monitored by the police’s crowd control unit, and more focus will be placed on train stations and private vehicle routes leading to the city centre, Sapa reported.

Elsewhere, in Limpopo, police said they were ready to ensure marches in the province were conducted peacefully.

Lieutenant Colonel Mohale Ramatseba said police helicopters, dog units, public order police and crime prevention teams would be deployed in Polokwane and throughout the province.

The police would work with march organisers to ensure the protest went off without incident.

Limited transport disruptions

Public transport services are expected to be relatively unaffected by the strike and marches.

"Metrorail has restructured the train service in such a way that only the off peak service will be affected because of the long waiting service intervals," the Passenger Rail Agency of SA spokesperson Tony Games said in a statement.

Provincial manager Tembela Kulu said contingency plans were in place to limit service disruptions, and all staff were expected to report for work

"We appeal to our commuters for their patience during this time and we will keep them informed of the developments throughout the day," said Kulu.

The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) said taxi services would run as normal because it had decided not to participate in the strike.

"Santaco Gauteng... held a meeting yesterday [on Monday] where the planned e-toll strike matter was raised [and we] agreed there was no basis for the taxi industry to form part of the strike," said deputy chairperson Bafana Magagula.

Chance to unite

Meanwhile, Trade union Solidarity appealed to those who were unable to take part in the planned marches to protest against e-tolling in other ways.

As it was not part of Cosatu's protest application at Nedlac, its members will not be able to participate in a protected strike.

"The protest against e-tolling could be an opportunity for South Africans to unite to everyone's benefit", the union said in a statement.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann encouraged motorists to hoot every time they drove through a highway tollgate between Wednesday and Friday.

He said the public could also demonstrate dissatisfaction by adding #toet before protest messages on social media.

Hermann asked people to SMS the word "toot" to 34388 to make donations to a planned legal challenge against e-tolling by AfriForum.

Solidarity maintained though that it "does not support the strike with reference to the issue of labour brokers".

"The issues of e-tolling and labour brokers must be kept separate," it said.

Democratic Alliance Leader Helen Zille said her party also did not support Cosatu's call to ban labour brokers, and as for e-tolling, the matter would be challenged in court.

Cosatu had earlier retracted its invitation to the DA to participate in Wednesday's marches.

The union's spokesperson said members of all parties were welcome to join, but "we never invited any party leaders".

Zille also said her party was opposed to the impact the protest could have on schooling, which seemed to be in conflict with Cosatu.

Teachers are workers too

On Monday, the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas) said teachers should not let the national strike action interfere with children’s education

"Children should not become the victims of adults' problems," said Fedsas deputy CEO Jaco Deacon.

Teachers and parents should see to it that their involvement in the Cosatu protest action did not interfere with children’s education.

The school governing body called on all teachers to fulfill their professional obligation to school children.

Despite this, Cosatu expected teachers to join the protest.

At a briefing on Sunday, Ehrenreich told journalists "there won't be a lot of education happening on the day of the strike".

This sentiment was echoed by the organisation's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi

"Teachers are workers too and they have the same rights as all other workers."

He said plans would have to be put in place to make up for the learning hours which would be lost on Wednesday.

Epic failure

Vavi, who is the main speaker at the Johannesburg march, said on Tuesday that if the mass action failed to have the desired effect on the tolling situation, the organisation has more "creative ways" to make the system an epic failure.

He told reporters in Pretoria if government went ahead with e-tolling on Gauteng freeways after Wednesday's strike, Cosatu would organise more strikes.

"Particularly on April 28... we are more likely to think about lots of creative ways which we have talked about which will make that whole [e-tolling] system unworkable... completely unworkable."

He said government would have to choose between the economy losing billions in the e-tolling battle or choose to negotiate with the organisation instead.

"Government has R300bn, it can't tell us that it can't get just R20bn from that R300bn to pay for public roads," he said.

Vavi said Wednesday's strike action is a sign that Cosatu is still willing to negotiate with government regarding the two issues.

"We are going to be listening very carefully in terms of what government is going to be saying... we are forcing government back to the negotiating table we are saying we remain open to talks, even at this moment," he said.

Everybody and all organisations are welcome to participate in the strike except for those working in essential services.

This included suspended ANCYL president Julius Malema, who according to Vavi was in solidarity with the action and would march with protesters.

Vavi said Cosatu respected the ANC disciplinary committee's decision to expel Malema, but the firebrand leader was still the league's representative as he was appealing his expulsion from the party.

He did, however, say that Malema's plans to take part in the protest put Cosatu in a "tight corner".

  • kgomotso.radise - 2012-03-06 23:09

    COSATU voice has being whisperings in deaf ears regarding e-toll & labour broker come tomorrow’s strike with your solidarity & loud healing their voice will be heard.

      Francois - 2012-03-06 23:17

      See what happened to your education when the teachers went on strike, Kgomotso! You also had a right to a decent education, like all the others. Now fortunately Ehrenreich has shown his hand! He doen not give two ticks about having qualified people that are employable as long as he represents the workers and in SA those are the rich people. Tony I will print and distribute this. Kgomotso, go learn proper English so that you can better your chances of getting up on the corporate ladder.

      Sganja - 2012-03-07 00:32

      I will be there,I can't wait.

      Kim - 2012-03-07 05:51

      @Leonard, You think Cosatu is bad, worse is ANCYL. The municipal workers are going to hate this march.

      Sganja - 2012-03-07 06:19

      Good bye labour brokers we have suffered enough.

      Kim - 2012-03-07 06:31

      @Leonard, Are you aware that the ANCYL are joining Cosatu in the march? Just asking

      Martin - 2012-03-07 09:58

      @Sganja: My dear friend. Please explain to me how you want the labour market to work if we will not be allowed to outsource the administration of temporary staff for ad hoc projects?

  • Sharon - 2012-03-06 23:15

    Please tell me more about the "creative ways" - I am dying of curiosity!

      Fortune Makoni - 2012-03-07 04:43

      'students have rights too'...yes they do! but who pays their fees? who drives them off to school? it is the same parents whom we are taxing heavily for using the roads! nobody is exempted here! solidarity forever!

  • Multi - 2012-03-06 23:18

    Banning labour brokers will be counter productive and render too many people jobless. Rather improve payment and benefits for the workers who have no choice but to go to a labour broker to get some money to feed their families.

      Derek - 2012-03-06 23:50

      Watcher I have no opinion at the moment as I have no knowledge at all of the workings of labour brokers. Please can you educate me what labour brokers do and how they are an advantage to the workers and how it would render too many people jobless.(other than the labour brokers)

      Boer - 2012-03-07 07:06

      Labour brokers are used to supply amongst other 'temp' type labour to business. If business is not satisfied with your labour the broker needs to replace you with someone that can deliver. The contract is between the broker and business. This is what the union don't like. They(union) want business to hire someone, when that person is incompetant, business can't get rid of them again without paying huge sums of money. A good example: Eskom has an outage on a unit at Duvha. Eskom wants the job done. They need 20 boilermakers, 50 labourers and 5 cleaners. The broker will supply the 75 people with the necessary skills. Eskom don't negotiate with 75 people, they only negotiate with the broker. The broker need to make sure that the people are on site, in time and perform what needs to happen. Once the job is done, the labourers are not under contract with the broker anymore. In essense brokers supply labour/people to business if and when it is required. They take away the pain that Eskom(in this case) will have to negotiate with 75 people to do a job. If you do this type of contract work(you get paid a little bit more that a permanent employee, but there are no benifits) don't blame the broker if you don't look after yourself by not contributing to your own pension fund or medical aid. The upside of this is that if you do your job properly there will always be a broker that is after your services. Lazy and incompetant people are work out by the system.

      Derek - 2012-03-07 09:50

      Boer so the company is in effect outsourcing their HR department? all seams fine. Only I as a boilermaker would be pretty miffed if say I get 500 a day for working and the broker gets 1500 a day for me. So as long as the profit the broker makes out of me is fair and reasonable then it should only be a problem for the Lazy and incompetent.

      Martin - 2012-03-07 10:05

      @The Boer: What the unions are trying to achieve would basically be the following: Each company would have to have a full recruitment division so that these 75 people can be contracted and the resulting contracts be managed. Therefore, the business is no longer focusing on it core competencies. Rather, it is building up a database of staff and managing their temporary employment. This causes unnecessary administrative overheads to arise, placing additional pressure on the finances of the company, reducing growth opportunities and effectively costing jobs. Medium size firms cannot afford recruitment divisions, it's to expensive and if the work dries up they are stuck with the overhead and will need to do costly retrenchments etc. Banning labour brokers would lead to billions in added costs to national industry as internal recruitment divisions be expensive and time consuming to set up and would probably not have enough work to justify their cost.

  • phathuchicos - 2012-03-06 23:30

    ANC won't do a thing since they are screwing up Cape town...

  • Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-06 23:31

    Multi you are correct, banning of Labour Brokers will result in job loss. But it doesn't necessary translate to increased unemployment because institutions using the Labour Broker system will not freeze the necessary services and positions provided/occupied by workers with the banning of Labour Brokers. Labour Brokers do not create employment but contracts to exploit the less leveraged job seeker and profit from such scheme.

      Martin - 2012-03-07 10:07

      I wrote a comment above explaining to you how it will cost jobs. Please see it.

  • Lacrimose - 2012-03-06 23:35

    2012, laws, processes. We ought to be beyond this marching/protesting by now. If COSATU can amass such an overwhelming response it can be a)voted out b)petitioned out c) taken as a 'class' (mass) action to courts - and probably many more ways I've not thought of too. These protests always start out with noble and honourable beliefs and always deteriorate into violent and senseless acts. Which in turn over-shadows the issues people are protesting against. Public and govt sympathy evaporates and all we are all left with is loss. There are other, better ways, COSATU. Time you guys started using the legitimate, peaceful means to get your message heard.

  • Thokozane Maloka - 2012-03-06 23:38

    Rather regulate labour brokers instead, but I support the mass action against e-tolls.

  • Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-06 23:51

    Dearest Lacrimose I would like to reiterate that tomorrow strike is legitimate. You seem to associate strikes with violence and consider them as instrument not permitted post apartheid era. Yes it is year 2012 and strikes are relevant. Do you honestly think Cosatu will mobilize for a strike if table engagement were not the first thing they have tried to do? Please inform yourself before making illinformed attacks. I repeat legally protected strikes are not barbaric/anti 2012 but a fundamental labour's right as per LRA. Educate yourself, we are not here to teach the basics!

      Derek - 2012-03-07 00:02

      Im quite pleased that cosatu is taking action it gives me hope that there is "someone" big enough to stand up to the cANCer

      Lacrimose - 2012-03-07 02:15

      I'm not questioning the legal right for such a strike/march/protest. I know you have permits etc. It's just so old school. I am asking, is this the best you can do after all these years? Yes, I have lived through many of your strikes - been stabbed, beaten and much more besides - just because I was going to work, at work or maybe just looking unhappy?. So enough of your culture of kill/burn/destroy. Join the 1st century of a free and democratic society in South Africa and sort out your problems and issues through civilised means. You cannot possibly, after 17 years still be in the same place as it was under that other government and say this is the only way. It seems to me this is the only way you know how. And that is the real tragedy

      Peter - 2012-03-07 06:20

      Pharoah, your strikes always involve violence and destruction. We witness them ourselves - over and over and over.

  • jeanpierre.dumont - 2012-03-07 00:07

    "The Masses" mainly make use of taxis and public transport and are therefore largerly unaffected by e-tolling. Taxis etc are exempt from paying tolls. Seems to me they want another day off work.

      Naledi Mabindla - 2012-03-07 06:45

      Food will go up for all of us please don't be a moron just because when food goes up u still have money to buy it

      Nyandeni Simphiwe - 2012-03-07 07:33

      Jean I Don't know what you are implying here brother...if those don't go and strike for you people with cars will you do it...? NO!! Instead you'll just whine like every other white person and not do anything

  • Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-07 00:25

    Another notion based on misinformation from government. We forget the reality that commuters are also consumers. Though public transport fares may not rise appreciably relative to the e-tolling, prices of commodities and services will inevitably rise. The public transport users you were made to believe are unaffected by e-tolls will severely suffer from financial strains as result of e-tolls. Exemption from paying for e-tolls doesn't protect you from increased goods and services prices. We are missing an important point here and I suspect that's the very reason Santaco will not participate in the strike tomorrow!

  • Thandi - 2012-03-07 05:18

    Ho-hum - 'mass-action' means it is time for the children to come out and play again. Lets just hope that that these infantile morons don't do the usual trashing and hooliganism that goes hand-in-hand with these 'waste-of-time' gatherings. At the end of the day we will be left with costs of millions due to lower than usual productivity, cleaning up the mess and the so-called policing of the hysteria - and no-one will have proved or achieved a thing. Grow up - striking and unions at best perpetuate mediocrity.

      Sganja - 2012-03-07 06:25

      Thandi,Other people are suffering and they see a necessity to strike, have you work for labour broker and do you know how parasite they are?

      Fundukululukunjakunne Why Cano - 2012-03-07 06:46

      Em Thandi Just because u have a good Job that enables you to manipulate the people u call hooligans doesnot mean that all is well for the hooligans the system that defend does not even give a dam you should knw by now that strike action is all abt atention seeking should the relevant people fail to pay any attention then yeah we shall be watching news

      Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-07 06:55

      Grow up - Start accepting organized labour and mass actions as part of a democratic society recognized structures/instruments! These two are most effective ways to suppress abuse from those with the upper hand. It is the kind of legal language better understand by people in power. This may be foreign to you if you were previously advantaged but we are willing to workshop you Thandi.

      Boer - 2012-03-07 07:12

      Sganja: why do people(workers) use labour brokers in the first place?

  • Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-07 05:37

    It would be foolish of us to do away with strikes just because we have been using them for long time and consider them 'old school'. Strike are still relevant yes even in democratic SA. They still prove to send the same message even in 2012, so why do away with such effective engagement instrument? I am not and leaders/organizers are not condoning violence associated with strikes. Not all strikes turn violently I am sure you have seen that unless ignorant. I wonder why strikes were regulated as evident in Labour Relation Act if they were uncivil? Your bad experience with strikes unfortunately changed your way of rational thinking on this matter. It's a shame you are defying workers rights to march and label such old school uncivilized. Cosatu started with conventional inviting government for discussions around this matter and were ignored. Get informed before you make misguided attacks!

  • Tumelo - 2012-03-07 05:50

    Now all civilised complaining idiots who are critical of Cosatu strike are the same ones who fold their arms and say "we are not happy about Anc and government.We need someone who will stand up against them". When someone like Cosatu does the same louts have the audacity to cry foul. You suck big time and I dont want to associate myself with people like you. Cosatu here I come (Library Gardens - Jhb Cbd)

      pws69 - 2012-03-07 06:41

      You are the embodiment of why we have not progressed as we should have, with all the available resources at our disposal. I'll draw a picture, in crayon, so you might understand. You don't support an organisation BLINDLY, you support issues. Banning Labour Brokers is wrong. Yes there are unscrupulous operators, but there are also many more genuine operators who add value and create employment. So, do you try to cancel out a whole industry simply because of a few bad apple you, as government, are UNABLE to regulate? If that was how we did things, then COSATU should also be striking to ban the ANC< because of the MULTITUDE of corrupt ANC politicians costing us over R250 BILLION a year. So, if you support my contention that the ANC should be banned, using YOUR logic, I'll support you in banning labour brokers using YOUR logic. Quid pro quo.

  • Peter - 2012-03-07 06:17

    I wonder if "the masses" will ever make a mass effort to build the country instead of break it. Never ever any positive action, always negative. I guess they feel that at least while they're protesting they don't have to work. I fear there is no constructive side to these people.

      Fundukululukunjakunne Why Cano - 2012-03-07 06:32

      Sorry Peter but who exactly are you reffering to as these people? You might have more than enough money to pay for the tolls but not the majority of "these people".

      Peter - 2012-03-07 07:31

      These people are those that strike for any reason whatsoever. Maybe this is a "better" cause than usual, but why include teachers - do you really need to make your point at the expense of the future of children? Never hear a story about a community getting together and building a school - plenty people burning them though. I guess thats the mentality of people who treat the country like a dustbin, don't know if its genetic or taught.

  • Tgif - 2012-03-07 06:17


  • Matthew Hoatson - 2012-03-07 06:26

    The country would be better off with out cosatu, unemployment would probably be lower and these strikes would not give anyone a chance to vandalise and tear up our city's. Some people just need a proper education.

      Nyandeni Simphiwe - 2012-03-07 07:26

      I don't think you understand what cosatu is

  • treatwell - 2012-03-07 06:32

    U know the sad part is some of the white people won't join the protests but they are quick to long on news24 to point out fingers on how the ANC is screwing up, if we want this to work all races must participate, mourning about ANC won't solve anything But this rally might.

  • Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-07 06:36

    Marching doesn't equal violence! Those who still equate peaceful participation in legal march as uncivil demonstrate highest degree of mental disability. Stop exposing yourselves! How can a human right become uncivil? Not all strikes bear criminal elements. Stop complaining and change your attitude based on apartheid hangover. Support the strike or suppress your misguided views.

  • pws69 - 2012-03-07 06:36

    Why I am against tolling: Fuel Price calculation Price: R11.23 Basic Fuel price; R6.56 Customs and Excise (tax): 4c Road Accident Fund (tax): 80c IITRL (tax): 3c DSML (tax): 10c Fuel Tax: R1,77 The rest is made of of transport costs and profits in the supply chain. So, R2,74, or 24,4% is tax. My wife and I spend on average R3,000 a month in fuel = R732 in TAX. There are 4 million cars in GP. So, to get an idea of just tax collections in just GP, let's do a rough calculation, with some thumb suck numbers. Each car spends R1,000 per month on fuel = R244 in tax R244 x 4,000,000 = R976,000,000 per month in tax. Toll roads cost R20 billion = 20,49 months for repayment. But we must spend money on other roads, so let's double the repayment period to 42 months. Will SANRAL cancel the tolls in month 43? Nope. Just like the "service fee" added onto our licenses to pay for eNATIS, which was paid for with this "service fee" over 2 years ago, it will remain. Now, the crux. The argument is "the user must pay". That assumes that EVERYONE getting onto the highway switches their engines off, and coasts up and down hills. FARK, we've just invented perpetual motion in SA. Or, we are ALREADY paying, through PETROL TAXES, and now we are paying twice.

  • Duncan Thabiso Mphailane - 2012-03-07 06:51

    WTF is COSATU doing? Their members can't afford to buy cars, they use public transport. Taxis and buses are not going to pay toll fees. How on earth does this affect commuters? People must start using Rea Vaya, Metro buses and the Gautrain. There are a lot of benefits in using public transport. China can learn from us in as far as reducing traffic congestion and air pollution caused by all those cars on their "free ways".

  • Emily - 2012-03-07 06:59

    I appreciate that Cosatu is taking this action. This is action, not talk. They have tried discussion and it has not resulted in an adequate solution. Government should consult with the public before initiating public spending which will increase many motorist's monthly spends by R550. I feel this is very much a lead SA type moment of speaking out against a government that imposes rather than rules collaboratively with the public. We have yet to see if the march turns violent. Hopefully we will be pleasantly surprised

  • Kantoro Sten Mlauzi - 2012-03-07 07:02

    @duncan,,it does affect them look at this in a broader way, obviously de taxi n bus fare will rise,,once e-tolling is fully implemented n the price of petrol it will affect even you, everything will cost us and it will be worse for the low class, dont be arrogant broer

      pws69 - 2012-03-07 07:06

      A lot of people just do not understand the knock on effect of this additional tax.

      Duncan Thabiso Mphailane - 2012-03-07 07:13


      Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-07 07:13

      It is unfortunate you have to teach basic economics to our lost friend here. That is why education is important. You are correct, exempting public transport from e-tolling doesn't protect public transport users from financial strains of increased goods and service prices derived from e-tolling system. Public transport users may for some time not experience fare increase as result of e-toll but as consumer will inevitably suffer increased of other services and commodities! Huh Economics 101

  • pws69 - 2012-03-07 07:12

    The knock on effect of the toll: Item a requires a few components to manufacture it. Let us use bread as an example. Supplier 1 (flower) pays toll, and passes on the cost. Supplier 2 (yeast) pays toll, and passes on the cost. Supplier 3 (additives) pays toll, and passes on the cost. Bread manufacturer delivers bread to retailer, pays toll, and passes on the cost. You might also have a situation where the all of these companies in the supply chain are forced to pay more in salaries because of the additional cost in transport, and they pass this cost onto the consumer. So, whilst the effect of the toll might only be 1c per loaf of bread to the bakery, it is in fact 4c to the consumer (1c from each supplier, plus 1c from the bakery). I'll take some strain, but this could be life changing for someone on a R258 a month grant.

  • Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-07 07:20

    To put you up to speed Duncan, the model on roads and public transport presented to parliament I talked about earlier was taken from China. It can't be the other way round, unless you can show us how. Lol

  • Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-07 07:30

    Thank you pws69 for sharing some light. You put it in a condensed simplified form even for the novice. Duncan if you don't get it by now enroll for beginner classes, we can't help you with such here!

  • Herbert - 2012-03-07 07:30

    Damn !!! Let alone sharing the march with but following Malema!!! NO!! Count me out this round. However, I will be there in full spirit but allow me to quote the Lotter murder accused; I dont march with the tokoloshe !!!

  • Emily - 2012-03-07 07:59

    As much as all comments have some validity, we need to try to be more open to considering other perspectives. This "Us" and "Them" language is ridiculous. Who qualifies you to be an "Us" or them to be a "They". We are in this together. Every event such as this strike needs to be evaluated critically, however, if all your comments tend towards only being critical and negative you need to re-evaluate your bias.

  • Kevin - 2012-03-07 08:04

    Big failure in Joburg as all the taxi are running full of people in and out of town.

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