Disheartened by government and the private sector’s continued treatment of workers, Cosatu on Wednesday banded together with other trade union federations – Federation of Unions of SA, National Teachers Union and the SA Federation of Trade Unions – on a nationwide strike.
The unions called for the implementation of the bargaining council wage agreement of 2018, demanded that unemployment be urgently tackled, protection of workers from Covid-19 coronavirus through providing them with proper personal protective equipment and that there is decent public transport.
Cosatu made it clear that it now believed that government and the private sector “do not care for the lives and livelihoods of workers,” saying that this has been highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said: “From now on it shouldn’t be about our egos as federation union leaders, but about banding together and putting forward the worker’s struggle.
“We are not here to play games or here because we have nothing better to do. We want implementation [from government and private sector] within 14 days,” she demanded.
Losi led the banded unions from Burgers Park, in the heart of Pretoria, to the National Treasury building where they were met by two ministers.
A memorandum with the list of demands was handed to Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
However, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was not present to acknowledge their demands.
Losi took a swipe at Mboweni and said that his absence was a sign of how he disregards workers.Read: Inside Labour | Cracked and depleted labour movement must unite to save the unemployed
Some of the key issues raised were the treatment of frontline workers during the Covid-19 lockdown, the continued scourge of gender-based violence, corruption and challenges facing the taxi industry.
“We stand firmly to express our anger and disappointment at the lack of care, support and protection of fellow frontline workers, who put their lives at risk to save all of us from the scourge of Covid-19.”
“Sadly, we have lost several of them to this pandemic because we put profits and interests of the rich ahead of those of workers and the poor,” the memorandum read.
They also noted that both public and private sectors had demonstrated unbelievable levels of grand scale corruption without regard for the suffering of the people and their needs.
Losi on Magashule and corruption
Losi though, hailed the Hawks for the recent arrests and insisted that there should not be any delays in convicting those who are found to be guilty of corruption.
The Hawks last week nabbed seven suspects in connection with the Free State asbestos case.
On Wednesday morning rumours were making the rounds regarding an arrest warrant for ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Law enforcement later sent out a statement denying any intention of arresting Magashule.
Losi said politicians needed to “stop with weak excuses and take responsibility” the same way they “steal and eat workers money alone”.
This was seen as a swipe at those calling the arrests “a political conspiracy”.
In a brief speech, Mbalula assured workers that his department would be going through their demands and would give feedback accordingly.
“We have heard what Losi had to say and we will look into issues like the e-tolling system and the taxi industry. I assure you that we will try to come back with a pleasing response,” Mbalulu said.