Fedusa lashes out at Saftu, calls nationwide strike self-serving

Cape Town - The Federation of Unions of SA on Tuesday "totally rejected" calls by the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) to join it in a "self-serving nationwide strike" against the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

In an emotively worded statement, Fedusa said "it can never be legitimate to allow highly irresponsible grandstanding to undermine [the] lot of hard work" that went into setting a minimum floor for wages.

On Monday, Saftu called on all workers, regardless of their union affiliation, to support the upcoming nationwide strike.

According to Fedusa, the National Minimum Wage was determined by organised labour, represented by trade federations Fedusa, Cosatu and Nactu and the social partners of business and government at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) over a two-year period.

The negotiations on a minimum floor for wages were to lift millions of vulnerable South African workers out of abject poverty. 

"At 26.7%, our country is currently suffering one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

"This has been made worse by an extremely low economic growth and the sovereign credit rating to junk status or sub-investment grade, and a nationwide strike will cripple all efforts to turn that situation around," Fedusa said.

Fedusa's criticism of Saftu comes as thousands of workers get ready to take to the streets on Wednesday for a one-day strike to protest the recent increase in value-added tax, the minimum wage and "several labour bills making their way through Parliament".

Saftu threatened, during a march to Parliament on April 12, that the union federation planned to make the country “ungovernable” if government continued with its plans of a R3 500 minimum wage.

Saftu demands what it calls "a living wage".

"We will put the economy of this country down for them to listen. This economy is built on our own sweat and blood," the federation's Western Cape deputy chairperson, Nyaniso Siyana, said during the march to Parliament.

Saftu gave government an ultimatum to come back with a "positive response" before April 25, otherwise it would return to Parliament to take further action.

Saftu is South Africa's second largest union federation after Cosatu, representing 30 unions, including the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. It was launched in April 2017 and, according to Saftu, now represents more than 800 000 workers.

Meanwhile, Fedusa said on Tuesday that it remained fully cognisant that the proposed R20 per hour - translating to R3 500 a month - was not a living wage, "but it is a minimum wage recommended for 47% of workers currently earning less than R20 per hour".

"This alone means that half the workers will directly benefit from the NMW that has further been recommended to be subjected to an annual review, to ensure that its value is not eroded over time and that it addresses inequality."

The NMW would have kicked in on 1 May 2018, but the implementation date has been pushed back.

* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER

ZAR/USD
16.90
(+0.73)
ZAR/GBP
21.16
(+0.38)
ZAR/EUR
19.08
(+0.50)
ZAR/AUD
11.71
(+0.55)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.85)
Gold
1772.87
(+0.30)
Silver
17.95
(-0.14)
Platinum
824.00
(+0.67)
Brent Crude
42.09
(+1.84)
Palladium
1908.00
(+0.63)
All Share
54590.35
(+1.49)
Top 40
50320.11
(+1.51)
Financial 15
10250.20
(+2.48)
Industrial 25
76318.99
(+1.44)
Resource 10
50493.50
(+1.03)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'm not really directly affected
18% - 1523 votes
I am taking a hit, but should be able to recover in the next year
23% - 1987 votes
My finances have been devastated
34% - 2967 votes
It's still too early to know what the full effect will be
25% - 2155 votes
Vote