The Congress of South African Trade Unions held 11 marches in eight provinces on Wednesday, in what it described as the start of protests against job losses in the country.
The federation will next Tuesday march on Parliament ahead of the Budget speech by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to voice their grievances, including against the recently announced plan to break up Eskom, which they believe would lead to job losses.
"Jobs are lost everywhere. Almost sectors have been impacted, particularly the mining industry, which has been losing jobs at a large scale," said Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.
"The aim is to highlight the plight of the workers whose jobs are being threatened on a daily basis."
Pamla said the federation had wanted to hold demonstrations on the day on the Budget, in a bid to pressure Mboweni to consider the needs of workers.
Cosatu has repeatedly raised concerns over the country’s high unemployment rate, which they believe is higher than the official rate of 27.1%. Official figures released this week showed that unemployment decreased slightly from 27.5 % at the end of the third quarter of 2018 to 27.1% at the end of the fourth quarter.
'Address the scourge'
"The figures do not mean anything. Jobs are being lost at an alarming rate and we want government to come up with practical solutions to effectively address the scourge," said Pamla.
Cosatu wants a moratorium on retrenchments in the private sector and public sector, a promise the Jobs Summit in October 2018 was unable to achieve, with reasons cited being challenging economic conditions and some firms needing to restructure.
According to Statistics South Africa, 6.1 million people are without jobs in the country, and a further 2.9 million have become discouraged from looking for jobs, while another 12.6 million people are considered not to be economically active.