Cosatu takes march over jobs to Parliament

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Union members affiliated to Cosatu are set to march to Parliament on Tuesday, as part of an effort to mobilise for pro-poor policies ahead of the national Budget speech and to protest against job losses.

The Cape Town protest comes after the union held marches in big cities across the country last week to highlight the plight of the workers who are facing retrenchments from various sectors, including the prospect of job losses at Eskom, following an announcement  by President Cyril Ramaphosa that the power utility would be split into three business entities.

"We want the national budget to provide more resources for programmes which create more jobs and which promotes South Africa’s industrialisation," Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary Malvern de Bruyn said.

According to De Bruyn, the federation expects about 10 000 people to gather for the march.

"We intend to deliver a memorandum to the Speaker of Parliament. The memorandum addresses a range of issues, ranging from unemployment [to] corruption to the current state of Eskom and the proposed changes in the company," said De Bruyn.

'Jobs under threat'

"We are continuously hearing reports of retrenchments in many parts of the economy, including in the retail, manufacturing, mining and several other sectors. We also fear that jobs in state owned companies are under threat due to unbundling, restructuring and privatisation."

The federation has rejected the plans to unbundle Eskom, arguing that they have not been consulted. Cosatu affiliate the National Union of Mineworkers last week said they would engage government over the plan, insisting that splitting the struggling state-owned firm would not solve its dire financial challenges. The union commands a large membership in the coal sector.

Ramaphosa has insisted that the restructuring of Eskom does not mean that the state-owned power utility would be privatised.

The federation, which is also a critical member of the tripartite alliance, has urged government to halt the introduction of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to the national grid, arguing the process would also impact jobs on coal mines and power stations.

The federation sounded a warning to the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, ahead of his Budget speech, to regard the strike "as just a first warning of more mass actions to follow" should their demands fall on deaf ears.

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