Cape Town - Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has spoken out in support of workers' rights to take part in the mass strike action planned by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) for Wednesday.
Cosatu said the national strike is against state capture and corruption. In a newspaper advertisement about the strike, Cosatu said it wants both President Jacob Zuma as well as Western Premier Helen Zille "to go".
Cosatu plans to "shut the country down" during its planned mass strike action. It includes a march to Parliament in Cape Town, starting at 11:00.
On Tuesday it called on workers to join the marches at thirteen venues across the country,
According to Cosatu workers are demanding that the government and business stop corruption; that they create decent jobs for all, including living wages; and that the government provides free education to the poor "from cradle to grave" and decent public transport for all.
The union said in its advertisement that in terms of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act all workers can participate and not only Cosatu members.
"This is a legal strike and bosses cannot discipline workers for joining the strike.
"All 16 million employed workers in South Africa have a right to join the strike without fear of any consequences or disciplinary hearings," stated Cosatu.
In its statement, BLSA said its #BusinessBelieves campaign pledges to crush corruption wherever it is found in the private and public sectors.
"The BLSA values are defined by our country’s Constitution, and we therefore respect the democratic right of Cosatu to add its voice to the growing national condemnation of state capture and corruption," it said in the statement.
"In these extraordinary times in our young nation, when our constitutional democracy is confronted with its greatest challenge, BLSA reiterates its absolute commitment to upholding the rule of law and protection of the rights expressed in the Constitution, including freedom of expression."
BLSA said it supports its employees' constitutional right to peaceful protest and unequivocally endorses the urgent appointment of a independent Judicial Commission of Enquiry into State Capture, as per former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture Report.
"We call on our members to allow their employees to exercise their right to stay away, as governed by labour laws," concluded BLSA.
Not the answer
The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on the other hand, said in a statement on Tuesday that, although it fully endorses the motive to protest corruption and state capture, it does not believe that Cosatu will make an appreciable difference by taking to the streets.
“Although we support freedom of expression, we don’t believe that mass strike action is the best way to effect the real change we need,” said Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber.
“A strike is disruptive and damaging to an already fragile economy and puts further strain on the low rate of employment. It is the working class who suffer in a national strike as many may lose their day’s wages. Those are the people we should protect the most."
Myburgh added that both state capture and corruption are akin to treason, yet, in her view, mass strike action is not the solution.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.