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  • The two largest trade union federations, Cosatu and Saftu, called for a national shutdown on Wednesday in protest against rising living costs.
  • However, many South Africans continued with business as usual, ignoring the unions' calls to stay home.
  • Saftu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said although the turnout was small he believed the shutdown was "effective".

The two most prominent South African trade union federations, Cosatu and Saftu, called for a national shutdown on Wednesday in protest against rising living costs, particularly fuel price hikes.  

But many South Africans continued with business as usual, ignoring the unions' calls to stay home.

This week, we unpack the strike action and ask if its impact was significant enough to make the government sit up and heed workers' grievances. 

We talked to Fin24 journalist Khulekani Magubane, who covered the shutdown, and Saftu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi.

AS IT HAPPENED | National shutdown: Saftu, Cosatu protest rising cost of living

Magubane said there had been no mass protests, and that "many people would say this points to a failure". 

He believes "it wasn't a success in many ways".

He said labour's demands for a R1 500 Basic Income Grant and raising the national minimum wage to R75 an hour, among others, "will be difficult for government to meet halfway".

South African Federation of Trade Unions secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said there "is no doubt that the strike was effective, but marches were not at the scale of 2018". 

He blamed that on the collapsed train system.

He said the government needed to introduce a wealth tax and "invest that in productive sectors of the economy". 

"Only when we see an economy growing from a redistribution of wealth do we stand a chance of addressing the principal problem of South Africa, that is unemployment."


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