It was a sea of red when Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) showed solidarity and joined the nationwide protest yesterday (Wednesday).
Cosatu, joined by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) and the South African Teachers Union (Sadtu) marched to the Office of the Premier to hand over a memorandum of grievances.
Some of the grievances:
Corruption has emerged as among the biggest threat to our democracy. It is like cancer eating at the moral fibre of our society and eroding the moral standing of our revolution and the cause for which our people laid down their lives, the memorandum reads.
It is for this and such reasons that Cosatu will forever remain a champion of good, ethical and principled values of governance and leadership. Once again, Cosatu has taken the path of acting against corruption by taking to the streets and acting with decisiveness against the scourge of corruption, retrenchments, state refusal to grant workers their wage increments and lack of PPEs for frontline workers in the face of a devastating Covid-19 pandemic.
Retrenchments and job losses
The economy has been shedding jobs for a while now, with Cosatu launching its Jobs and Poverty Campaign as early as the late 1990s, they have always identified jobs as key to the improvement of the quality of lives of workers and communities. According to Stats SA, a total of 2,2 million jobs have been lost in a space of a few months and this accounts for a real national crisis. This means, about 4,3 million people are unemployed in the country. The Covid-19 pandemic only compounded and worsened a crisis long identified as a time-bomb waiting to explo m=de.
Cosatu has in every forum and negotiation avenue raised the call for a moratorium on retrenchments, both to private and public employers. If we must flatten the curve on poverty, unemployment and inequalities, this is central.
Gender-based violence in the workplace
Every day, workers lives are put at risk for the sake of profits. Black women experience exploitation and oppression in the workplace. With Covid-19 we have seen how workers have had to risk getting sick themselves to take care of the sick, to keep growing food, to work at supermarkets and pharmacies. Many of these workers are women who have children and families at home.
Attacks on collective bargaining
The collective and centralised bargaining system in South Africa and globally, was a product of hard struggles by workers for effective defense of their rights, wages and decent working and living conditions. Employers and governments fought long and hard to effect the divide and rule principle in order to weaken the unity, solidarity and collective power of workers. When workers sing the song Solidarity Forever, it haunts established powers about the essence and strength in numbers and unity of workers. It reminds all that the factories, workplaces, public services, private enterprises, schools, health facilities, community services, industrial production and mining sectors and all other functioning places are the result of workers’ labour. In other words, they can and have come to a standstill whenever workers withdraw their labour and demand better wages and working conditions.
According to Jacob Adams, Secretary of Nehawu the unions gave Government seven days to respond to their grievances.
Story: Umpha Manenzhe