Cosatu may have missed a trick with its e-tolling protest
The Times Editorial: Hundreds of thousands of people are poised to take to the streets across the country today in support of Cosatu's demand for the scrapping of Gauteng's controversial e-tolling system.
The union federation will also use today's protests - effectively a national strike - to push home its demand that labour broking be scrapped, but it is the opposition to e-tolling that makes the action different.
Apart from the usual suspects, including unionists and Julius Malema's ANC Youth League, people from all walks of life, across all communities, are likely to join the marches, such is their disdain for what many motorists have described as a new form of highway robbery.
Even the government's ''olive branch'' - in the form of a R5.8-billion Treasury special appropriation to help pay for Gauteng's recently revamped highway system that will result in the e-tolls being significantly reduced - has not assuaged the popular mood about the tolls, which come into operation at the end of April.
Cash-strapped consumers, already taxed, tolled and levied to the limit, have simply had enough.
But if Cosatu's intention was to use the protests to broaden its support base, it may have missed a trick by putting labour broking on the agenda today. Business, for one, is opposed to the new tolling system, but is far more ambivalent about using labour brokers.
Cosatu might also have erred in calling for a stayaway as opposed to, say, a series of lunch-time marches, which might have been more convenient for thousands of white-collar employees who are dead set against e-tolls.
Whether the union federation will be able to use today's show of strength to convince the government to scrap the system is a moot point.
Its general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi appeared to concede this yesterday when he said: "Particularly on April 28 . we are more likely to think about lots of creative ways, which we have talked about, that will make that whole [e-tolling] system unworkable . completely unworkable."