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Traffic backlog as Cosatu embarks on N2 go-slow in Durban

07 October 2020 - 13:23 By Zimasa Matiwane and Orrin Singh
Cosatu members embarked on a protest march in central Durban on Wednesday.
Cosatu members embarked on a protest march in central Durban on Wednesday.
Image: Zimasa Matiwane

Workers started gathering at assembly points across Durban on Wednesday to take part in labour federation Cosatu's national strike.

Traffic entering the KwaZulu-Natal city has been severely affected as hundreds of Cosatu members embark on a national strike against job losses, unemployment and corruption.

Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said members had embarked on a go-slow drive on the N2 from Port Shepstone, Tongaat and Pietermaritzburg.

"Workers are tired of the socio-economic conditions we face, namely poverty, inequality and unemployment. At least 42% of people in SA are unemployed - that is a crisis," he said.

Mkhize said Cosatu was even more outraged by corruption during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying this was tantamount to murder.

"When we were fighting Covid-19, people were busy stealing money that is supposed to be saving lives. We are saying that is killing because you are stealing money that is supposed to save lives."

Cosatu also criticised what it described as "corruption by the private sector" regarding payments of the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters).

"Companies in the private sector did not want to assist workers with UIF payments during the lockdown. Some have claimed from the Unemployment [Insurance] Fund but have not released the money to workers. Some only released portions of the money to workers while others claimed despite the fact that they were operating during lockdown."

Tackling corruption in public and private sectors

Mkhize said the Cosatu march was highlighting both government and private sector corruption.

"We are tackling corrupt government officials who are stealing money and corrupt  companies that have stolen workers' money," he said.

Mkhize said wage increases for public servants were also a matter of concern.

He said the government's inability to pay increases that were "collectively agreed on in 2018" was disrespectful to workers.

He lauded the recent high-profile arrests by the Hawks, but said actions must be extended beyond just government."

'Put all corrupt people behind bars'

"We have seen some high-ranking officials being arrested. We are happy with that. The Hawks must go beyond that and all those found to be corrupt must be put behind bars, not just public servants but also those who control the means of production, the private sector bosses," said Mkhize.

Cosatu's motorcade, which is expected to bring Durban to a "standstill", will convene at the police provincial headquarters where a memorandum of demands is expected to be delivered.

Police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker confirmed that the N3 between Pinetown and the Pavilion Shopping Centre had been brought to a standstill due to slow-moving traffic.

Naicker said the N2 onramp to the N3, towards the CBD, had also been affected by the go-slow.