Another union joins plans for national shutdown next week, rallies allies

19 August 2022 - 11:59
By Alex Patrick
The General Industries Workers Union of SA has pledged to join other unions on August 24 for a planned national shutdown.
Image: Sharon Seretlo The General Industries Workers Union of SA has pledged to join other unions on August 24 for a planned national shutdown.

The General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) is joining the SA Federation of Trade Unions and Congress of SA Trade Unions for a national shutdown next week.

The unions are protesting on August 24 against the rising cost of living, fuel costs and load-shedding. 

On Thursday Giwusa said it is committed to mobilise among all civic, student and trade union structures.

“Unbearable increases in electricity, fuel and food prices mean most workers — those taking home less than R4,000 a month — can no longer afford what it costs to feed our families in a manner that meets nutritional needs.

“Meat and even vegetables and fruit have become luxuries. While prices have risen, wages and grants have not kept pace with inflation.

“The oil and gas companies are, meanwhile, making record profits. While the poor are getting poorer and the middle classes are being squeezed, the rich have increased their wealth.”

The union said the living conditions of the working class and the poor became noticeable during the Covid-19 pandemic “when workers globally lost a full 10% of income over two years, and while the concentration of wealth at the top soared”.

It said in Sub-Saharan Africa the “super-rich” grew their wealth by 15%.

“Workers and the poor cannot afford to pay for the ruling elites to get richer. Ultimately we need an economy to ensure the needs of people will come before profits. In the immediate period, we are calling on organisations and activists to join in building a cost of living campaign.”

It said the campaign would:

  • control energy, food and fuel costs;
  • protect incomes and provide a basic income grant;
  • make housing affordable and a have moratorium on evictions;
  • invest more in public services such as transport, health, education and water;
  • share the wealth, and tax the rich, and;
  • transition to socially owned renewable energy rapidly.

“The poorest are already facing hunger and extreme poverty due to mass unemployment.

“Misery is exacerbated by repeated failures in our energy and transport systems, with 80% of train stations no longer functional and bus services in disarray.

“We have a social welfare system on the verge of collapse, with brutal means testing resulting in rejection of half the 10-million applicants for emergency grants, fatal floods due to climate ‘rain bombs’ in KwaZulu-Natal and persistent drought leading to water rationing in Gqeberha.”

It said the climate crisis was caused by global and SA “fossil- and gas-addicted elites”, and that extreme water pollution was “driven by ecological disregard by capitalists and careless state management”.

The union has called for the Federation of Unions of SA , the National Council of Trade Unions and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union to join the national shutdown.


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