All set for national strike by workers against socioeconomic conditions

Department of public service warns employees of 'no work, no pay' principle

24 August 2022 - 07:00 By TimesLIVE
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Thousands of workers are expected to stay away from work and strike as two of the country’s trade union federations and unions affiliated to them embark on a national shutdown on Wednesday.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the national strike was in response to load-shedding, fuel price hikes and escalating food prices.

Unions including Cosatu are expected to embark on a national shutdown on Wednesday.
Unions including Cosatu are expected to embark on a national shutdown on Wednesday.
Image: Kabelo Mofokeng

“This socioeconomic strike also represents a push back and a response by the workers to the ongoing class warfare directed at them by both public and private sector employers,” Cosatu said.

SA Federation of Trade Unions general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said its members across the country will embark on a strike to raise grievances and express discontent about the appalling conditions they must endure. It called on South Africans to stay at home in support of its national strike.

However, workers who rely on taxis to go to work and who are not willing to participate are unlikely to be affected after the SA National Taxi Council said it will not be part of the shutdown and taxis will be operating normally on Wednesday.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) said it stood in solidarity with workers and supported Wednesday’s national shutdown.

The Public Servants Association (PSA), which represents more than 235,000 public-sector employees, said it is in full support of the national shutdown.

“Growing frustration in the country is mainly ascribed to certain government policies that only benefit the country’s elite, while the unemployed, the poor, and middle-class workers are slipping deeper into despair.

“The current food-basket price alone has increased by 14% in 2022. Despite this, government is offering a mere 2%-salary increase to its employees,” PSA said.

The PSA said while it supports the national shutdown, it is balloting its members in preparation for a public service strike planned for September and is focusing its energy on these preparations.

The department of public service & administration said the principle of “no work, no pay” will apply for absence for a full day as well as part of a working day for public sector employees who will embark on the strike.

It said leave will be strictly managed and no leave will be granted unless under extreme and compelling situations.

The department said while protest actions are protected by the Labour Relations Act, those employees who fall within the essential services are prohibited from participating in protests during working hours.

The Assembly of the Unemployed said it will be joining the national shutdown to demand tangible solutions to the country’s economic crisis.

“It is deplorable that 28 years into our democracy, the poor and the marginalised  continue to live in inhumane conditions,” the group said. 

The association called for government to tax the rich, and said this could raise more than R140bn annually.

It said proceeds from a wealth tax will help fund a decent basic income grant of R1,500 per month for all unemployed between the ages of 18-59, including caregivers, home-based workers and workers who earn below the national minimum wage.

The assembly also called on the government to fix the energy crisis that is negatively affecting the country’s productivity and said it was against the privatisation of the energy sector

“We call for an end to austerity (budget cuts). The government is already struggling to meet its constitutional obligations to the majority of people.”


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