Cosatu calls for national strike over brokers, tolls

A national strike will be held on March 7 to protest against labour brokers and the proposed Gauteng toll roads, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday.

The action would be legal and no trade union worker could be punished for downing tools, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told shop stewards in Soweto.

“We must mobilise our members in every industry. Our strength is unity and it through unity that we can achieve our goals.”

Cosatu’s Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile said he wanted to see teachers leading protest marches on March 7.

“South African Democratic Teachers’ Union [Sadtu], we are looking to you to make sure this happens,” Dakile said.

This means schools would close on the day of the strike.

No brokers, no tolls, no discussion
Vavi called for the outlawing of labour brokers, adding they undermined trade unionism by enabling employers to run their businesses using casual workers.

Brokers handled every aspect of the employment process, keeping the real employer at arm’s length from its human resources. They also provided temporary workers to industries.

Vavi said the proposed Gauteng tolls were also not up for discussion.

“The government is telling us not to cut off dialogue, but we cannot move from our position. We do not want tolls,” he said.

“We want the right to use public roads without having to pay for it … What’s next? Will it be tolls for Cape Town and Durban,” he asked.

“The government should be focusing on ensuring safe, affordable and reliable public transport, so that ordinary people can get home after work without being mugged and raped.”

Revolutionary morality
Vavi was clear on the points where Cosatu disagreed with South Africa’s leadership, but said the ANC and Cosatu were inextricably intertwined.

The failure of one would mean the inevitable end of the other.

“As workers we have to ensure that the ANC does well and rediscovers its revolutionary morality.”

But it had to “fix its house before it landed on its head”, he said.

To do this, decent jobs, quality education, food security, health care, and crime had to be addressed as a priority.

Vavi appealed to workers not to fixate on leadership succession within the ruling party.

“We cannot have a situation where the national debate is dominated by leadership succession to the detriment of real issues.”

At the beginning of his hour-long speech, Vavi said the Eastern Cape government and Sadtu were on the verge of ending their differences and that an agreement would be announced on Wednesday.

“I am on my way to the Eastern Cape after this meeting and I believe that by tonight we will have the breakthrough,” he said. — Sapa

Follow the Mail & Guardian‘s coverage of Cosatu’s 2012 march

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