Saftu threatens to make SA ‘ungovernable’

The South African Federation of Trade Unions will celebrate its one-year anniversary by “making South African ungovernable” unless the state scraps the national minimum wage in its current format and introduces fair labour laws.

The federation, which represents 30 unions and around 800 000 workers, took aim at everyone from President Cyril Ramaphosa to its rival federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

Saftu general secretary Zwelinsima Vavi mocked Ramaphosa as “the buffalo” who was once a hero to unionists but became “co-opted” by multinational corporations. The buffalo remark refers to Ramaphosa’s infamous auction bid to pay R18-million for a buffalo.

“Voetsek Cyril Ramaphosa voetsek,” was one of Vavi’s chants as he addressed hundreds of workers and concerned residents outside Parliament.

Saftu, along with local organisations concerned about the water crisis and the National Union of Metalworkers in South Africa, marched on Parliament to declare that the state should implement a “living wage” instead of a R20 per hour rate for most workers in the country.

A breakdown of the proposed national minimum wage is as follows:

  • R20/hour for most workers
  • R18/hour for farmworkers
  • R15/hour for domestic workers
  • R11/hour for Expanded Public Works Programme workers

“We are saying to Cyril Ramaphosa, take that R20 … you can find a space behind the beds of your buffalos and you can put that R20 there,” Vavi said.

The federation is also challenging amendments to the Labour Relations Act, which will see employers having increased powers to stop a protected strike by being enabled to raise a complaint in the CCMA or the courts that a strike is running for too long or it is negatively impacting the company.

The new labour bill will also require unions to only declare a strike if there has been a secret ballot vote. The process could possibly be onerous, as it may require the entire union to vote. Employers will also be able to raise complaints if the secret ballot process is irregular, further impeding access to a protected strike.

Parliament received and signed Saftu’s memorandum of demands but the federation has threatened to take further action if it does not receive a “positive response” from the house.

“Should we not get a positive response by April 25, we will be back here to get that response,” Western Cape Saftu deputy chairperson Nyaniso Siyana told protesters.

“We will put the economy of this country down for them to listen. This economy is built on our own sweat and blood,” he said.

The federation also took aim at Cosatu, who picketed outside Parliament after Saftu left, calling them “sell-outs” and “corrupt”. But in one moment, when Cosatu regional secretary Tony Ehrenreich walked toward the march around an hour before the Cosatu picket was meant to begin in the same area, Vavi welcomed him on stage and hugged him tightly.

“This is our man,” Vavi said after warmly embracing Ehrenreich. “This is a Numsa man. He belongs here among the truth-tellers.”

Saftu’s planned national strike on April 25 coincides with the federation’s one-year anniversary. The union has earlier said it will have a day of action to oppose Ramaphosa’s administration and ensure the national “slave wage” becomes a “living wage”.

“Every township will come to standstill,” Vavi said on Thursday, describing the April 25 shutdown to protesters. “No bus will move unless the bus is taking us to the march.” 

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Uneasy peace in Mooi River after riots brought town to...

The KwaZulu-Natal town’s strategic location on the N3 corridor brings with it the danger of renewed unrest

Time for young leaders to take over ANC’s top six...

The justice minister, who is angling to become the party’s deputy president, was quick to add that there should be a generational mix in leadership

Editorial: A political solution from Ramaphosa or Gordhan will not...

After more than 10 years of meddling and the countless executive game of musical chairs, please leave political actors out of Eskom problem-solving. This is a problem to be solved by Andre de Ruyter and the unions and the ‘rogue’ employees working outside the established channels

God, the Gunners and Gordhan

Number 1 should take some tips from Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta and finally clear the cabinet of some deadwood
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×