Tag: strike

By Tehillah Niselow for Fin24 

Thousands of workers are expected to take to the streets on Wednesday for a one day strike as the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) plans to make the country “ungovernable”.

The federation marched to parliament on April 12 and handed over a memorandum of demands but they say that the response did not address their concerns and workers will embark on nationwide action to put pressure on members of parliament to reject several labour bills making their way through parliament.

Saftu, led by dynamic general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, was formed exactly one year ago.

Fin24 took a closer look at their plans for the general strike.

When: Wednesday 25 April 2018

How: Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) allows workers to undertake protected strike action to promote their social and economic interests. Saftu’s application to the Section 77 Sub-Committee of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) was unsuccessful but three trade unions affiliated to Saftu; NUPSAW, ICTU and Salipswu made a similar Section 77 application to Nedlac and it was granted.

On Wednesday, all employees, regardless of whether they are Saftu members or non-unionised may join the strike under the ‘no work, no pay principle’.

Who: According to unaudited figures, Saftu has 800 000 members. The largest affiliate is the biggest trade union in SA, the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) with approximately 300 000 members, mostly in the manufacturing sector.

“We want everyone to join, in particular appealing to rank and file members [of other unions], many of them will be disgusted that their leaders voted for the [labour law] changes, without a mandate”, Saftu spokesperson Patrick Craven told Fin24.

Where: Saftu is expected to announce the nationwide routes at a press conference on Monday.

Why Saftu is taking to the streets

1. Labour law amendments

Parliament is currently considering amendments to the Labour Relations Act‚ the Basic Conditions of Employment Act‚ and the new National Minimum Wage Bill.

“Various amendments to labour laws will make it incredibly difficult to strike, it’s already quite difficult,” Craven said.

He said that the new labour bill making its way through parliament will include more rigorous requirements for pre-strike balloting and that this will be difficult for smaller unions with limited funds.

Craven added that the proposed amendments to the LRA will also allow for the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to intervene in strikes deemed to be lengthy and/or violent.

2. Minimum wage

Saftu objects to the R20 an hour minimum wage agreement, which was set to be implemented on 1 May but has since been postponed due to lengthy parliamentary processes.

“We want a living wage, we haven’t set a specific figure [but] we were very impressed with Marikana Lonmin workers who wanted R12 500. R20 is an insult to their memory,” Craven said.

The Parliamentary portfolio committee on labour said on Friday it will refer the National Minimum Wage Bill back to the labour department to be redrafted so that it includes public input received by the committee.

3. Nedlac membership

Craven said that the nationwide marches on Wednesday “are linked to the campaign to be recognised by Nedlac”.

Saftu remains in the cold, outside of Nedlac, the forum which negotiated the minimum wage and the labour law amendments between the three other union federations, government, business and the community sector.

Requirements for Nedlac membership include audited membership figures and financial statements.

Saftu maintains it does not have these yet as the federation was only formed a year ago and the admissions procedures at Nedlac are too onerous.

Who will not be part of the general strike?

Cosatu – the Congress of South African Trade Unions spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that while they agree with Saftu that the R20 per hour minimum wage is inadequate, it’s a starting point to improve workers’ lives and the figure is what the “South African economy could give us”.

Pamla added that the amendments to the LRA do not represent a dramatic change to the labour landscape as they were already provided for in the legislation, they just weren’t enforced.

At loggerheads since the formation of Saftu in April 2017, Pamla said that they have good working relations with the two other federations at Nedlac, Fedusa and Nactu and need to work with Saftu in the future.

Nactu – the National Council of Trade Unions general secretary Narius Moloto said that the federation believed that the minimum wage is “historic” as it will benefit 40% of workers, currently earning below R20 per hour.

With regard to amendments to the labour law, Moloto said they will not make embarking on strike action more difficult; “we don’t really understand what they’re protesting about”.

Fedusa (the Federation of Unions of South Africa) general secretary Dennis George said that the organisation won’t be joining the strike as the minimum wage was negotiated with government. He added that 4,5-million workers will be covered by the R20 per hour salary and this will be “a huge benefit to the country”.

Taxi strike causes commuter chaos

A major taxi strike is underway in Johannesburg this morning, causing chaos as commuters try to get to work.

Major transport routes – including the N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria at Allandale, the M1, N12 and the N3 – have been blocked. Traffic has ground to a halt, causing road users to be stranded in traffic jams backing up for kilometres.

According to EWN, drivers affiliated to South Africa National Taxi Council (Santaco) have gone on strike on Thursday morning after talks with SA Taxi Finance Holdings deadlocked. The association argues that the monthly instalments on the Toyota Quantums it uses are simply unaffordable at prime plus 10%.

People urged to stay at home
The Gauteng Education Department says it will be safer for parents to keep their children at home today. A number of large corporates in Johannesburg’s CBD have advised their employees to stay at home too.

Shots have been fired
There have been reports of gunshots fired as taxis congregated near the Mall of Africa at the Allandale Road off-ramp.

Costs for commuters
Commuters have taken to Twitter to voice their frustrations at being unable to get around the city. Aside from an inability to get to work and the financial implications of losing a day’s wage, people are also citing lost opportunities (such as job interviews) as well as the dangers of taking lifts from strangers to meet commitments (which could result in kidnap, rape or human trafficking).

Image credit: Traffic SA

COSATU has announced a one day national strike for all employees on Friday, 7 October 2016.

NEDLAC has confirmed that COSATU has complied with s77 of the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 (LRA) in serving the necessary notices on NEDLAC. The activities on 7 October 2016 will therefore constitute protected protest action and will not be a strike, despite COSATU calling it such.

Similarly, the activities on 7 October 2015 were called a national strike but were in fact protected protest action.

Section 77 of the LRA provides for “protest action to promote or defend socio-economic interests of workers” and covers a much larger scope of demands than those of mutual interest between employee and employer.

The demands that COSATU wishes to “fight for” are:
• “Demand the total banning of the labour brokers;
• Demand the scrapping of the e-tolling system including the expensive toll gates;
• Fight in defence of our Jobs and against retrenchments;
• Demand the implementation of the Legislated National Minimum Wage;
• Fight to defend and protect our Collective Bargaining Agreements;
• Fight for compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Standards in all workplaces;
• Fight for the implementation of the NHI;
• Fight for the scrapping of the Taxation Amendment Law; and
• Demand the implementation of Free Education.”

Any employee is entitled to participate in the protected protest action and may not be disciplined for being absent from work. Participating employees enjoy the same protection as in the case of a protected strike. However, the principle of no-work-no-pay will apply.

Any employee engaged in an essential service may not participate in the protest action. Employees in a maintenance service may participate if permitted by the agreement regulating the maintenance service.

It is not yet clear whether any of the non-COSATU unions will take part in the protest action organised by COSATU.
It is also not clear how widespread the protest action will be. Some of the COSATU regions have already indicated that they will support the project.

By Faan Coetzee and Samantha Coetzer, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top