Cosatu's Cape Town protest was so successful because e-tolling and labour brokers spoke to national concerns about poverty, the union federation said on Wednesday.
“It wasn't just Cosatu... They (all the non-Cosatu affiliated members here) are concerned about the deepening levels of poverty in our country. It (the country) has to work for everybody,” provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich told Sapa after marchers dispersed.
“The 20,000 people who came to the march was one of the biggest turn ups in a while,” he claimed.
The City of Cape Town said protesters had not caused disruptions.
“It was a remarkably well-behaved march,” spokeswoman Kylie Hatton said.
Informal traders had been advised to close their stalls on Wednesday as a previous march resulted in their merchandise being destroyed.
“We emptied the bins in case. It's a standard operating procedure. They are a favourite target to set alight or to topple over.”
Hatton disputed Ehrenreich's figure of 20,000 people, saying police, counting the number of people per square metre, arrived at a figure of 8500.
She said Ehrenreich originally applied for a march permit for 5000 people but then changed this figure to 20,000 later.
The Cape Chamber of Commerce also noted the orderly and peaceful protest.
Chamber president Michael Bagraim, who earlier accepted a memorandum outside the City Hall, said: “This is a great improvement on previous protests where there have been unpleasant incidents of violence and vandalism.
“I think the protest was much smaller than the one we were promised, and I’m sure this helped the marshals to maintain order. They did very well and I hope that we see good order like this in future protests.” - Sapa