South Africa experienced a national shutdown on Monday, organised by the political party in Parliament, the EFF. The EFF received support from a major independent workers’ trade union, the SA Federation of Trade Unions, as well as smaller political parties.
The national shutdown received widespread coverage in the media. The government ensured that the police, supported by the SANDF, were strategically placed at all the hot spots in South Africa.
According to news reports, the marches organised against many government policies in major cities received significant support. Opponents of the national shutdown cited the main reason for their opposition as the potential for the country to suffer a great economic loss.
As it was a national school holiday on Monday, high school pupils were not part of the march en masse. It would have been interesting to see the attendance of high school pupils if the strike were on a school day.
There is no doubt in my mind that unless the government addresses the main issues raised by the supporters of the national shutdown, we will face more of these strike actions in the future. The government will have to address the demands made by the striking organisations. Some of the demands are:
● A 10% wage increase
● An end to load shedding
● An end to austerity measures
● An end to rising electricity costs
Workers in South Africa know the hardship of losing one day’s salary. They can least afford it.
Here in the Western Cape, many of those in leadership positions have never experienced a loss of salary when the oppressed staged strikes during the apartheid era and lost their salaries.
I have never come across a situation where the government and business voluntarily raise the wages of workers. It always comes when labour threatens to strike. We all want the best for the people of South Africa. It is time that the government and business learn to share with the workers of South Africa.
* Brian Isaacs.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.