Anti-Jacob Zuma protesters outside the National Treasury offices in the Pretoria. Picture: Bongani Shilubane
Anti-Jacob Zuma protesters outside the National Treasury offices in the Pretoria. Picture: Bongani Shilubane

Unions reject Friday stayaways

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Apr 4, 2017

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Labour federations have rejected calls for workers to stay away from work on Friday in protest against the cabinet reshuffle, including the sacking of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

A campaign surfaced on social media at the weekend, calling on South Africans to take part in a national shutdown on April 7.

“Do not go to work, or to school or do anything unless you’re taking to the streets in protest,” read part of the campaign’s notice circulated in social media.

“Block highways, stand with your communities, go to political houses, go to prayer meetings, arrange your own marches. Do whatever you can to make your voice heard.”

At the centre of the campaign are calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down amid a socio-political crisis and anger at corruption and what many believe is preferential treatment given to the Gupta family.

This takes place against the backdrop of mass protests that are being organised by civil society groups and political parties, including a march by the DA to ANC headquarters on Friday.

Yesterday Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the labour federation did not support the national shutdown and the Friday mass protests.

“We are not comfortable with selective outrage... We deal with issues at our time, pace and ways,” Pamla said.

He said when Cosatu took to the streets, those now calling for protests sat and watched.

“The same people never come to support us when we raise issues affecting the workers and the poor,” Pamla said.

Zwelinzima Vavi, convener of the steering committee for the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), said they would not be part of the Friday shutdown.

“Nobody knows who made the call on workers to stay away from work. We don’t know whether it is agents provocateur, so there will be no shutdown,” he said.

“We are not part of it. It won’t happen.”

He said Saftu was calling for co-ordination of the planned mass protests that were organised by different organisations.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said it would decide today whether to participate in the Friday national protest.

General secretary Dennis George said Fedusa would not support any national shutdown or stayaway because that would undermine efforts to stimulate inclusive economic growth and employment creation.

“Fedusa remains highly concerned about these volatile and unstable developments in our country. We will not lose sight of the wellbeing of our members.

“Our decision regarding the planned mass peaceful protest actions on Friday will be guided by our independent, politically non-aligned stance towards any political party and a clear mandate from our members.” Hesaid Fedusa supported mass peaceful protest action, which included the carrying of placards, working with local communities, attending prayer meetings and lunch-hour picketing.

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