Durban - Around 3 000 workers are expected to take to Durban’s streets on Wednesday as they protest against a number of issues, including a planned introduction of a minimum wage.
August Mbele, spokesperson for the SA Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) in KZN said workers from all regions across the province will bussed into the city for the strike.
“We will start assembling at Dinuzulu (Botha’s) Park from 9am. By 11am, we will proceed up Pixley Ka Seme Street (West) towards City Hall where we will hand over our memorandum to officials,” he said.
Durban Metro Police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersadh advised the public to avoid the march route until well after lunchtime.
“From Dinuzulu (Botha) Park in the Market area, up Pixley ka Seme (West Street) to Durban City Hall… We suggest people stay away from the protest route and the immediate intersecting routes in that area. You can expect congestion along these routes.”
Sewpersadh said normally when there is congestion along the main route of a protest, this extends to the roads immediately surrounding the route. “So you can expect delays in traffic until well after lunchtime. It is advisable to avoid the affected routes. Metro Police officers will be on standby to manage the process and monitor,” said Sewpersadh.
Mbele said they are expecting workers from all sectors to support the call for a strike, including teachers and nurses, as this is a protected strike.
Muzi Mahlambi, the spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education in KZN, said schools will operate as usual.
“We expect that schools will continue as normal tomorrow. We have had no indication - either verbal or written - from teachers unions of a mass strike. In such strike situations, there is a basic principle of no work, no pay that is generally understood. But we have had no indication of mass action by teachers.”
KZN's Health Department spokesperson, Mafunda Ncumisa, said healthcare workers are classified as essential services employees and are therefore expected to be at work.
The protest is being held as part of national call to strike by SAFTU - the second largest of main trade unions in South Africa, with 21 member unions and more than 700 000 members across the country.
The protest is aimed at a range of issues including the recent proposed amendments to the country’s labour laws, the recent VAT increase, and the planned introduction of a minimum wage.
In an interview last week Saftu's National Spokesman, Patrick Craven, said the proposed R20 an hour wage will do more harm than good. He said while the union was not opposed to a national minimum wage, it must be at a rate at which workers can live by. "To pass a law saying this rate should be R20 an hour is unacceptable,” he said.
Craven said the R20 an hour (R3 500 per month) rate may look attractive when it is calculated over 40 hours a week, but the reality is that the majority of workers do not accumulate that many hours, with many working casual hours and gathering less than a 40 hour week. "We want workers to be able to be paid a wage that is livable."