Daily News / 19 April 2018, 1:00pm / Latoya Newman
Durban - The SA Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) said plans are well underway for their national strike on April 25.
Durban Metro Police officials have confirmed that they’re expecting 3 000 people to march through the city centre on the day.
Union spokesman, Patrick Craven, said they have planned marches through all major cities, including in Durban.
“We’re expecting all our members to take to the streets, but we also hope non-members will join us as the issues we’re campaigning for affect all workers,” he said.
The protest is being called against a range of issues including the recent proposed amendments to the country’s labour laws, including the recent VAT increase, amendments to labour laws and the planned introduction of a minimum wage.
Craven said the proposed R20 an hour wage will do more harm than good.
“We’re not opposed to a national minimum. The principals are fine, but 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 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.
“A lot of workers are part-time or casual and end up working less than a 40 hour week. We want workers to be able to be paid a wage that is liveable. Also, a lot of employers may take workers off the street, people who, out of desperation for a job, will accept a lower rate.”
The union is also opposing a new clause on strike laws which effectively add more red tape to the process of organising a protected strike. “It is already very difficult to arrange a protected strike with all the provisions that we have to abide by currently. We believe the amendments that are before parliament will make it near impossible to organise a protected strike.”
The union recently made submissions on these matters to the parliamentary committee on labour.
The second largest of main trade unions in South Africa, SAFTU has 21 member unions with more than 700 000 across the country.
Metro Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Parboo Supersadh confirmed SAFTU’s application to march through Durban. “SAFTU applied to march from King Dinuzulu (Berea) Road to City Hall, along Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street . They are planning marches in all major cities. In Durban their application has been approved. We’re expecting around 3 000 participants on the day.”
Meanwhile, the National Employers Association of SA has alerted it’s members to the strike. In an email to members this week they advised that SAFTU had given notice of its intention to initiate the protest action on 25 April and that employees who wished to participate are entitled to do so.
“No disciplinary action for absenteeism may be instituted against such employees. The 'no work, no pay' rule will however be applicable.” they said.