Durban - Trade union federation Cosatu says it will use Friday’s protest action in KwaZulu-Natal to raise the alarm over unfair fuel price increases and shockingly high food prices which are unaffordable for working-class and poor families.
The protest is expected to start at Curries Fountain Stadium in Durban from 10am.
Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said recent research reports showed that poverty levels were rising in different communities while wages remained low in the country, saying this was making life difficult for many working people.
He accused both the government and private sector bosses of being insensitive to the plight of the poor and working-class in the province and South Africa.
“We are sending a warning signal that we cannot take this, it is very difficult as some studies have shown that salaries and wages vanish within days after they have been paid,” Mkhize said.
He added that the decision by the government to renege on its wage agreement with unions in the public sector showed the low regard in which people were held.
The move by the government, Mkhize stressed, had also encouraged private sector bosses to be equally hard-nosed regarding calls for wage increases from workers.
The labour federation noted how the Covid-19 pandemic, the July riots and the recent floods had impacted negatively on poor people.
“There are many jobs that were lost in 2020 and last year, working men and women are battling to feed their families and now we have these fuel hikes that impact directly on food prices. People are drowning in poverty,” Mkhize said.
He pointed out that Friday’s protest was in line with the federation’s principle of defending workers and their salaries against high living costs, stressing that Cosatu’s stance would not change.
The federation is hoping that people will come out in numbers to join the protest as an indication that many people were affected by the rise in living costs.
A call for a national shutdown, over the fuel price hikes, last Friday had no impact with no protest action taking place across the country. However there were sporadic incidents of looting in the Durban CBD and an attempt to loot in Hammarsdale, west of Durban which was thwarted by taxi operators and law enforcement.