Cosatu vows to intensify strike action if government does not deliver on wage deal
Durban - COSATU has warned it plans to intensify strike action across the country if the government fails to honour its wage agreement.
It also said the move by the government could set a precedent which could see private employers impose the same conditions on employees.
Cosatu and its affiliates took to the streets of Durban yesterday, demanding the government honour its wage agreement. Workers also called for a tougher stance on corruption and gender-based violence in the country.
A few thousands workers marched through the CBD to hand over a memorandum of demands to KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala at the SAPS headquarters in Bram Fischer Road.
On Monday, Cosatu KZN vowed to bring the province to its knees. However, it failed to attract support for the strike.
The protests started at 11am and ended at 5pm.
There were several disruptions as members, who appeared to be inebriated, disrupted the speakers with singing and dancing. They jeered the speakers when they were reminded to observe the Covid-19 regulations by wearing masks at all times. Some were without masks.
There were also bouts of abuse hurled at the media by a provincial leader. Outside the police headquarters, members of the media pulled aside one of the union leaders to interview him.
This sparked an attack from a provincial leader who said the media should respect the union and stop “doing what they were doing” as this was a Cosatu event and the media were being disrespectful. The Mercury witnessed a heated exchange between this leader and a journalist.
South African Democratic Teachers Union provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza tried to intervene and calm the situation.
Cosatu second deputy president Louisa Thipe said the government could not be allowed to disregard the wage agreement. “We cannot allow for such a precedent to be set. It will impact the private sector as well,” she said.
She warned that should government fail to honour the wage agreement, it should brace for a wave of strikes.
Caluza, who was representing the SACP, said workers should not stand for the excuse that government has no money to pay the increases.
“If they say there is no money, they should explain where they are getting this money that is being stolen. They should not use Covid-19 as an excuse. There were rumblings that government was not going to pay the increase long before the virus arrived,” she said.
Provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said Cosatu expects the government to honour the salary increases.
”We are also demanding that the back pay be paid in full,” he said.
He said the government should also place a moratorium on retrenchments as there are already companies looking to abuse the Covid-19 crisis.
“We know that there are companies who are exploiting this opportunity to do something they have always wanted to do, to dismiss the workers. We know that in the CCMA, there are more then 113 cases from big companies trying to retrench their employees,” Mkhize said.
Zikalala accepted the memorandum and said he would engage with the union on its demands.