Cosatu condemned what it called intransigent employers who are allegedly forcing employees to go to work instead of voting in general elections. Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Johannesburg - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Tuesday condemned what it called intransigent employers who are allegedly threatening workers and forcing them to go to work on Wednesday instead of voting in general elections.

South Africans will be heading to the polls for its sixth general election on Wednesday to elect a new government. President Cyril Ramaphosa officially declared election day 8 May as a public holiday, urging employers to encourage staff to use the day to exercise their right to vote.

But Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the union federation had noted with deep concern the numerous reports from workers that some employers were forcing them to go to work instead of voting. 

"We condemn all those intransigent employers who are victimising workers and reiterate our condemnation of the government's failure to declare elections day a non-trading holiday," Pamla said. 

"The federation is encouraging all workers who are being victimised to report to Cosatu offices and those of our affiliated trade unions."

Pamla said Cosatu was challenging Business Unity South Africa (Busa) to condemn all those businesses that are intimidating workers, saying that Busa should make a public statement to the effect that all workers have a right to vote on elections day.

In a statement, Busa called on business to do everything possible to encourage workers to exercise their right to vote.

"This is a constitutionally enshrined and hard-fought for right which we all cherish. For this reason, Busa appeals to businesses that are operating on the day to come to practical arrangements that will make it possible for employees who wish to vote on Wednesday to do so," it said.

"It is in this spirit that Busa urges all employers, including those that may it be our members, large and small, to ensure that they encourage workers to get to polling stations to cast their vote."

African News Agency (ANA)