Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA

Johannesburg - The Congress of South African Trade Unions on Tuesday distanced itself from a planned national strike against a proposed minimum wage and amendments to labour laws.

Cosatu's rival, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said on Monday it would embark on a general strike on Wednesday over what it termed "the biggest attacks on working-class people, trade unions and the poor" since the end of apartheid.

Saftu has slammed a planned national minimum wage of R20 per hour or R3 500 a month and amendments to labour laws and is also angry over economic hardships facing workers and the poor.

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The federation said it would rally its affiliates and allies in civil society to demand "action to end the country’s crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality", and urged unions aligned to Cosatu to also join.

But Cosatu said it was concerned by "misleading statements" from some Saftu leaders over its participation.

"We want to make it clear that ... Cosatu is not part of the planned strike. We condemn the mischievous attempt to confuse our members by Saftu," it said in a statement.

"Cosatu supports the national minimum wage and we have no reason to strike over something that will benefit the workers."

The minimum wage will be a huge achievement that will see wages rise for the 47 percent of workers, or six million, who earn less than R20 an hour currently.  This represents the foundation that will help us built towards the goal of a living wage."

Cosatu said Wednesday's planned strike was based on "fabrication, misrepresentation and outlandish conspiracy theories".

African News Agency/ANA