Leaders from Cosatu, the ANC and SACP moved their seats into the sun at a May Day rally in Mthatha on Wednesday after restive workers demanded they come closer to the crowd. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Port Elizabeth - Hundreds of workers from different unions affiliated to Cosatu on Wednesday briefly disrupted a Workers' Day rally in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

The event turned to chaos shortly after the programme kicked off with the national anthem as workers demanded that the leadership of Cosatu, ANC and SACP come to sit among them in the scorching sun.

The political and union leaders obliged, leaving the covered stage and having their chairs and table moved onto the race track in the WSU stadium to be closer to the workers. After that, the programme proceeded smoothly.

The day's events had begun with a protest march from Mthatha General Hospital to the stadium and at the start of the rally, a memorandum with the workers' demands was read out.

Cosatu has called on workers to unite against the "common enemy" of capitalism. The trade union federation said government must end outsourcing services, including cleaning and catering. 

The memorandum was handed to officials from the labour department and Dr Thobile Mbengashe, the superintendent-general of the Eastern Cape health department.

African News Agency/ANA