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The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) states it will embark on a nationwide protest on 24 February 2021.
As South Africa’s second-largest main trade union confederation, with 21 affiliated trade unions organising 800,000 workers—SAFTU will be rallying its members together in response to the economic challenges faced in the country.
In a media statement, the union says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly exposed South Africa’s inequalities, at a time our country was already falling apart. We in SAFTU will not just fold our arms while our economy crumbles, our communities suffer, and the future of our children stolen!”
Having given notice to NEDLAC of the strike, the union states, “This notice is what protects all workers who wish to participate in the strike. This means no employer may victimise or penalise any worker who chooses to participate in the strike whether those workers are members of a different union or not a member of any union. Every worker who chooses to participate in the strike has legal protection.”
With preparations in place, SAFTU encourages every worker in the country to observe a stay away from work on the day of the protest (24 February 2021). However, protest action is only expected in major cities.
Additionally, the trade federation has published a series of grievances they feel need to be addressed.
These complaints include:
- Overhauling the economy and build an egalitarian (be treated as equals) society. SAFTU elaborates, “Even before COVID-19, we faced an economic pandemic of soaring unemployment, grinding poverty and extreme inequality. South African capitalism restored its once-high profit rate through ANC’s policies of austerity, privatisation, relaxed exchange controls, export-led growth at all costs and environmental destruction. The system was, meanwhile, incapable of meeting even the most basic needs of its people.”
- Build a socialist democracy, where the economy is under common ownership, management and control of the working-class.
- Nationalise strategic monopoly industries, banks and mining houses, under democratic workers’ and community control and management, and re-nationalise ArcelorMittal and Sasol.
- Stop the widespread fraud linked to procurement and consultancy contracts and tenders (with their 35% overcharging) and employ public service workers directly rather than through outsourcing.
As SAFTU members prepare for the upcoming protest action, it seems the national strike will not impact heavily on Newcastle.
SAPS Corporate Communications and Liaison Officer, Lizzy Arumugam clarifies, “Newcastle Police have not received any information about protest action taking place.” However, she notes the SAPS will monitor the situation. Furthermore, the Newcastle branch of the National Security and Unqualified Workers’ Union (NASUWU) expressed it had not been invited to participate in the protest action. Therefore, they do not expect to take part in the strike.
While SAFTU braces itself to address economic change in SA, what are your thoughts on their demands? Share your opinions with us in the comment section below.