More money for workers and a tax on Clifton residents were among the demands coming out of Cosatu’s nationwide marches on Tuesday.
The overarching sentiment was that workers were being victimised by government and employers, and that unions were engaged in fighting unfair labour practices.
E-tolls, rolling blackouts, job security, the minimum wage, South Africa’s nuclear power deal, and a wealth tax all received a mention as Cosatu leaders led marches in Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town.
“We want more money. We work hard, but these employers cheat us. We want to get more money,” a 58-year-old machinist at a linen factory in Johannesburg said.
The mother of six said she earned R750 a week. She wanted at least R1 000.
Paulina Baloyi, 48, an assistant baker at Shoprite earning R500 a week, said she struggled to support her four children.
Her eldest child was selling vegetables on the street because she could not afford to send him to university. Her second child was in Grade 12 and unless she got a bursary, she would not get a tertiary education.
Baloyi hoped the march would help bring change in the workplace, which she described as hell.
“We are oppressed everyday by what the government is doing to us,” said Soweto resident, Mmusi Serobatse.
However, one demonstrator said there was give and take involved.
“While we do expect to be taken care of by our employers, we also know we have to be fair to them,” SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union member, Wilson Mteshane, said at the trade union federation’s Durban march.
Cosatu Western Cape general secretary Tony Ehrenreich told Cape Town marchers that government had to tax the rich: “We want them to tax the people who live in Clifton and Sea Point.”
In Johannesburg, SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande said government should not renew the licences of mining companies that retrenched workers.
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini told the ANC to stop focusing on its 2017 elective conference, and to rather turn its attention on the people being exploited by businesses.
The union federation’s Gauteng secretary, Dumisani Dakile, said the national minimum wage should start at R8 000 if businesses were serious about decent pay. News24