The Cosatu-led protest against labour broking and e-Tolling appears set to cause major disruption on Wednesday.
Cosatu says there will be a total of 32 marches across the country – from Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein to smaller towns like Lusikisiki, Sasolburg, Rustenburg and Mahikeng with the two largest strikes in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
“The other strikes will be just as important, these are simply the two biggest ones,” Cosatu’s Patrick Craven was reported as saying.
According to EWN, Craven said he expected a diverse group of marchers, “particularly in Johannesburg where the e-Tolling is a big issue”.
“We’re expecting all sorts of people who might not normally be involved in Cosatu’s protest action to be joining us on the streets on that day.”
He said Wednesday’s action will be a legally protected strike, and urged all Cosatu members to down tools.
Gauteng’s major march is set to start at 10am at the Library Gardens in the Joburg CBD and will proceed to Premiers Office, Chamber of Mines and Department of Transport and Roads.
Meanwhile, Cosatu Western Cape general secretary Tony Ehrenreich told reporters on Sunday afternoon that a planned march on Parliament across the Cape Town city centre would likely attract 30 000 people on the day.
“It will be one of the biggest strikes that has happened in the Western Cape for a long, long time,” he said during a media briefing at his organisation’s Salt River headquarters.
The march in Cape Town is set to start at 10.30am on Wednesday and will proceed from Kaizergracht to the gates of parliament where a memorandum will be handed over to the minister of labour.
“We think we’ll have about 30 000 people,” he said.
About 20 000 of these would be Cosatu members. A further 10 000 from civil society organisations and unions would also join in.
Ehrenreich said permission for the march to go ahead had been obtained from the City of Cape Town and arrangements made with the local traffic department as well as the SA Police Service.
Present at Sunday’s briefing were several civil society and non-governmental organisations as well as representatives from unions in the textile, nursing, education, mining and commercial sectors.
Responding to a question on whether teachers would be joining the march, Ehrenreich said: “There won’t be a lot of education happening on the day of the strike.”
“Kids and students are also welcome to march with. The matters we’re striking about also impact on the children,” Ehrenreich said.
Last week Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vav called the planned marches Cosatu boss “the biggest mass protest in years”.
Vavi said on Thursday: “We call on every South African to join this protest action, be they black or white, rich or poor.”
The National Union of Mineworkers (Num) has also urged its members to join protest action.
In its post national executive committee (NEC) statement, after its meeting held last week, the union said: “We remain convinced that the Cosatu position on rejecting the Gauteng tolling remains relevant and we will mobilise our members to join the march against the system.”
The NEC also lamented government’s intention to regulate labour brokers and appealed to the state to reconsider its position.
According to Fin24, economist Mike Schüssler estimated that a massive strike like the currently planned one, could cost the economy up to R8.2bn.
“At present any strike would cost SA economy R8.2bn if everything closed down as that is the value we add everyday,” Schüssler was quoted as saying.
“ As we do not close everything e.g. hospitals, petrol and at least some shops will be open the cost is likely to be a lot less. The problem is that the toll fees they are striking against also adds costs. Those costs also increase the cost of doing business and that hurts wealth creation and jobs too. We are in a double whammy.”
– Sapa, IOL