It’s August 24, the day given for a national shutdown by trade unions who are unimpressed with the current leadership and the persistent suffering among the people.
To have their grievances addressed, many groups are going on strike, and others are joining them in solidarity. So national shutdown looms.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) are embarking on a nationwide strike today, August 24, to protest the rising cost of living and the seeming indifference of the government to the plight of workers.
The strikers want several issues addressed by the government, including the fuel price gap. A couple of years back, the COSATU had proposed the introduction of a fuel price gap. Although the government agreed to look into it, it failed to do so. And workers are riled.
Another issue, and a pesky one, is load shedding. The striking unionists had put forward the “Eskom Social Compact” plan to address the situation. But it’s not yet been implemented.
Other issues of concern that have not been addressed and contributed to the planned national shutdown include the following.
- Xenophobia. South Africa has had sporadic cases of xenophobia, with dozens of lives lost. The xenophobic attacks had reportedly been stoked by a collective going by Operation Dudula and headed by Nhlanhla Lux.
According to the strikers, though, foreigners are not the problem per se. Therefore, they shouldn’t be the target of the local population. Instead, the government should be the target.
- The striking unionists also believe that private companies are engaging in an “investment strike” – making money in South Africa and then taking the same out of the country.
- The unionist also frowned at what they called “price gouging” by retailers, especially in the pharmaceutical and retail sector. Retailers, they say, are using inflation as n excuse to gouge prices.
Amid the strike, though, the Public Service and Administration Department (DPSA) has clarified that essential services workers are prohibited from participating in the nationwide strike. In other words, doctors and members of the armed forces, among others, cannot join in the strike.
The strike will hold in several provinces across South Africa simultaneously. Protesters at KwaZulu-Natal have Dinuzulu Park as their point of assembly, from where they would march to Durban City Hall and hand over a memo.
Tshwane protesters will converge at Burgers Park in Vander Walt Street and then march to the Union Building to hand over a memo to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Below are fliers with more details about the marches.