Cosatu: Govt failed to protect SA workforce from poverty, flaring inequality

As the world commemorates the global day for decent work, thousands of workers affiliated to Cosatu across the country have taken to the streets to urge government to do everything it can to stop the jobs crisis from turning into a social crisis.

Cosatu members marching in the Johannesburg CBD on Thursday, 7 October 2021. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday said while the COVID-19 pandemic had triggered one of the worst jobs crises, government failed to protect South Africa’s workforce from poverty and widening inequality.

As the world commemorates the global day for decent work, thousands of workers affiliated to Cosatu across the country have taken to the streets to urge government to do everything it can to stop the jobs crisis from turning into a social crisis.

In Gauteng, members have stopped working to express their disdain over wage freezes in the public service and private sector.

Speaking to a handful of protests, Cosatu’s Louisa Thipe said the impact of the pandemic would be felt for years to come, but it was workers who would bear the brunt as government entities continued to deteriorate.

“Besides cleaning up and rebuilding the state after state capture, we need to focus on fixing broken SOEs and freeze on retrenching workers and a commitment to creating new jobs are fundamental.”

Despite the alliance partner proclaiming its support for the African National Congress in the upcoming local government elections, provincial chairperson Amos Monyela said they didn't have to see eye-to-eye with the party when it came to issues of corruption, unemployment and wage disputes.

“We don’t agree with the ANC on many aspects and we shall fight for those. Amandla!”

The federation has handed over its second list of demands to the Minerals Council South Africa.

Meanwhile in the Western Cape, workers affiliated to Cosatu have also handed over a memorandum to the City of Cape Town at the Civic Centre.

Cosatu said workers in both the public and private sector were under siege, noting that unemployment had increased and was expected to rise.

Workers, who have come out in their numbers, are desperate for jobs and those who are employed are fighting for salary increases.

Two women they say they wanted an increase as food and other essential goods increased: “We want 8% because we work hard.”

The South African Communist Party’s Sonwabile Ngxiza said they wanted maximum action.

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