Cosatu Prepares For Big National Strike

The Labour Federation said, unlike normal strikes, no physical protest action will take place. Instead, members are encouraged to stay at home or to attend socially distanced pickets in their communities.

The strike will be against corruption, job losses and gender-based violence. 

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), as well as the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), will also be taking place in the strike. 

Cosatu has previously made a request to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to investigate employers who had been accused of stealing payouts from their workers.

Payouts from the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) were intended to give support to employees who had been affected by the lockdown. However, Cosatu said this wasn't always the case. 

“The fund was not originally designed to help workers in a lockdown situation. So there was no infrastructure to pay workers individually. The money was sent to employers, who were expected to pay it out to the workers on their payroll. But when they got the money, often only 50% was actually paid to the workers, and rest was stolen,” said COSATU’s national spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla.

He said unions and government had reached an agreement to make sure employees received a text message specifying the amount they received in a TERS payout. However, this did not happen and some employers took advantage of this by stealing payouts. 

“As a result, the employers have a monopoly on information regarding how much they have received from the government...The government acknowledged this problem. But acknowledgement is not enough. We need concrete actions and the government is not willing to commit,”

Cosatu was also not impressed with reports about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the Auditor-General.

“We identified similar instances in the procurement of PPE in the education sector where the national and provincial departments are not procuring PPE at market-related prices,” 

The unions hope that government will take accountability for the looting of Covid-19 funds and its own failure to honor the wage agreement signed in 2018.

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