Cosatu strike to cause nationwide disruption

Cosatu, South Africa’s largest trade union federation, is expecting its strike on 7 March to attract about 35,000 people in Cape Town alone, with approximately 100,000 across the country.

The strike has been called in protest against practices of labour brokers (employment agencies), which encourage low wages and slave-labour conditions, and against road tolls, or e-tolling as the new payment system is called.

32 marches are planned across the country including Durban and Port Elizabeth, with the two largest centres of protest in Johannesburg, which is interested in the e-toll issue in particular, and Cape Town.

E-tolling, to be operated as an open road tolling (ORT) system, is expected to start in Gauteng province on 30 April. Gauteng is the most densely populated and highly industrialised province in South Africa.

In Cape Town the governing Democratic Alliance (DA), which opposes e-tolling, has however declined to support the strike.

The march in Cape Town begins at 10.30 at Kaizergracht and continues to parliament. In Johannesburg the march starts at 10.00 at Library Gardens and continues to the Premiers office, the chamber of mines and the department of transport and roads.

The strike called by Cosatu, which represents 1.8 million workers, is expected to be one of the largest in the country for several years. The protest also has the support of some teachers’, mining, textile and nurses’ unions, as well as the South African Council of Churches.