South Africa trade unions protest job losses, wage cuts

Country’s biggest unions urge members to stay away from work over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa's biggest trade union group calls strike
COSATU accuses policymakers of presiding over 'flagrant theft of taxpayer funds' after a spate of scandals [Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

South Africa’s biggest trade union group, COSATU, has urged members to stay away from work on Wednesday to protest job losses, wage curbs and corruption cases.

COSATU, which says it has more than one million members, is normally an ally of the governing African National Congress (ANC) but has criticised the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union federation said this week that the more than two million jobs lost in the second quarter was an indictment of the cabinet’s performance and accused policymakers of presiding over “flagrant theft of taxpayer funds” after a spate of scandals.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said his government is finalising an economic recovery plan to stimulate a rebound in employment and has promised tough action to deal with those implicated in corruption.

COSATU is also angry that the government did not raise civil servants’ salaries in April, as promised in a three-year wage deal struck in 2018 that the government now says is unaffordable.

COSATU is organising motorcades, pickets and marches across South Africa’s nine provinces.

Union leader Zingiswa Losi will deliver a memorandum to government offices in the administrative capital Pretoria, COSATU said on its Twitter account.

It was not immediately clear how many COSATU members had heeded the call to down tools on Wednesday.

COSATU’s affiliate unions represent workers in the public and private sectors, in professions like teaching, healthcare, the police and mining.

Source: Reuters