South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) continues to mount pressure on the South African government not to adopt the draconian anti-worker policies. On May 29, SAFTU held a protest outside the National Assembly, Cape Town as Parliament was expected to conclude debates on the minimum wage bill and amendments to other labour laws that will negatively impacts on the workers’ right to strike.
It must be remembered that on the 25th of April, SAFTU held a historical nationwide general strike against the proposed minimum wage of 20 Rand and the labour reforms that would affect the right to strike. The government has persisted with its plans to implement anti-worker policies despite the national outcry, according to SAFTU.
Yesterday, after a debate on the labour laws, the National Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed the bill on minimum wage and approved amendments on the right to strike. SAFTU regards these developments as an attack on the working class and poor, and the federation has been leading the calls for a living wage law.
They have consistently argued that the minimum wage of 20 Rands an hour will entrench poverty, and that the amendments to the right to strike will not only amount to a violation of the constitution but will cripple the collective bargaining power of unions and the working class in general.
Given that the constitutional process of adopting a bill into law is not complete (the bill must be tabled at the National Council of Provinces and signed by president), SAFTU has vowed to not despair but it has committed to mobilize the working class to withdraw its labour in protest of the ‘slave wages’.
“SAFTU will now take its campaign to new levels …” by hitting “the streets with even bigger marches and stay-aways, to protest not only against these laws, but against all the assaults on our living standards and job security …” read SAFTU press statement.
SAFTU has expressed strong intentions to shutdown the country in protest for three days, as it did on the 25th of April, until the government take the demands of workers seriously.
For SAFTU, government has shielded the capitalist class from paying corporate tax and has allowed it to get away with slave wages. “Company CEOs who earn millions of rands demand that workers, whose labour creates their exorbitant wealth, must continue to toil for an hour to earn what they earn in a couple of seconds”, this, SAFTU believes will firmly entrench inequality in South Africa. As it stands “an average pay of CEOs in the country’s top 100 companies is R17.97 million a year, which amounts to R69,000 a day and R8,625 an hour”, according to SAFTU. Expecting workers to survive on 11, 15, 16 and 20 rands an hour is not fair and just. Thus SAFTU, will continue to increase pressure until workers are able to earn a dignified wage.