- Thousands of workers took part in the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) strike to protest the introduction of a new national minimum wage
- Numsa president Andrew Chirwa took a swipe at President Ramaphosa saying there was no new dawn and his administration was ‘the same wine in a different package’
- In addition to opposing the minimum wage, Saftu is also against amendments to the labour law which will make it harder for workers to strike
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) president Andrew Chirwa took a swipe at President Cyril Ramaphosa during the strike action organised by the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on Wednesday.
Addressing a crowd of supporters in Port Elizabeth, Chirwa said there was no new dawn. “The new dawn is R20 per hour, the new dawn is 15% VAT and the new dawn is that the right to strike will be taken away. Those who are confused about December, there is no new dawn. This is the same wine in different packaging,” he said.
Saftu and its affiliates embarked on nationwide strikes on Wednesday to protest the introduction of a national minimum wage of R20 per hour or roughly R3 500 per month. The federation is also unhappy with the proposed changes to the labour law which will make it much harder for workers to embark on legal strike action.
Briefly.co.za gathered that Chirwa did not pull any punches in his assessment of amendments to the labour law. He said the government was legalising poverty.
Chirwa said: “De Klerk and Botha never did this, but our own black government decided to legalise poverty. They don’t understand the pain, they don’t know that you can’t do anything with a R20. They are deliberately ignoring an apartheid wage gap, white people earn better than black people.”
“Any collective bargaining without a right to strike is collective begging it’s not bargaining. We have no weapon against the bosses. We have no guns against the bosses, we have nothing except the power to withdraw our labour. When you take that power away you are making us vulnerable to the already ruthless bosses who are sitting in boardrooms plotting how to exploit us better and how to keep our wages as low as possible,” he added.
Chirwa said those who swam in wealth were the same people who decided that R20 per hour was enough for workers, this was yet another thinly veiled attack on Ramaphosa, who personally negotiated a large part of the minimum wage.
Saftu believes the Labour Law Amendments Bill is a frontal assault on the constitutionally guaranteed right to strike and to bargain collectively”.
The introduction of the Labour Law Amendments Bill, which includes the minimum wage was originally planned for 1 May 2018 but has been pushed back because of incomplete Parliamentary processes.
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