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  • South African workers protest against corruption, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sep. 27, 2017.

    South African workers protest against corruption, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sep. 27, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 February 2019

South African workers seize the streets to protest against an unemployment rate of 27 percent.

The Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) called for a ‘National Day of Action’, aka a national strike on Feb. 13 in which both unionised and non-unionised workers are expected to embark on a massive protest across the country.

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The demonstrations seek to confront such socio-economic challenges as growing unemployment rate, increasing levels of job losses, outsourcing and privatization of public and private services, and state capture by corrupt officers.

"According to the latest Statistics SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey ... South Africa ended last year with an unemployment rate of 27 percent," Cosatu noted, adding that "corrupt activities had cost the South African Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at least US$1,9 billion annually as well as the loss of 76,000 jobs that would otherwise have been created." ​​​ 

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called on all its members in the mining, energy and construction sectors to participate in the COSATU marches to avert continuing job losses in South Africa, a country in which 40,000 workers in the mining sector have lost their jobs through retrenchments.

"Mines are closing operations on a daily basis. The government must immediately intervene in the mining sector to save workers from greedy mine owners who always leave workers high and dry after using them to up their dividends while working in horrible and unsafe conditions," NUM said and urged citizens to "fight against an economic system that does not create employment opportunities and increases inequality." 

Since 2018 President Cyril Ramaphosa has been implementing market-driven reforms, the latest of which is a plan to split Eskom, a state-owned power utility that produces over 90% of the country's energy. However, these neoliberal policies have not halted the country's economic crisis, which keeps 10 million people from getting jobs and over 17 million surviving on welfare. ​​​​​​​

"Only profound economic restructuring and the forging of new strategies for growth and development will solve these problems. We need a politically governed redistribution of wealth and opportunities from the formal to the non-formal sectors of the economy," Cosatu stated. 

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) is also joining the 'National Day Action' due to the job losses in the educational sector.

“I can only talk about the teachers. The teachers will be on strike, the teachers will be joining all other workers, all members of Cosatu on Wednesday,” Sadtu’s Nkosana Dolopi said, as reported by SABC.


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