The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said their efforts towards a living minimum wage would be broadened and intensified if their demands were not met – after the union’s members were violently kicked out of parliament where the matter was being discussed on Wednesday.
Saftu leaders clashed with parliamentary security officers after they were evicted from the portfolio meeting for staging a demonstration. The committee has been convened to ratify proposed amendments to labour laws, including the proposed national minimum wage of R20 per hour.
Saftu spokesperson Patrick Craven said: “Saftu says no to poverty pay and attacks on union rights. Already yesterday (Wednesday), workers in Cape Town peacefully demonstrated in the portfolio committee meeting, in support of the campaign [to scrap the minimum wage bill] and let the members of parliament know how strongly they feel. They were then violently ejected from the meeting by parliamentary security staff.
“This is just the beginning. We shall be seen again when the National Assembly and NCOP debate these bills and we shall be taking to the streets again, in ever increasing numbers.”
Saftu went on strike on April 25 and demanded that the National Minimum Wage Bill be scrapped and replaced with a new “living” minimum wage of R12 500 a month.
Craven said the last protest was a warning to the government and that “workers have had enough of supporting [the] ever increasing numbers of their unemployed families and neighbours, poverty pay, casualisation of labour, the job-loss bloodbath, the use of labour brokers, the VAT increase, restrictions on union rights and stubborn and ruthless bosses.
“It is time for the workers who create their nation’s wealth to rise up, to win back a rightful share of that wealth, which the Freedom Charter declared must be shared by all the people. It is time to challenge the dictatorship of white monopoly capital and bring power to the people.” he said.
Craven said the union is calling on workers to remain mobilised and if parliament does not scrap the bill, the union will intensify the strike.
“We have called on workers to consider two to three or more days of a total shutdown of the economy. We propose that this time, the working class as a whole will occupy all city centres and refuse to leave until the president and parliament agree to scrap all the current labour bills,” said Craven.
Saftu will meet again on Tuesday.