[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Cosatu protest news
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Thu Jul 17 05:48:03 BST 2008
Mpumalanga ground to a halt
Norman Mokoena, 16 July 2008
The economy of Mpumalanga ground to a complete halt as thousands of
COSATU members supported by SANCO, SACP, YCL, ANCYL and organizations of
Civil Society took to the streets in support of the COSATU’s call for
protected protest action against the electricity crisis.
Figures collected indicates that the mining sector was the hardest hit
with a 100 % stay away in the following operations: Delmas coal, Khutala
coal , Matla coal, Douglas colliery, Arnot colliery, Middelburg mine etc .
Most retail shops closed operations as marchers took over and painted
the towns red. Manufacturing and engineering operated on skeleton staff
but those close to towns closed completely. Transport ground to a
complete halt as bus companies refused to release buses and taxi
associations joined the strike in support of the COSATU demands, which
covered the increases in the prices of petrol. Vendors and hawkers could
not help but join the protest actions which they believe will help
respond to the challenge of high food prices .
In Witbank, in the main march led by the COSATU President, more than 18
000 workers braved the freezing weather and jammed the streets, traffic
officers left their duties and joined the march in plain clothes. More
police were added as the numbers that attended far surpassed the
estimated numbers by the organizers. It took the leadership more than
two hours negotiating with ESKOM to allow marchers inside the premises
as management was afraid that such large numbers would be difficult to
control and contain.
Today’s marches are a culmination of the protracted protest actions
embarked upon by COSATU members since April 2008 to put the electricity
crisis in the public discourse. COSATU members have demonstrated and
picketed in the malls, shopping complexes, retail shops etc. It is
COSATU’s belief that the cost of the power cuts must not be borne by the
poorest in society, and that workers should not be retrenched as a
result of the power cuts and that the electrification programme to poor
households should not be compromised.
COSATU further believes that if government had invested in electricity
in the late 1990s when it was warned to do so, the country would not be
experiencing this crisis. COSATU will oppose any job losses that may
result from the electricity crisis either directly or indirectly .
Estimated numbers to the different marches in the province are as
follows: Witbank 18000 people, Nkomazi 15000 people , Nelspruit 15000
people, KwaMhlanga 10 000 people, Secunda 12000 people, Ermelo 7000
people and Bushbuckridge 5000 people.
These actions are but a warm up to the National strike planned for 6
August 2008. We are delighted by the support we received, which is
beyond the traditional support base of COSATU. To us this is an
indication that COSATU is campaigning on issues that affects the poor
and majority of this country.
For more information please contact COSATU Mpumalanga Provincial
Secretary, Norman Mokoena at 0828036712
Free State and Northern Cape Solid
Andre Kriel, 16 July 2008
Report by the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union
(SACTWU) on support for today’s regional COSATU protest action against
the electricity crisis by clothing and textile workers in the Free State
and Northern Cape
Today sees COSATU’s campaign of rolling mass action against South
Africa’s continuing electricity crisis move to the Free State and
Northern Cape provinces.
The clothing and textile industry in these provinces have come to a
standstill with information available as at 11 am this morning
indicating that 77% of clothing and textile workers in these provinces
are participating in the protest action by staying away from work.
Last week saw 88% of clothing, textile and footwear workers in the
Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal participate in COSATU’s first day of
rolling mass action against the electricity crisis.
In the Free State, large companies such as Amica Fashions, Apple Jeans,
Manhood Clothing and Top Denim in Botshabelo and In Focus, Tradelink, SA
Cloth and Robin Clothing in Qwa Qwa reported full participation of
workers in the protest action.
Clothing and textile workers are the lowest paid in manufacturing, and
their budgets are already stretched thin by rising fuel, transport and
food prices. Increasing electricity prices will add to the difficulties
these workers are experiencing.
These statistics were generated by a company survey conducted by the SA
Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU), with information being
supplied by company employer representatives and/or shop stewards. The
survey covered 50 factories employing a total of 6,135 employees.
SACTWU'S combined membership in these two provinces is 6 916 members.
Issued by Andre Kriel, SACTWU Deputy General Secretary
If more information is required, contact Etienne Vlok on (021) 4474570.
YCLlogo20.jpg1.3 A Bloemfontein cadre’s report
Thabo Lekhu, 16 July 2008
It is with great pride that I should report to this forum the good news
about COSATU march against high electricity tariffs in Bloemfontein today.
The protest march was extremely well attended by all COSATU affiliates
from all corners of the Free State Province approximately more than 5000
Even for the first time the always not available to meet the workers
Premier of Free State Province was present to collect our progressive
memorandum presented by COSATU Provincial Chairperson and signed on
behalf of COSATU by CEC member Cde Crosby Moni.
This march was indeed a testimony to the workers commitment to resolve
the energy and food crises capitalism and lazy government managers are
subjecting the poorest of poor to.
This was further illuminated by the General Secretary of COSATU Cde
Zwelinzima Vavi during the electricity crises stakeholder summit on the
16 May 2008 when he said:
"South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world,
with extraordinarily high levels of poverty and unemployment. Any
solution to the electricity crisis must take these realities into
account. We cannot afford to give up our ideal of shared growth. We
cannot afford to add to the burdens already facing poor households,
whether through ludicrous increases in the price of electricity or
through higher joblessness as a result of poorly designed rationing. It
is now a known fact that the crisis is primarily a result of poor planning
We as communist will not rest on our laurels and allow our people be
subjected to this unnecessary economic turmoil.
We will replace them if they fail, all our deployees.
Thabo Lekhu, Motheo Region, Free State Province
Thousands march in support of Cosatu protest
16 July 2008, 18:11
Thousands of workers took to the streets in the Free State, Northern
Cape, and Mpumalanga on Wednesday in support of the Congress of SA Trade
Unions' (Cosatu) protest against rocketing food and electricity prices.
Marchers in Bloemfontein urged government not to let ordinary people pay
for its failure not to invest in power in the 1990s.
"We must not be the victims of this electricity crisis," said Bheki
Ntshalintshali, Cosatu deputy general secretary.
"We cannot afford the 27,5 percent increase in electricity," he told
protesters at the Lebohang building.
Further increases meant workers would suffer the most, especially if
employers started retrenching people.
He implicated President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka amongst those whose mistakes workers had to pay for.
"We are called to pay the cost for mistakes of others," he said.
In a memorandum handed to Free State premier Beatrice Marshoff, the
trade union federation demanded that the electrification programme to
poor households not be compromised.
Cosatu said the mining industry should also not be "sacrificed" in an
effort to manage the crisis.
Earlier on Wednesday, several hundred bus passengers were stranded at
the Central Park bus terminal in Bloemfontein's central business
district (CBD) due to drivers taking part in the one day stayaway.
All operations at the Beatrix gold mine of Gold Fields were affected by
the Cosatu action, while De Beers said there was no impact on three of
the four operations in the Northern Cape and Free State.
The Free State health department said only about 200 workers, out of
about 16 000, were absent from work.
Almost 80 percent of all clothing and textile workers in the Free State
and Northern Cape took part in the protest action, the Southern African
Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) said.
In Kimberley in the Northern Cape, about 2 000 workers marched through
Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi addressed the crowd at Eskom's
offices before the marchers moved to the buildings of the old Northern
Cape Legislature in Kimberley.
And in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, over a thousand workers heeded the call
Mpumalanga Cosatu spokesperson Raymond Mnguni said more than 60 percent
of businesses ground to a halt and many shops, factories and companies
closed for the day.
"Many production industries operated on skeleton staff," he said.
Memorandums were handed over to senior managers from Eskom and Sasol who
said they would take them to their bosses to find a way forward, said
The marches were considered by Cosatu to be a good build-up to a
national strike on August 6.
Meanwhile, Cosatu in the Western Cape has distanced itself from an email
doing the rounds suggesting that the province will be on strike on
Wednesday July 23.
"This email goes as far as threatening violence against those who may
defy this strike action," the union said.
However, no protest action was scheduled for the province that day, and
Cosatu did not condone violence or intimidatory tactics to coerce people
"We believe in our cause and given our support see no reason for such
tactics in any case," the federation said. - Sapa d
More information about the Debate-list