May 27, 2005

Cosatu announces strikes in June

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has announced a nationwide strike on June 27 to protest against the "catastrophic loss of jobs and intolerably high levels of unemployment in the country", Cosatu Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said. He stressed that more than 10.000 jobs had been lost since January, and 30.000 more were under threat as companies continued to shed jobs, partly as a result of the strong rand. The unemployment rate in the country stood at 40% "if we count all those who want paid work".
According to Vavi, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) had declared a deadlock in negotiations between employers and unions. "In the next few days, Cosatu will submit notices that permit workers to embark on protected rolling mass action, including pickets, demonstrations and a series of stayaways. The first stayaway will be on June 27," he said. The June strike would then be followed by monthly protests until January 2006. These would include pickets and lunch-hour demonstration, in December action would peak, with a mass rally planned to coincide with Cosatu's 20th anniversary.
Vavi took a swipe at the ANC discussion document released last week, which proposes amendments to labour laws. "We reject suggestions that there is a link between the labour market and unemployment. The document suggests a dual economy requires dual labour laws. But separate labour laws for different groups will just entrench exclusion and inequality. "Cosatu will not let workers be pushed back into conditions where their rights depend on where they are from, their age or the size of their employer," he said. (The Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg)

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