8 March, 2012More than 200,000 workers dressed in yellow and red took to the streets in 32 city centres in South Africa in an extraordinary show of worker power against labour brokers.
SOUTH AFRICA: A general strike against e-tolling and labour brokers organised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on March 7, 2012 was a resounding success.
Addressing tens of thousands of people that gathered in Johannesburg, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the protest was not a march, but "an occupation of the city of Johannesburg by the workers". South African unions are resolved to bring an end to the use of labour brokers. "This is a class battle. This is a class war. Labour brokers do not create jobs - they destroy the agenda of decent work," said Vavi.
General Secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), Irvin Jim addressed thousands of strikers in East London in the Eastern Cape. "Decent work is a right. Labour brokering is just like slavery and is causing major problems for the working class," Jim said, "They are taking up jobs from us and I am raising my finger at them. We must take a firm stand and see them banned for good."
The strike was also organized to protest e-tolling, a toll road system that is being implemented in Gauteng province in April this year which Vavi called "a new apartheid" as the increased cost to travel would restrict people's movement, especially the poor working class.
Vavi warned that labour was prepared to take action again on the issue. "If they say they will go ahead with the tolling, we will take all the people here, and more, and put them on the highways of Joburg," he said. "If they insist we pay for public roads then, just as we made the apartheid system unworkable, we will make this system unworkable."
The protest against labour brokers and e-tolling had wide popular support and many civil society groups and ordinary South Africans spoke out in support of the strike.