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South Africa: Unions prepare for national strike against corruption and retrenchments

21 September, 2017The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has called for a national strike on 27 September to protest “state capture”, corruption and retrenchments.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Southern African Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union (SACTWU), affiliated to COSATU and IndustriALL, will take part in the strike. 

South Africa’s Labour Relations Act allows for strikes on socio-economic and political issues such as corruption and retrenchments.

The “state capture” was based on a 2016 report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela who wrote that the state had been captured by private interests including those of business owners including the Gupta family. In the report, the Guptas were allegedly involved in the appointment of ministers and directors of state companies, and corruptly influenced the awarding of state contracts to favour their interests. Recently, a number of international companies, including Bell Pottinger and KPMG, were implicated in the corruption scandal.

Workers continued to lose jobs in mining especially with the recent announcement by Impala Platinum to retrench over 2 100 workers. According to StatsSA 32 000 mining jobs were lost in the last year. The garment and textile also lost 3000 jobs.

Said the NUM:

“The strike is a platform for workers to voice out their displeasure on how South Africa is run and that the looting of state resources and corrupt activities by a network of a certain predatory elite should be condemned. Workers are being left out in the cold to fend for themselves amidst massive retrenchments taking place in various sectors of the country's economy particularly mining”.

SACTWU’s demands during the strike included an end to outsourcing of work through labour brokers. Instead the union wanted more permanent jobs.

Said Fabian Nkomo, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa:

“We support the strike action by COSATU affiliates because corruption is theft. Money meant to benefit workers and society ends up in the bank accounts of corrupt individuals”.