Friday, October 07, 2016

Strike: COSATU Satisfied With Turnout
7 October 2016, 12:38pm
Amy Musgrave, Group Labour Editor

Johannesburg - Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets on Friday in support of Cosatu’s mass action campaign for decent work and improved public transport.

Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla told Independent Media that the federation was satisfied with the turnout and that workers were standing up for their rights.

The one-day strike, in support of International Decent Work Day, saw marches across the country.

All of Cosatu’s affiliates came out in support of the protest, including the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union, which said reports indicated that most of its members supported the strike.

In the Free State’s Phuthaditjhaba area, 93% of clothing workers at 21 factories stayed away from work.

“In what should be interpreted as a strong call for decent work, thousands of clothing workers in north-eastern Free State are out on strike today, shutting down the industry in that area,” the union said.

While Phuthaditjhaba is an important part of South Africa’s clothing manufacturing sector, almost all clothing workers are paid sub-minimum wages and work under deplorable conditions. The area is known for exploitation and sweatshops.

In Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, more than 2 000 clothing workers joined the strike

“Most of these workers toil in appalling sweatshop conditions, earning bitterly low wages. On International Decent Work Day today, they raise their voices strongly against poverty wages being paid by employers in Newcastle,” Sactwu said.

Pamla said that although the strike was protected, there were a number of instances where workers had been intimidated not to join the protest.

He said Cosatu’s legal team was looking into the matter.

However, on the whole, the federation was pleased.

“For us this is encouraging... and we are focusing on issues that affect workers. This is the start of rebuilding the radicalisation of workers and going forward we will see more of this,” he said.

The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that it has made a number of proposals on Cosatu’s demands to the relevant authorities.

It said it respected the rights of individuals or organisations to protest.

“We urge the organisers of the protest action to respect the right of non-protesting workers. We also urge them to make every effort to avoid violent protests that can lead to loss of life, and also damage to property,” Sacci said.

Workers tell why they’re taking part in the Cosatu strike

By TMG Digital -  October 7, 2016

Long commutes and long shifts. Short breaks and short-tempered customers. A selection of workers who will be taking part in Friday’s stay-away called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) shared their working conditions with TMG Digital.

A senior Johannesburg teacher‚ who works at a public school in Tembisa‚ Ekurhuleni‚ said it is hard to make ends meet with the salaries teachers are paid.

“I am one of those who complain about the salary because we work hard in very challenging conditions‚ mostly even on weekends and holidays‚ but there is nothing to take home. If teaching is honourable even the salary should be honourable‚” Tswatle Morena* said.

“It is difficult…After three days it is difficult to find a teacher with money. Teachers own nothing.”

Morena — who teaches various subjects‚ including English First Language‚ at Eqinisweni Secondary School‚ said he would march with thousands of union members in a one-day shut down protest by various Cosatu- affiliated unions on Friday.

According to information obtained from a salary rating website‚ a newly qualified educator and those with less than five-years experience earn R115 276 in South Africa‚ while those with five- to nine-years experience have salaries are rated at between R124 038 and R146 087 per annum. Teachers with 10-plus years of experience earn R146 088 or more per year.

“We are owned by the banks. The car I drive is not mine. The house I stay in is not mine. I wear debts. Everything is debts‚ that is the reason I am saying we don’t belong to ourselves‚ but to business‚” he said.

In addition to low salaries‚ teachers in some public schools are expected to teach more learners than the law requires.

“As a teacher I teach classes which are overcrowded. A class that was supposed to accommodate 35 learners ends up accommodating 55 and with no resources such as furniture‚ security in our schools leaves little to be desired‚ we are always at risk‚” Morena said. — Julia Madibogo
RETAIL WORKER: ‘What we get is not even peanuts’

A young worker at one of the retailers in Eastgate Shopping Centre‚ east of Johannesburg‚ related the difficulty of working in the retail sector for black people.

“The first problem I have with my job is the pay. I get paid R2400 a month for all the hard work I put in. I start my day at 9am and knock off at 7pm. All these hours it is hard work‚” said Thulani Mokoena.

He works at the cash desk‚ counting money and also receiving cash from customers. Mokoena joined the retail sector by default.

“It was not my choice of career. I was still trying to secure a space at varsity so I thought it would be good for me to work. But in the few months I have been there‚ I have had enough. I’m going back to school‚” he said.

Mokoena explained how every day‚ he has to count at least R500 000 in cash which he and his colleagues have made for the retailer.

“We know the company is making money but they are not paying us. What we get is not even peanuts. I would call it half of a peanut‚” he said.

While supervisors are known for unfairness at the store‚ it is the customers that are a big problem.

“Customers are rude‚ especially white people. Our supervisors always side with them. It is a really difficult environment to work in.”

The retailer has started its plans to prepare for the festive season where things get really hard for workers in retail.

“Our bosses have told us that we are going to finish working at 8pm and we are not going to get money for overtime. I can’t imagine what will happen during the festive season.”

Also in the retail sector is Michael Khuzwayo of the West Rand.

He works at one of the retailers in Rosebank. Khuzwayo’s day begins at 4am as he lives next to Krugersdorp.

“I have to leave home at 5.30am to make sure I am at work at 7 in the morning. We work 11 hours a day‚” he said.

His working conditions are not as bad as Mokoena’s but he says things are still tough.

“My body has been able to adjust to the morning and I am only tired when I get back home at 8pm.”

Mokoena‚ who has been working at the retailer for two years‚ earns R3600 a month but spends R1300 on transport alone. He is grateful for the opportunity because it has enabled him to support his mother and younger brother.

“Our working conditions are not as bad as I have heard people experience elsewhere. There are days‚ though‚ when customers would be having a bad day and they really take it out on you‚” he said.

A nurse working at one of the Durban’s biggest public hospitals told how difficult it is to get through an ordinary day for medical staff working in public facilities.

Abigail Mthethwa job starts at the labour ward theatre at 6.45am and works until 4pm or 6pm. She sometimes works a nightshift and most of the days she works longer than her scheduled shift.

“We work under difficult conditions. There are so many people that we have to help on just one shift. There are more patients than the number of medical staff available (can handle) on a day. We end up not having a lunch break‚” said Mthethwa.

Long hours and working without breaks takes a toll on the body‚ she said. The supervisors do not give anyone time to rest if they have been overworked for successive days.

“Sometimes I continue working feeling that I am doing this because my job is important and it involves people’s lives. If you go an extra mile‚ nobody feels for you and there is no compensation of any kind. When you work beyond your shift‚ the bosses tell you there is no overtime. There is no money. You just have to take that.”

Mthethwa lamented that‚ at this time of the year‚ the labour ward is particularly busy.

By the time she arrives home‚ she is tired and hardly has time to spend with her children.

“Our job is tough but delicate. We work while being tired and yet if we make the mistake we get sued. Nobody thinks in what conditions did you make that mistake‚” she said.

She is one of thousands of workers which the Cosatu will march in support of on Friday in a bid to improve their working lives.

– Penwell Dlamini

No comments: