SAFTU calls on workers to mobilise and unify for a general strike

Above and above right: Demonstration by South African Federation of Trade Unions against jobs cuts and privatisation

‘SAFTU calls on the working class to mobilise and unify towards the Working Class Summit and the General Strike in August 2022.’

SAFTU said it is concerned by the rising prices of fuel, and the subsequent effects such fuel costs have on the costs of commuter transport.
‘Petrol prices have risen to unprecedented levels with a litre of 93 unleaded petrol costing R26,31. This litre of 93 unleaded petrol has increased in price by 52% since June 2021 and 72% since March 2020. Economists predicts the prices of fuel to reach a high of R40 per litre before they subside.
‘Even at the height of the economic crisis in 2007/08/09, fuel prices hit its high at only R10. Of course, the general rise in prices including the devaluation of the Rand, has contributed to high prices of goods and services cumulatively over the years.
‘In our statement dealing with Glencore price manipulations, we noted that prices are sometimes engineered to go up by the commodity traders. Commodity traders at times (if not often) hoard commodities and create the impression of shortage so that demand could exceed supply, and thus drive prices higher.
‘So, even though we recognise the pressures created by the war on the oil prices, we do not rule out the possibilities of price manipulations by commodity traders and monopoly corporations in the oil industry.
‘The average increase in the prices of petrol over the past decade have led to transport corporations and organisations increasing their transport prices. This has had and continue to have dire effects on the budget of the working-class households.
‘For instance, the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) reported that the total monthly cost of taxis as a mode of transport to work increased by R168 from R468 in 2013 to R636 in 2020. For buses, the transport increased by R158.
‘The NHT Survey further reported that it cost R110 more in 2020 (as compared to 2013) for households to pay bus and R23 more on taxis for transport to educational institutions.
‘In March 2022, the prices of transport began to climb due to the fuel price leapfrogging from R19.89 to R21.36. Having grown by 72% since March 2020, the prices have caused commuter transport to increase significantly.
‘In News24 report, National Taxi Alliance (NTA) said the prices of their transport will increase by 20 to 35%. In the same article, a commuter reports that a taxi between Greenville and Johannesburg has increased from R18 to R25. Some long-distance taxi associations have increased their prices by R20 and others by R50.
‘The Household Affordability Index for June 2022 reported that an estimated cost of return trip using a taxi to work costs R1,344 and consumes 34.5% of the wages of those workers earning the minimum wage of R23.19 per hour (R3,895 of those working 21 days/8 hours, and R4,080 of those working 22 days/8 hours)
‘SAFTU calls for a national shutdown in protest of the rising costs of living. This is a crisis of capitalism, and the working class must refuse to bear its burden.
‘Tied to this, is neoliberal policy which has destroyed the public transport systems of especially trains, and has condemned the working class to road transport which has unstable prices and has high probabilities of killing commuters.
‘The working class must fight for the government to reinvest into public transport system so that commuting from our homes to work and school will not be a burden clawing our meagre wages.
‘Further, SAFTU calls for the nationalisation of the refineries to ensure provision of fuel at a cheaper rate affordable to the working class.’
SAFTU (South African Federation of Trade Unions) strongly condemns the senseless and brutal shooting of people in taverns in Pietermaritzburg and Soweto.
These shootings have (so far) led to the deaths of 15 people in Soweto, four in Pietermaritzburg, and two in Katlehong, leaving a score of others injured.
‘A few days ago, we buried some of the 21 kids who died in mysterious circumstance at Enyobeni Tavern in East London. Before we could even know the cause of their deaths, another tragedy strikes again.
‘SAFTU extend its condolences to the families of the deceased, and wish those in hospital, speedy recoveries.
‘Though the motive for the shooting is not known thus far, the sheer violence in working class communities is horrifying. No motive for the random and indiscriminate shooting of people can ever be fathomable.
‘It is such instances of sheer violence that have become commonplace in our townships that are indicative of the path of hopelessness, lawlessness, crime, and destruction that South Africa has entered.
‘Crime and sheer violence spring directly out of the worsening socio-economic conditions in our country, Southern Africa, and the world over. This socio-economic crisis is reproduced by the political economy of capitalism, in which the hoarding of wealth by the 10% of the population has driven an overwhelming majority of working-class people into poverty. To survive, the pauperised masses of unemployed people resort to odious methods such as hijacking, robbery, etc.
‘The criminal syndicates which terrorise our townships with violence are primarily united by economic motives to secure the material conditions of life and uses violence as an accessory to their dominance.
‘Consequently, we continue to witness the ever-rising crime and violence which leads to 68 murders and 114 rapes (excluding the unrecorded rapes) daily in this country.
‘Unfortunately, the burden of these crimes and violence are borne by the working class people, not the capitalists who create conditions that produce and reproduce them through their capitalist system.’
SAFTU went on: ‘The only way out of this social crisis is for the working class to occupy the streets to demand a total overhaul of our economic policies that reproduce unemployment, poverty, inequalities, and corruption.
‘This is the reason we are calling for a total shut down – a general strike aimed at dealing with the structural fault lines that have condemned us to the conditions of loadshedding, swelling food prices, electricity, fuel prices, unemployment, and poverty.

  • The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) convened a South African Revenue Services (SARS) national meeting on Friday, 8th July 2022, to solicit views and pave a way forward on the wage negotiations impasse after the union had rejected the revised offer that was tabled by SARS.

The union had embarked on a strike on the 25th and 26th May 2022 and the intransigent Commissioner of SARS decided to mislead workers by paying them the performance bonuses that were due to them as if it was a new offer of the employer. SARS remained at their initial offer of 1.39% despite the fact that worker surpassed the projected revenue that was to be collected for the period 2021/2022.
‘As NEHAWU, we have tried to engage the institution since May 2022 and they remained stubborn with the 1.39% that is way below the inflation rate of 5.9 per cent currently. SARS rejected the tabled demands of our members which include the following:

  • Salaries be adjusted using October 2021 CPI of 5%+7%, across the board for employees within the Bargaining Unit.
  • A Single Term agreement and implementation date of 1st April 2022
  • On Medical Aid and Housing Allowance, full and equal medical aid and housing allowance for all employees.
  • An introduction of Pandemic leave of 10 working days per annum.
  • A R2,000 gift (token of appreciation) to all employees
  • Pay Progression – An annual adjustment upwards on the applicable pay band of 1.5% where the employee has met the required performance standard.

‘On the 3rd June 2022, a meeting was convened with SARS to push the employer on improving its offer, however that meeting did not yield any positive results. Instead, SARS made it categorically clear that the position tabled to NEHAWU on the 29th May 2022, has not changed and remains final.
‘The national union has since then been consulting its members through convening membership meetings, shop steward councils in all workplaces of SARS which culminated to the national meeting held on Friday 8th  July 2022 for a mandate on the way forward.
‘The national meeting upon receiving detailed and comprehensive reports, robustly deliberated and agreed on the following way forward with regards to the SARS wage negotiations impasse:

  • The union rejects the revised offer of 1.39%.
  • The national union will mobilise for a re-commencement of the full-blown strike across all SARS workplaces to take the fight to the intransigent employer.
  • We intensify the strike action.
  • The strike action re-commences on the 12th July 2022.

‘SARS has left us with no option other than to mobilise our mass power and take our battle to the streets. This is the only power that we have as workers in fighting unfair conditions of work.
‘We have been negotiating in good faith and with much patience. SARS has stalled and negotiated in bad faith.
‘It is for these reasons that as NEHAWU, we cannot delay the struggle to better the working conditions of our members and workers in general.
‘As NEHAWU, we shall do everything in our power to fight for these reasonable and achievable demands and rights of our members and workers at SARS.’