Photo essay – Working Class Day of Action

Protester at the "Working Class Day of Action" in Johannesburg in 2020. Photo by Ramatamo Sehoai

Civil society, community-based organisations, trade unions and activists protested in major cities and towns around the country to demand better living and working conditions.

On Saturday, different organisations protested around the country to mark the start of a national campaign to build and connect community struggles against covid-19 and government austerity measures. Elitsha was there to document it.


The protest in Johannesburg was the biggest as the city’s CBD was awoken to a different environment of struggle songs as marchers chanted across Beyers Naudé Square to the provincial legislature.

The protest in Johannesburg was marked by a heavy police presence. Photo by Ramatamo Sehoai
One of the issues raised by the protesters in Johannesburg related to the delayed payment of the UIF TERS grant by the Department of Labour. Photo by Ramatamo Sehoai
Away from the Johannesburg CBD in Protea Glen in Soweto, protesters raised the issue of gender-based violence. Photo supplied

Eastern Cape/Dutywa/Port Elizabeth

The protests in the Eastern Cape were not only confined to the big towns of Makhanda (Grahamstown), Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth but people organised even in small rural towns like Dutywa, Cofimvaba and Sterkspruit.

One of the issues raised by the protesters in Dutywa was around service delivery. Photo supplied.
Community care workers joined in the protest in Dutywa to call for better working conditions. Photo supplied
The Young Nurses Indaba says that health workers should unite and speak in one voice to demand better working conditions under covid-19. Photo by Joseph Chirume
The protesters in Port Elizabeth also demanded a living wage of R12,500 per month, free basic services for the poor and an immediate end to corruption, both in government and in the private sector. Photo by Joseph Chirume

Cape Town/Western Cape

The protests in Cape Town were more decentralised, taking place in different townships and towns. There were protests in Witzenberg, Delft, Nyanga, Athlone, in the Cape Town city centre and Khayelitsha.

The protests in the city centre highlighted the impact of the pandemic on marginalised workers and on the housing and land crises. Photo supplied
The protests in Athlone called for an end to police brutality and repression. Photo by Mzi Velapi
In Nyanga, protesters raised issues of gender-based violence and police brutality. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Members of the community of Site B in Khayelitsha joined the protest. “Public order police, do your job, protect the people”; “Police must stop brutality #stopkillingprotesters”; “Men must come together to stop the killing of women and children”, read some of their boards. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe

Nomacebo Mbayo from Right2Know said they want to know how many people had been killed by law enforcement and the South African National Defense Force from the beginning of the lockdown period, and said that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele left that number out in his 2019/20 annual crime statistics. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
Also read:  Activists and union members march for Basic Income Grant

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