Public sector unions march to Parliament

The public sector unions are also demanding the permanent employment of casual workers in the public sector. Archive photo by Vincent Lali

The unions have given the government seven days to respond positively to their memorandum or face further strike action.

About 200 members of Sapu, Fedusa and Saftu marched to parliament to hand over a joint memorandum in Cape Town today. Wearing the different T-shirts of their unions, they sang struggle songs as they made their way through the city. The march was supposed to have taken place during the national strike action last month, coinciding with demonstrations in the other provinces, but had been postponed because of the violent taxi protest in the province.

“We demand 10 percent increase” and “Implement outstanding resolutions,” read some of the placards. Fedusa’s general secretary, Riefdah Ajam, said: “Workers have not received salary increases since 2020. We are gatvol. When will the government fill vacant posts? We will be back here if our demands are not met. Workers can no longer be subjected to poverty wages.”

Peter Ntsime, Sapu’s 2nd vice-president, said leaders forgot how workers dealt with the apartheid government after occupying seats in parliament. “We will deal with them in the same way we dealt with the apartheid government. We are asking for nothing but 10 percent salary increase.

“We are saying that we will be resolute until they change their minds and give us 10 percent salary increase,” said Ntsime.

The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) provincial secretary, Eveline Schaap said: “For how long must we suffer? Even their dogs have medical aids that we cannot afford. We are not going to tolerate it.”

“It can’t be in the name of workers that we accept 3 percent increase. If they are not adhering to our demands, let us take our blankets and lie here until they meet our demands,” said Conwe Flink, the provincial chairperson of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru).

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The public sector unions are demanding that the government stops attacking collective bargaining and implement resolutions, particularly the three-year wage agreement struck in the public sector bargaining council in 2018. The unions are calling for the “reversal of austerity measures” aimed at the public sector.

The workers said they are giving the government seven days to table a better offer, failing which they will continue mass action,” including total shut-down through withdrawal of labour.”

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