The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) is preparing to wield its enormous power later this month, by leading the proposed National Shutdown. The countrywide protest, supported by political institutions such as the EFF and PAC, threatens to bring Mzansi to its knees.
When will the next National Shutdown take place?
Wednesday 24 August has been scheduled as the date for mass industrial action. That’s just 12 days from now. SAFTU has over 800 000 members, and with many of these representatives expected to take part in direct strike action, South Africa will certainly find it difficult to function.
There have been a few attempts to create a National Shutdown in 2022, with only modest degrees of success to report. These proposals from SAFTU, however, appear to be the real deal. South Africans intending to commute, travel or work on the 24th are advised to plan ahead.
What demands are SAFTU making?
The organisation is marching under the tagline of ‘mobilise or starve’. For them, this National Shutdown really is a matter of life and death. SAFTU, like the rest of us, are outraged by the cost of living crisis. They are demanding a plan to reduce unemployment, and create a Basic Income Grant.
Their grievances don’t stop there…
SAFTU are upset by the cuts made to public services. They reject the ‘austerity measures’ enforced by government, and want to put an end to the privatisation of state entities. A full list of demands has since been published by the union, who request the following:
Jobs for the unemployed at a living wage, and a Basic Income Grant of R1 500 per person, to fight rampant poverty.
The lowering of food and electricity prices, as well as reduced interest rates.
Eskom’s board and CEO Andre de Ruyter must ‘step aside’, with no more privatisation of the utility.
Raise the minimum wage to R72 per hour.
End rampant crime and violence in SA, by arresting more perpetrators.
Create more climate jobs and invest in renewable energy.
Reverse budget cuts and increase spending in critical areas of service delivery.
Expand the public wage bill so teachers, nurses, police officers and the like can be paid more.
Will a National Shutdown actually change anything?
Trevor Shaku is a spokesperson for the trade union. He says a ‘civil war’ is being waged against workers, and he remains realistic about what a National Shutdown can actually achieve.
However, SAFTU believe that any movement which can mobilise the working classes of South Africa will ultimately prove to be successful…
“An undeclared civil war is being waged against the working class. The National Shutdown might not achieve anything concrete out of government, but it is aimed at achieving a first unity of working class formations in struggle. That unity will allow us to fight persistently.”