Cosatu declares public worker strike

2010-07-28 16:34

Johannesburg - Public service unions affiliated to trade federation Cosatu on Wednesday resolved to go on strike over wages.

"The unions met today (Wednesday)... we have now come to a firm conclusion to go on strike," Fikile Majola, general secretary of the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) told a media briefing in Johannesburg.

"We will serve government with a notice to strike today."

The unions, representing 56% of the 1.3 million public sector employees, included Nehawu, the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu), the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, the SA National Defence Union, the SA Medical Association, the SA State and Allied Workers Union and the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA.

As part of the preparations, the unions would embark on a build-up programme of pickets, marches and demonstrations, which would start when the seven-day strike notice period expired.

Two major marches would be held in Pretoria and Cape Town on August 10, said Majola.

"We will meet on Friday and come out with a specific programme of action on the pickets, marches and a full-blown strike."

The unions rejected the state's offer of a 6.5% wage increase, demanding 8.6% and a R1 000 housing subsidy.

The state showed no willingness to move from the 6.5% wage increase, R620 housing subsidy and the implementation date of July 1, said Majola.

The unions had initially demanded an 11% salary increase across the board and R1 650 housing subsidy backdated to April 1.

"During the negotiations our members were reading daily of government's wasteful expenditure on cars, hotels, parties and World Cup tickets, amounting to millions of rands.

"This was sending a wrong message because we were told that there was no money."

ANC intervention welcomed

The unions appreciated the country's economic difficulties and had a lot of patience during the wage negotiations.

"We have done our utmost best to avoid going on strike, even revising our earlier demand.

"We have reached a point where we feel we want to go on a full-blown strike," said Majola.

He said the impact of a public service strike was unlike any other strike because it affected everyone, especially the poor and most vulnerable, who were sorely dependant on government services for their daily survival.

"All government departments, including schools, home affairs offices, hospitals, traffic offices and the country's ports of entry, will be affected by the strike."

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said his union, representing 250 000 teachers, would participate in the strike regardless of its timing.

"We understand that schools were closed for some five weeks for the June holidays and the World Cup, but we have no choice. This is our last resort.

"There is no correct time to go on strike, even if it was in the beginning of the year it still would have impacted on the year-end results," said Maluleke.

Majola said Cosatu had not asked for a political intervention from the ruling ANC on the deadlock.

"We are not going to ask the ANC to intervene but their intervention would be welcomed."

He said the planned strike would be "worse than the 2007 public servants' strike, which was arguably the biggest ever in the sector".

The unions would meet Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi at his request in Centurion on Thursday afternoon.

"We do not know whether he will bring a new offer to the table or not, but we will listen to him," Majola said.

The unions committed to ensuring discipline and a peaceful strike action.

They emphasised that they were not part of the strike by the Public Servants Association, said to start on Thursday.

  - Sapa

  • Doped - 2010-07-28 16:46

    Cosatu and Govt are playing NANNY to the people who should be growing up to fish for themselves and fight their own battles like men. The people will remain children forever and get nowhere with nanny Vavi.

  • TheOne - 2010-07-28 17:01

    It makes me so sick, the refuse collectors, or the rubbish people as we like to call them now as a result of this, are ALWAYS on strike. I think government should consider getting rid of these lazy greedy selfish people once and for all.

  • jhm - 2010-07-28 17:05

    The Unions will not rest untill there is 1 million job losses Leeave them let them strike !!!!

  • JONO - 2010-07-28 17:08

    Again the country suffers due to POOR governance and self enriching unions. How will we move forward?????

  • Lesley - 2010-07-28 17:10

    Cosatu has no sense for calling a strike doesnt seem to worry about what the global investor thinks and how ordinary people are going to be infected as this might carry on for weeks or months. Its fine if the strike only lasts a day but I dont feel the government will be that quick to respond because the government doesnt have the money to give the raise they want. Not suprised if money flows out of sa again because at present sa is volatile and not safe to invest in so much for all the hope of the recent completed world cup. Another thing is that cosatu strikes are never peaceful as there are over a million people which are bound to cause chaos to normal members of the public.

  • webb - 2010-07-28 17:18

    The arrogance of Cosatu is staggering. Wanting an increase DOUBLE that of inflation is just mind blowing. In the same breath they demand greater employment. Just who will be employing additional people with these outrageous wage increases coupled with ever more draconian labour laws. Oh yes the government can and just tax more or spend less on actual delivery. The private sector can't be coerced that easily. As for the country?- that's greater government costs, less money for development and the private sector avoiding employing people at all costs. Mindless policies by a brainless tri-partate circus who run the country.

  • Tulani - 2010-07-28 17:25

    After our fat cat politicians have raided the pantry we only have stale crumbs to eat. Disillusioned ANC supporter

  • MK - 2010-07-28 17:27

    Please don't tell me they are going to trash our country again, intimidate non strikers (freedom of choice is so important to unionists until they have to recognise that others also have that freedom!!!. Strike by all means but practice restraint and discipline please. The pendulum of power in this country has swung too far in the favour of labour. This is not a situation that in fact favours anyone - equilibrium needs to be restored. In time our goverment will recognise this fact of life. How can there be agitation for higher than inflation increases (almost double) in an economy that is not producing jobs? There are more unemployed than there are union members!!!

  • Reinardt Bronkhorst - 2010-07-28 17:28

    No good time for teachers to strike...? December Holidays. Or maybe during the World Cup? How about striking when schools are closed? Ya thought not!

  • abri - 2010-07-28 18:09

    To all who are complaining about the demands'relation to inflation, inflation rates cannot be applied across the board because the bundle of commodities used by the "average" worker is much different from the total bundle from which the inflation rate is calculated. Studies have shown inflation on basic commodities needed by average workers to be closer to 11% than to the 8% that you are moaning about. And even if the demand is above that inflation (which it is not), can you seriously say that workers in SA have been paid enough historically? Get real please.

  • Renee - 2010-07-28 18:11

    Everybody wants more money. What about the recession? Most companies are still struggling to survive after the past two years battle of keeping afloat. What happens, more money means increase in commodity, therefore back to square one need more money. Start looking at salaries and bonusess of the top structure - start cutting there wasteful incomes and distribute to the lower salary categories. Everybody is fighting for a better future. What education are the children being provided with if this is what they are taught and can stay out of school for long periods due to strikes? Then come the end of the year and the Department scream with the high failure rate. Please take into consideration the disruptions cause.There are just no more ethics and pride in what people do.

  • Abri - 2010-07-28 18:15

    @Lesley..."normal members of the pulic"? Workers are the majority of the population...they are therefore more "normal" than anyone else. @Jono...again the country suffers from self enriching capitalists who want to drive down wages. The "country" you talk about happens to be populated by more workers than businessmen...therefore, if we had anything resembling democracy, these demands would have been resolved a long time ago. In fact we would run workplaces ourselves!

  • Leon - 2010-07-28 18:16

    "During the negotiations our members were reading daily of government's wasteful expenditure on cars, hotels, parties and World Cup tickets, amounting to millions of rands. Lead by example! As you sow so you shal reap!

  • Shorts - 2010-07-28 18:21

    Typical 'Strikers' Union attitude, As previously stated on numerous occasions, these guys and their ilk clearly demonstrate the fact that they really represent only themselves, and their own selfish interests, as today's PDI's [ Presently Dysfunctional Incumbents ]. Unfortunately the stark reality is that the ANC 'Government' is actually no different in its attitude, capabilities and general approach to the effective attention to, resolution of, commitment to and efficient delivery of all the actions needed in this country of ours to the benefit of all its inhabitants. There is no ways on earth, that, without a sibnificantly more realistic and committed change of mind & approach by all concerned, five million or so taxpayers can indefinitely support / meet the financial needs of a country with a reported population of over fifty million, which is itself growing larger by the day !!!!!!

  • Gore - 2010-07-28 18:29


  • Shorts - 2010-07-28 18:30

    Furthermore,in addition to my previously submitted comment, which may or may not be posted by the editorial okes, why don't these PDI's organise their ridiculous march on the public holiday of Monday, 9th August. No, it has to be on a working day so that they can create as much chaos / disruption / damage as possible, without themselves having any risk of losing any pay.

  • All Boneheads - 2010-07-28 18:41

    All off you that cry about strikes,do you have a wife that come home from a tiring day at school with 45 problem children in front of her, start marking books till after 12 and prepare for the next days work, thats the persons trying to make a better life for our future south african workforce. The Goverment has money to waste on their luxury stuff but when it comes to education ,one of the most important sectors in a country,they cannot or do not want to invest, I will toi toi with them till they get what they want, i suppose all of you that complain on this blog do not need to ask for a raise, you already recieved between 10 - 20%, you dont need to even fight for it, the government know more or less what the public sector will ask for but every year its the same story, no money

  • Brad - 2010-07-28 19:19

    I think its simple really.. You can't splurge on cars, hotels, worldcup tickets and more and then cry poverty. Government should be held accountable for that.. and who better than the workforce! Drag those fatcats into the street if you must!

  • Sean - 2010-07-28 19:36

    @Bonehead, do you realise that they are striking over a 2.1%? Do you realise that a no work, no principal applies? So if the strike is not settled in a short amount of time, they end up losing money! The only ones to win are the unions. As for the fat cat politicians, you are correct. But they were voted in by most who are striking! Another point, what gives them the right to destroy property as well as intimidate people who want no part in the strike? When you toi toi with them, will you be doing the same?

  • Mell - 2010-07-28 19:55

    The sad reality is that these workers do deserve more payment - but there is no money for so many workers.

  • JimB in Durban - 2010-07-28 20:14

    I agree with the feelings of many of the postings below. Thulani and Leon - many of us are now totally dissolutioned with the present Govt and need to show this in the Local Govt elections next year by voting for an alternative party. Renee - I agree that many of the problems in wage negotiations have been caused by "crazy" salary packages awarded to so called "Top Management" who fail to realise that the "worker output" is what creates the "profit" at the end of the day. However I think the real problem is the fact that both Govt and the Trade Unions are part of the Tri Partite Alliance which is governing this country - how can Govt set standards for "reasonable wage negotiations coupled to inflation" when their partner (Cosatu) is calling for much more?? My guess is that the "Alliance" has to split up as soon as possible before the Local Govt Elections to allow the electorate (you and I) to vote for what we want in the future. PS I am a Transnet "management" Pensioner who gets a 2% increase each year.

  • JimB in Durban - 2010-07-28 20:24

    To my last post - sorry I forgot to mention the most important factor. The "Work Ethic" (salary increases = productivity improvements) is totally missing in the Public Sector wage demands. Lets see a union guaranteed productivity improvement built into all wage agreements from now on!!

  • madondo - 2010-07-28 20:54

    This strike is all about politics and show of power. COSATU knows that our government cannot afford double inflation rate increase. Such increase will mean that infrastructural projects have to stop.

  • Just saying - 2010-07-28 21:30

    The government wants workers to strike so that they can use the money they do not have to pay to workers because of the no work no pay policy to subsidise the increase they will eventually give in to. This is a well known tactic. They use your own money to subsidise your increase, that's why they only paid the teachers their increases in November last year because all the teacher's unions accepted the offer on the table.

  • Liz - 2010-07-28 21:55

    Leaving another year of students in the lurch is not going to take the country forward. Try using your educated brains and voting the current party out of government and vote instead for one that does not waste tax money, but rather spends wisely with good results. Just compare the western Cape to the rest of the country and spot the difference. Then use your power of the vote and make a difference without hurting children's futures.

  • Bruce - 2010-07-28 22:53

    TheOne.... Aslong as you get your bonus you're happy hey? If the government gets rid of the people you call lazy greedy selfish people once and for all who's going to clean up after you? You won't do their job will you? Your pay will be to little and you won't get a bonus either!!!!! Put yourself in their positions with their pay and then we talk agian ok!

  • Pieter - 2010-07-28 23:02

    I wish they would declare all these stupid strikes illegal. We are in a recession, where does these guys think the money must come from? Fall from trees? How many people really want to strike? My theory is that if the unions do not instigate a strike each year it will seem to their members that they are not doing anything and the members will start to cancel. So does the people really wanna strike or is it the unions that tries to keep their paying members happy?

  • Teacher - 2010-07-28 23:35

    My wife is a teacher with a 4 year degree. She has 32 9 year old grade 3 kids to teach from 07h30 up to 13h30. (6 hours) She then coaches sport for another hour. (7 hours) and then marks books for another hour. Hey, that makes an 8 hour working day just like the rest of you. For the peanuts she gets paid she does one hell of a hard days work entertaining your brats. She has a German kid in her class who can hardly speak English; she has four kids on Ritalin, one in particular who swings under his desk like a monkey. She has a kid who wets her pants at least once a day and 2 who are totally dyslexic. In between all of this the other kids have to be stimulated and maintained while all along keeping her wits and composure. You know that she can’t just run off to the toilet like the rest of you can when nature calls. Can you imagine the chaos that will result with no supervision? (Remember, 32 9 year olds) She would just love to strike but won’t. She will be branded many things by you lot out there who expect their kids to get a good education. I think she deserves an increase, don't you? I rest my case.

  • DONT UNDERSTAND - 2010-07-29 03:53


  • J.J. - 2010-07-29 06:19

    Call FIFA and give them Vuvuzella's. We told the world everything is so perfect in our country during the World Cup. NOT, this is the reality.

  • @sean - 2010-07-29 06:49

    @sean, its not just 2.1%,its to get an extra 500 and extra on medical thats been the same for the last 2-5 years, and if you do your calculations, the 2.1 % ovet the next say 10 years,yes they will loose some money now but at the end its worth it, and next year it will happen again,the government won't have enough cause they need to buy tickets for RWC and other expensive treats

  • FEEL IT - 2010-07-29 07:10

    IT is HERE.These people strike because they want what was promised to them in return for their vote.As long as the fat cats and Vuzulemas are on the gravy train,STRIKE!STRIKE!STRIKE!

  • CTS - 2010-07-29 07:45

    What a strinking nation we are! Strike from work, strike each other and strike a match! Ironically this striking section of our nation accuses another section of being 'negative winers'! I wonder who's really negative? Wake up and realise that you're puppets in the hands of unintelligent hooligan-bullies!

  • Shrek - 2010-07-29 07:45

    I am not a fan of Unions, but in this case can you really blame the unions for striking. When the ministers spend millions on BMW's, SWC tickets, hotels, etc and the unions get told that there is no money.

  • Wern - 2010-07-29 07:48

    Municipal workers get 13 percent - way above inflation - ridiculous. Eskom workers blackmail the country during the World Cup. Why should we have these strikes. If the parties cannot agree get an independent body of judges to decide what is fair and equitable. Strikes should be banned. They benefit nobody and the public has had enough.

  • cruiser - 2010-07-29 07:51

    Unions are the single biggest problem this country has. They mean well, but undermine their own demands. You can not lower productiveness or keep it steady if you as South Africa want to progress and reach the very point of being in a position to improve workers work environments, rights and salaries. This is a natural law, you have to perform to survive and ONLY if you perform well, you'll be able to let your family and others survive too. The working class is false informed by these self righteous, manipulating and lying union farts, who think they are the shits and do good. They lack the understanding of realities we can not control. MAKE STRIKING ILLEGAL!! BECOME COMPETITIVE FIRST!! LEARN AND STRIVE TO IMPROVE EVERY DAY!! THEN YOU’LL SEE YOUR LIFE WILL IMPROVE TOO!! You want to be first world??? Then start acting like it... I say fire the lot, go through some rough times and give the jobs to people who actually want to work, serve and achieve the goals SA has for itself. There should be consequences for the Unions for undermining the running of a state! Government, show some balls and remove their power, it does nobody any good!!! Marks these words… another 10 years and the power of the unions will be halved, at what cost will be determined by how we deal with the imbalance of their power currently apparent.

  • Die Bongz - 2010-07-29 07:55

    The strike is instigated by PSA and Cosatu is joining in alliance. Does anyone know which demographics PSA represents? Anyone?

  • Monique - 2010-07-29 07:58

    If everyone else can strike and get there increases they demand, then why not the police ?? For example Eskom, look at the increases they got and house subsidy, who's life is more in danger Eskom or the police ????? I mean really, the police deserve there increases like everbody else, Government must stop spending money on there luxury life and start paying. Police were promised extra money for working during the World Cup, then all of a sudden Government said there is no money to pay them, because they spent the money on other things. I support them all the way to strike, because it looks like by striking is the only way to get increases. Just shows you how this country works.

  • @SEAN - 2010-07-29 08:04

    @sean, do you have a bond that youre paying off, it works the same, that 1.2 % does'nt mean anything to you now but work it out over 10 years then there's a difference of about 50000-00, so yes we will strike for 2.1%, thats not even the 500-00 we need extra for housing, where can you stay for R500-00,thats what we get, some of my african friends can't even rent a shack for that price, I don't think you guys relize how little teachers get payed, so yes there are a hell of a lot of them not doing there work but we that put our backs into it surely needs this raise

  • JudyB - 2010-07-29 08:11

    I wish I had a better idea for a solution on the government wage dispute. It sure would be easier to find one had the "cash strapped" government been acting 'cash strapped". I find it difficult to understand that there is no money to pay the hard working people on the ground while the same Gov happily affords the high life of senior public emplyees. Just look at how much they spend in hotel accomodation, the cars they drive, the number of wives and whores they get to have. They are the ones who get paid well enough to afford World Cup Tickets, yet they are allowed to use Gov funds to buy them. Look at how happy they are to turn a blind eye on corruption in their ranks. Do they really care about serving this nation? I do not think so. So Gov must at least pay the people who are doing some work.And if Gov refuses to do so, then public servants must force gov to do so. It is a pity that the very same people who put the senior Gov employees in the high positions are the same ones who will suffer the most during the strike. But maybe these poor people will learn to be less gullible in the future. Viva Strike Viva

  • Mickey - 2010-07-29 08:15

    I think the teachers should rethink their strike. It is so unfair on the pupils. The unions don't care - as long as they get their money. Teachers earn a good salary - and housing and medical. They get wonderful long holidays each year. And if there is a public holiday on the Tuesday - they also get the Monday off. They have all just been on a months holiday for heavens sake. Striking teachers should be fired.

  • JOE - 2010-07-29 08:19

    How can you argue with the workers when they see all the fat cats in Government and the parastatals getting fat bonuses, big cars, W/C 2010 tickets, etc etc etc and they are living on the breadline. The problem is it is us taxpayers who have to foot the bill for this ... Use your vote wisely is all I can say!!!

  • ARI - 2010-07-29 08:23


  • MP3 - 2010-07-29 09:03

    It's funny to read all you office bound airconditioned employees complain about the public sector and their wage increase demands when you no nothing of their suffering... Get a clue first...

  • Striker - 2010-07-29 11:47

    To Teacher, I fully agree with. My wife is a teacher as well and I can identify with the long hours that she puts in as well. Sadly all the people that work in the private sector and leave their ill mannered children at school for teachers to contend with, will claim moral high ground and slate the strike action. How many educators I know that cannot afford to own a home due to such paltry incomes. Can't wait for the upcoming local elections.

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