Over three million workers in South Africa’s four largest trade union federations held a national strike on Wednesday of last week.
There is deep anger against the ANC government led by president Cyril Ramaphosa, the multi-millionaire and former trade union leader.
The main issues of the strike were job losses, wage cuts, government corruption, gender‑based violence and assaults on workers’ rights.
Coronavirus restrictions have hit South Africa hard. Between April and June some 2.2 million South Africans lost their jobs. And 30 percent of the workforce was unemployed before the pandemic.
The strike hit schools, manufacturing, metal firms, transport and carmakers.
Cosatu, the biggest federation, is again coming under pressure to break from its usual electoral backing for the ANC.
Its chair for Gauteng province, Amos Monyela, said, “Cabinet ministers who we elected are not fighting for workers.
“Those we elected do not want to deliver. We are saying we will indeed withhold our vote if we are not engaged in immediate discussions.”
The one-day strike is adding to other struggles.
Workers in the NUMSA union have been on an indefinite strike over pay for over a week on the Gautrain rail link between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Miners at De Beers, Exxaro and Petra Diamonds have also given notice of strikes.
“It is going to be a big, big fight,” said William Mabapa, NUM union chief negotiator.
“Food prices, fuel prices and general inflation have sky‑rocketed. There is just no room for peanuts increases and for that, we are prepared for war.”