Thousands joins Saftu march in Bloemfontein

Unions painted the streets of Bloemfontein red yesterday to march to the Department of Labour to hand over a memorandum to show their dissatisfaction at the proposed minimum wage of R20 per hour approved by government. Photo: Pierce van Heerden

Angry workers gathered in numbers in front of Batho Hall to show their dissatisfaction at the proposed minimum wage.
As part of a national shutdown by Saftu, workers from the Free State as well as the Northern Cape from unions such as National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), South African Federation of Trade Unions(Saftu) and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) arrived in buses to march from Batho Hall to the Department of Labour at 10:00 to hand over a memorandum stating their demands.

Photo: Pierce van Heerden

One of the demands was that wages should be raised from R3 500 to R12 500 since Marikana workers fought for R12 500 and died. Andile Zitho, Numsa Provincial Secretory, said that a minimum of R20 per day is unacceptable and that no individual can do anything with such little money. “The ideal would be R12 500 per month but R5 000 is acceptable,” he said.
One of the Nehawu members who participated in the strike said the reason for his participation is because of the proposed wages by the government. “It feels like the government is neglecting us by the wages and salaries we are receiving. It would be a privilege for us if the government considers us and allows us to support our families with a decent wage.”

Photo: Pierce van Heerden

Painted posters also showed how disappointed individuals were in the government and that they felt let down.
“The strike of today is allowed and we have the right to strike. We fought for this right years ago and without striking we will not be heard. We are not just striking for our own demands, but also for the future generations. Slavery wages should not even be considered and job security should come naturally,” Zitho said.
The march took place peacefully and, according to participants, could be seen as a success. Individuals are waiting to hear their fate.