Saturday, May 20, 2006


SA strike calls for job security.

Cosatu claims to have 1.8 million members. A strike by South Africa's biggest union alliance had a mixed response on Thursday, with some mines deserted but many businesses running normally. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is seeking the creation of decent, well-paid and secure jobs. Buses were set alight and stoned before dawn in Cape Town, but no violent incidents were reported elsewhere. Some rail services in Cape Town were suspended after arson on Wednesday, but other trains ran normally.

Unemployment officially 26%
Informal sector accounts for large number of jobs
Economic growth 5%
50% below poverty line

The ANC-union dispute

Some mines reported up to 100% stayaways, Chamber of Mines spokeswoman Elize Strydom told the South African Press Association. The Volkswagen vehicle assembly plant in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape also reported high absentee rates, and some stores of the large Pick 'n Pay supermarket chain were affected by the strike. Hospitals and the electricity utility Eskom were reported to be operating normally. Cosatu wants employers to stop using casual labour and outsourcing jobs, and is calling on retailers to develop local production rather than relying on imports.

Protest marches are planned for South Africa's main cities. However, Cape Town's city council banned a march planned there, after Tuesday's protest by striking security guards turned violent. Official figures suggest a quarter of all South Africans are unemployed, but some analysts put the figure at up to 40%. The African National Congress (ANC) is still in a formal alliance with the unions and the South African Communist Party (SACP), but rifts have been appearing for several years.



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