South Africa’s biggest labour federation will embark on a nationwide protest on Wednesday that will keep teachers, policemen, miners and workers at embattled power utility Eskom away from their posts amid a fourth day of rolling blackouts.
The National Union of Mineworkers — an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions that represents workers from the mining, energy and construction industries — is expecting more than 100 000 people to take part in the strikes, said NUM spokesman Luphert Chilwane. Cosatu has 1.6 million members and protests were due to start from 9am, while a second strike will be held in Cape Town on 19 February ahead of the presentation of the national budget by finance minister Tito Mboweni.
“I can tell you that the Eskom workers are very angry, so we are expecting thousands of them to take part in the strike,” said Chilwane. “Our expectations is that our members will come out in numbers because the NUM is the union most affected by the job losses.”
Eskom said it will cut 3GW of power from the South African grid from 8am until 11pm on Wednesday. Unions are also opposing a plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to separate the utility into three units, citing potential job losses.
“The national shutdown is under way,” Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said by phone. “Workers from all sectors of the economy in the private sector and public service are on board and we will be marching to the legislature and the Chamber of Mines.”
Cosatu is in an alliance with the ANC and the South African Communist Party. — Reported by Amogelang Mbatha, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP