EC joins nationwide Cosatu strike over job losses
Thousands of pupils were sent home, municipal offices were closed, refuse was not collected while businesses including big retail and clothing stores closed their doors for hours in the Eastern Cape as Cosatu-affiliated unions took to the streets on Wednesday.
Even some hawkers in Mthatha’s busiest streets, Madeira and York Road, dismantled their stands and went home early.
Thousands of workers in Mthatha, Komani and King William’s Town joined their national colleagues and marched against job losses and the planned restructuring of Eskom as part of Cosatu’s national strike.
Reacting to teachers abandoning their posts and joining the strike, the education department said the no work no pay principle would be implemented.
Provincial education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said they would implement the directive from DPSA.
An internal letter seen by the Dispatch that was sent to school principals by the province’s education labour relations director, Sihle Mnguni requested that principals and managers to keep copies of registers showing nonattendance.
But Sadtu general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke assured teachers on Monday when he called on them to join the strike that they would not be disciplined for skipping work.
“Workers are legally protected to go on strike with a strike certificate in terms of Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act,” he said.
On Wednesday, Sadtu branch secretary in Mqanduli, Wandile Ngceba confirmed they had informed schools in the area about the strike.
“We informed them that our members would report for duty in the morning but would have to be released by 10am so they can take part in the march.”
However, Sadtu provincial secretary Chris Mdingi said no such communication had come from the provincial office.
“We would never sabotage the mother body [Cosatu].”
There were also unconfirmed reports of teachers also sending pupils home in schools in Mdantsane and King Williams’ Town.
In Komani, municipal offices were closed, refuse was not collected and schools were closed as Cosatu-affiliates packed the Thobi Kula Indoor Sport Centre in Komani to listen to speeches.
They later marched to the Komani town hall where they handed a memorandum to the department of labour’s director Ntsikelelo Ramncwana.
Cosatu provincial educator Mkhawuleli Maleki said the schools, municipality and other non essential departments were closed.
“The teachers are here in numbers and schools are closed and the only people who are allowed to work are in life threatening departments. We have allowed skeleton staff in hospital theatres and maternity because we cannot compromise people’s lives,” he said.
“There are police here but not all police officers are here as that would have brought an early Christmas to criminals.”
One of the hawkers in Mthatha who dismantled his stand was Thabiso Sethobane, married father of two, who operates a stand in Madeira Street.
He told the Dispatch that they did not want to take any chances in case the marchers vandalised their stands.
“I am losing a lot of money not selling today,” he said.
OR Tambo District Chamber of Business president Vuyisile Ntlabati said while they supported the cause of the strike, the reality was that Mthatha businesses had been hit hard.
“Remember we just had this Samwu and Imatu strike at KSD municipality which left Mthatha filthy. Businesses suffered because customers shunned our businesses and now this.”
But South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union second deputy president and SACP central executive committee member Mike Tau, who address the Mthatha strike, said they were fighting to raise the plight of unemployment and job losses...