Thousands of South African workers marched across the country Thursday protesting against corruption, retrenchments, and high levels of unemployment.
“We want the reversal of budget cuts that have led to an unacceptable wage freeze in the public service,” Sizwe Pamla, a spokesman for main labor federation Cosatu which called for the protests, said Thursday.
In a statement, Pamla said they are also demanding the policymakers in the government and decision-makers in the private sector stop actions directed against workers. “Both the public and the private sectors have been blatantly undermining collective bargaining,” he said.
The labor federation rejected retrenchments in state-owned companies as the protests coincided with the World Day for Decent Work being marked on Oct. 7.
Workers dressed in red T-shirts chanted slogans and waved placards calling for decent jobs.
Thousands of people have lost jobs as the country continues to struggle with slow economic growth caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.
Cosatu said it is against the use of labor brokers and wants the private sector to abandon its investment strike that has seen many companies either hoarding or exporting cash out of the country, despite receiving generous incentives.
“This year billions were given away in tax cuts when that money could have been used to increase government spending,” the union said.
It added that rich companies were being given tax breaks instead of them bearing the burden of fixing the government’s balance sheet after decades of rising profits.
“Workers reject the current arrangement of a corporate welfare state that continues to take resources from the poor to support corporations without any set conditions,” the union said.