The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is mobilising its members ahead of a countrywide strike due to take place on October 7, the global Day for Decent Work.

In a fiery statement released on September 28, Cosatu, the largest trade union in South Africa with an estimated membership of 1.8 million workers, called on its members and all citizens to join the socio-economic strike.

“South Africa is teetering on the brink of collapse and it is about time we all stand up and demand urgent action from policymakers and decision-makers,” read the first paragraph of the statement.

The trade union listed several issues that have given rise to the strike, most notably a public service wage dispute – the sector in which majority of its workers are employed – job losses, gender-based violence, collective bargaining and mismanagement in government, especially its failure to deal with corruption.

“It is clear that the government expects our members to make sacrifices for an economic crisis that has been compounded by the looting and mismanagement in government, SOEs, and municipalities.

“The biggest huddle in fixing South Africa‚Äôs myriad of problems is the inefficiency of the state and the scourge of corruption.”

The alleged looting of the COVID-19 UIF TERS Fund and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procurement fund was highlighted by the trade union.

They say that many employers withheld the UIF money from workers in need, meaning that a lot families struggle to put food on the table.

While the PPE corruption tender allegations show ‘the depth of the problem’ and had fatal consequences as “more than 250 workers have lost their lives in the health sector as a result of inadequate provision of protective equipment.”

Cosatu praised the heroic efforts of frontline workers since the COVID-19 outbreak but lamented that the country’s economic system left many workers exposed, as they contracted the virus because of a lack of protection and “the systemic failure of the public transport system.”

According to the trade union, the failure of the public transport system reflects the failures of South Africa’s overall economic system and is a reminder that most citizens do not have access to reliable and affordable public transport, which in turn denies them access to important social services and health care.

“It is impossible to fix the serious economic challenges without dealing with the major problems such as transport in the country which is the lifeblood of the economy.”

Cosatu has called on its members to adhere to social distancing regulations when they take to the street on Wednesday, October 7.

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