Thousands attend Cosatu protest in Durban

Kaveel Singh, News24

Durban – Thousands of demonstrators from across KwaZulu-Natal gathered in solidarity with workers' union Cosatu on Wednesday. The union embarked on a protest highlighting worker concerns and general issues facing South Africans.

The Durban demonstration, which began at Botha’s Park, saw affiliate unions as well as a small number of ANC members in attendance.

Gathering at 09:00, demonstrators sang struggle songs and chanted “Better lives for workers, better lives for South Africans”.

Speaking to News24, Cosatu provincial acting general secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, said the issues raised through the demonstration were more than just worker concerns.

“Yes, our priority is the working class. But we have highlighted a number of different issues including e-tolls, the energy crisis and our objection to a proposed increase in VAT,” he said.

No consultation on nuclear energy

Ntshalintshali said the union was particularly concerned with the proposal for nuclear energy.

“We find that there has been minimal public consultation, yet this proposal is worth trillions. Surely there are alternatives? We are also heavily opposed to e-tolls. We want to find a model to funnel monies into generating funds for roads maintenance. Not just throw the expense on to the average worker.”

Samwu provincial secretary, Nhlanhla Nyandeni, said: “What we are doing here today signifies a growing reality amongst South Africans.

“The issues we have brought up are real and there are many challenges ahead. The issues we bring up affects all South Africans, such as load shedding and job losses. We feel there is definitely good that the ANC has done for its workers and the people of the country. However, there is always room for improvement.”

Sactwu demonstrator, Wilson Mteshane, said that for him, the march represented “the fight the unions have against unfair labour practices”.

“This is about bringing us together to ensure our people are well taken care off at ground level. While we do expect to be taken care of by our employers, we also know we have to be fair to them."