Saftu planning two-day national shutdown in March

The South African Federation on Trade Unions is set to stage a two-day national shutdown early next year to protest against rising unemployment and economic hardships affecting the poor and the working class.

It will be supported by 147 community organisations who are "increasingly isolated by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise of a new dawn’", the federation's General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday.

The mass action will also see demonstrations in Cape Town on budget day. 

"The two-day general strike on 26-27 March will be a total shut-down and an occupation of cities and towns by the unemployed and the working poor," said Vavi.

The federation has rejected the recently approved National Minimum Wage Bill, which gives workers a minimum pay of R20 per hour or a monthly wage of about R3 500 for a 40-hour week. Saftu says the strike is meant to send a strong voice to government that "enough is enough".

According to Vavi, the onslaught on the poor was this year was worsened by the VAT increase from 14% to 15%, in the face of growing inequality, a jobs bloodbath and the related unemployment crisis.

The federation said the new dawn, promised by Ramaphosa when he took over as president in February, had not done anything to alleviate the plight of the poor and the working class.

Saftu also believes the Jobs Summit and Investment Summit called by Ramaphosa failed to live up to expectations, and were nothing but "talk shops".

"The investment summit saw companies coming up to confirm what they have already been doing. It was not real investment into the economy," said the federation’s Deputy General Secretary, Moleko Phakedi.

"The new dawn has given no hope to the working class. The conditions are getting worse by the day," he said.

In October, official statistics showed that unemployment rate increased to 27.5% at the end of third quarter, up from 27.2%.South Africa’s ailing economy came out of recession in the third quarter, after reporting 2.2% GDP growth.

The economy declined had 2.6% in the first quarter and by a further restated 0.4% in the second, piling pressure on Ramaphosa’s government to steer into better economic health.