Cosatu calls solidarity strikes

Kingdom Mabuza, Ntwagae Seleka, Dan Fuphe, Canaan Mdletshe and Frank Maponya

Kingdom Mabuza, Ntwagae Seleka, Dan Fuphe, Canaan Mdletshe and Frank Maponya

South Africa should brace itself for a total shutdown of services by next Wednesday following a call by labour federation Cosatu yesterday to intensify the national strike with planned solidarity labour action by all its affiliates.

This means there will be no buses, taxis, or trains, no refuse collection in cities and townships, no production in the mines, no shopping, no work, no schooling and no healthcare services for the sick. Home Affairs, the courts and social services will grind to a halt.

The unions say they might prolong the strike should the government not make a new offer.

"All Cosatu affiliates will with immediate effect consult their members and discuss with their lawyers how they could embark on solidarity strikes.

"In this regard every union will work towards a complete strike on June 13," Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told journalists in Johannesburg yesterday.

Vavi called on the rest of the workers in all sectors of the economy to hold picket marches today in support of the 12percent wage increase demand by public servants.

l There was drama at the Vereeniging magistrates' court when people inside the building ran for cover on hearing that striking public servants were marching towards the building.

Workers and those who were at the court for various cases ran outside the court building into the streets.

Meanwhile, in another incident, angry Sadtu members marched to various schools in Vereeniging to remove working colleagues from their posts.

Other demonstrators protested outside the Vereeniging Home Affairs offices, vowing to disrupt services.

l More than 500 angry Sadtu members in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, yesterday took to the streets to stop fellow teachers from going to work.

Local Sadtu leader, Masondo Nkosi, told Sowetan that it was unfair for some teachers not to heed the call for a strike while they expected to benefit from the action.

l At least 21 nurses were injured and six rushed to private hospitals after police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse strikers at King George Hospital in Durban yesterday.

Five nurses were arrested when strikers pelted police with stones.

l Four picketers were arrested at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital for intimidating nurses who were on duty.

The hospital is the only one treating critical patients. The strike has also crippled services at McCord Hospital in the city.

Police spokesman Inspector Michael Reed said police warned the protester to disperse before opening fire.

Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban, was closed yesterday after striking public servants disrupted services.

l In Limpopo, the strike turned ugly following allegations of vandalism of property at hospitals and victimisation of non-striking workers by gun-wielding protesters who urged everyone to join the strike.