Cosatu on war path

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has vowed to bring the country to a standstill if the government does not intervene and stop the rocketing food prices within six weeks.

Cosatu is holding protest marches in several Western Cape cities tomorrow against high food prices.

"If after tomorrow's protests we see no turnaround in government's plan, we will shut down the economy on August 6," Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said in Cape Town yesterday.

The federation said it wants the government to immediately freeze all food prices and set up a national food price regulating authority to control increases in basic foods.

Ehrenreich said Cosatu was already working with the Competitions Commission to define retail prices for fish.

The federation has also called for an "immediate ban on charging import parity prices on locally produced food".

Import parity pricing happens when companies charge the same prices for produce whether it is sold locally or in Europe.

The Artisanal Fishers Association, which represents 3500 Cape fishermen, is joining Cosatu's strike.

"Import parity pricing means that South African consumers, who should be paying, say, R10 for one hake fish, instead pay the same price as consumers living in Europe," said the association's chairman, Andy Johnston.

Cosatu also said that Sasol should be nationalised so that its petrol can be sold at cost price.

"Sasol makes petrol from coal, which is cheap and abundant. Their petrol costs are half the price of that made from oil, yet they sell their petrol at the same price as companies who make petrol from oil," Ehrenreich said.