Hundreds converge on Burgers Park for the national shutdown

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Hundreds of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) affiliated members have converged on Burgers Park ahead of the planned national shutdown.

A truck carrying loudspeakers continues to play music, while union members clad in their union’s regalia sing struggle songs while busses ferrying demonstrators continue to drop off the marchers.

The two biggest labour federations have urged workers to join their march in their numbers, regardless of their union affiliation.

Demonstrators are marching against the high levels of unemployment, high fuel prices and the high cost of living.

Mugwena Maluleke, the General Secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), says the time has come for government to listen to the people.

He says the government is not doing enough to address the challenges faced by workers in the country.

Maluleke says government is quick to listen to businesses but slow to address the plight of the workers.

“We are therefore saying to our government, lead us, we have voted for you. If laws have got to be changed, they must be changed. If the SARB is able to intervene, it must do so. Because we cannot have a Reserve Bank that is a spectator,” he adds.

He has urged the government to help lessen the burden on the shoulders of its citizens.

“We cannot continue with these high costs of living … electricity, fuel and food prices have increased and our people are suffering,” adds Maluleke.

Cosatu’s first Deputy President, Mike Shingange, has criticized the government for reneging on the agreement wage increase for public servants.

“Workers are not responsible for intransigents of the government. The employees agreed and signed a wage agreement with the bona fide it deserves, and today they walk away. It cannot be the responsibility of the workers. It is a responsibility of the employer and that is why we are fighting,” adds Shingange.

Meanwhile, the heavy police contingent is leaving nothing to chance as they maintain a heavy presence in and around Burgers Park.