South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) Secretary-General Zwelinzima Vavi says the issues underlying a SAMWU strike that caused major disruption in the Durban area, can be found all over South Africa.

He was addressing more than a thousand members of different SAFTU affiliate unions who marched to the Durban City Hall to mark Workers’ Day on Wednesday.

Vavi says workers are being oppressed by their employers because they are not united.

“All of the laws that are in the statute are as good as non-existing, they are not a reality of many workers. And so today, it is not what we saw in the city of Durban but this is happening all over South Africa. It’s happening everywhere else in the world; and that’s why one of the themes we want to advance during this May Day celebration is a theme of unity to build solidarity amongst themselves.”

SAFTU says employers continue to oppress employees because workers in the country aren’t united.

Vavi argues that many workers were exploited even on workers’ day and weren’t given time off.

He accused employers of not paying workers the minimum wage, before lashing out at government for not addressing the plight of the workers.

Meanwhile, the Socialist Revolutionary Worker’s Party says it has received SAFTU’s blessing to form a worker’s party, but Vavi disputes these claims. The federation also called for workers to embark on a two-day national shutdown on a date still to be announced.