News ยป Durban

Chris Ndaliso
Senior journalist
2 minute read
18 Jun 2022
07:15

Cosatu members march against high cost of living

Chris Ndaliso

Government should address the issues of the cost of living to avoid political instability, the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Friday.

Government should address the issues of the cost of living to avoid political instability, the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Friday.

The union, its affiliates and alliance partners held a peaceful march against the high cost of living, fuel hikes, unemployment, poverty and poor wages.

The march moved from Curries Fountain at 9 am and the motorcade proceeded to Marine Building in Dorothy Nyembe Street, Durban, where a memorandum was handed to Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni.

On the sidelines of the march, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said the fuel hike meant an increase in every commodity. He said this meant that workers will be under tremendous pressure as these hikes did not come with salary increments.

Ntshalintshali said:

“There’s a lot that the government can do to mitigate the skyrocketing fuel price. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) we are the most expensive country when it comes to fuel prices. We are worse than our neighbouring countries like Lesotho who do not even have fuel reserves like ours.”

He said tax was the main cause of the fuel increases and a temporary measure would be tax reduction for a short period.

Asked if Cosatu was capable of forcing the government to be lenient with the working class and the poor given the union’s relationship with the ruling ANC, Ntshalintshali said the cost of living issues were more than the relationship between the alliance partners, as it was the people who are talking, who are feeling the pinch.

“If these issues are not addressed, they can lead to political instability. We opted for this peaceful march and this is a preparation for our planned October national march.

Ntshalintshali said:

“Imagine if the taxi industry, the trucking federation and all other formations came together and joined us in an event where we will be talking [with] one voice conveying the plight of the workers and the poor. That could have a much stronger impact than when we do things separately. Together we can achieve the desired results rather than working in silos.”

Since the announcement of the fuel hike at the end of May, the country, and KZN in particular, has seen a number of disruptions on the national roads, especially the N3 and N11 from Gauteng to Durban.

The Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business were very critical of trucks blockading the provincial trade route.

Chief executive of the Chamber, Melanie Veness, said this is criminal behaviour and economic sabotage, and those responsible need to be arrested. She said the business community was tired of the economy being used as a political football.