April 7 National Protest: While calls for a national protest grow in the wake of President Jacob Zuma’s controversial Cabinet reshuffle, the South African government has condemned the calls for the ‘illegal’ protests.
Nevertheless, if you insist on hitting the streets on Friday, you might need to talk it over with your boss, else he might come down on you like a ton of brick the next working day.
This is according to a directive issued recently by some companies and organizations in the country. In the said directive, employees who plan to protest against the cabinet reshuffle were reminded that Friday is a normal working day.
For instance, employees in Ethekwini municipality, on Tuesday, were warned by acting city manager‚ Philemon Mashoko that those who participate in the April 7 National Protest without authorized leave‚ would have to face the consequences of “no work‚ no pay”.
Michael Maeso‚ head of Employment and Pension Law at Shepstone & Wylie also reminded employees that they have no right to automatically leave work to participate in the proposed action on Friday.
Maeso warned that “Any absence from work that is not authorized by the employer constitutes misconduct and entitles the employer to take disciplinary action against the employee.”
He explained that the sanction varies but can include dismissal if the employer is able to show significant inconvenience caused as a result of the employee’s absence and/or if the absence was in defiance of an express instruction to attend work.
The pension law head said although the Labour Relations Act gave every employee who is not engaged in an essential service the right to take part in a protest action for the purpose of promoting the socio-economic interests of workers but that participation in a political rally may not qualify for this protection unless socio-economic interests of workers are affected.
Likewise, Multinational Unilever reminded employees on Tuesday that Friday is a “normal working day” regardless of the protests‚ aimed at demonstrating a show of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
A number of messages, dubbed “Black Monday”, calling for such a shutdown on Friday have been circulating since last week.
The message which went viral on social media said: “Do not go to work, or to school or do anything unless you’re taking to the streets in protest. Block highways, stand with your communities, go to political houses, go to prayer meetings, arrange your own marches. Do whatever you can to make your voice heard.”
At the center of the campaign are calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down amid a socio-political crisis and anger at corruption.
On Wednesday, the South African Police Service (SAPS) reportedly said it won’t protect those taking part in the Friday Shutdown March from ANC’s threats of violence.
The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) has also warned those who would participate in the April 7 National Protest that they’ll be attacked.
Consequent to the threats, the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced that the March for Change will now begin at the Westgate Transport Hub at 10h00 on Friday morning, and will end at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Johannesburg.