Trade union federation, Cosatu has vowed that “The strike by the Umbhaba Estate workers will go down…as the longest strike ever held in a democratic South Africa.”
Speaking in a statement, the union affirmed that “The economy of the province will come to a complete halt” as a result of the protest action.
The federation’s plans to the protest were ignited after the management of Umbhaba Estate Farm dismissed 300 farm workers.
According to Cosatu, the farmworkers went on strike last year in protest over the farm management’s refusal to recognise the Food and Allied Workers’ Union “as the union of choice by the majority of the workforce”.
“It is totally unacceptable that after more than twenty years of the democratic breakthrough in South Africa, we still have employers who subject their workers to conditions of abject slavery, inhuman working conditions and barbaric treatment,” the trade union asserted in a statement.
Meanwhile, the federation has stated that it will ensure those responsible for the Lily Mine tragedy are held to account. The federation reiterated its commitment towards ensuring that justice is served following wide speculation that government and management of the mine have forgotten about the victims.
We will recall that early last month, three worker got trapped in the mine when the container they were in, plunged into a giant hole caused by rock fall at the Mpumalanga mine.
Ever since then, the victims Solomon Nyerende, Yvonne Mnisi and Pretty Nkambule have been trapped underground.
And for weeks, their devastated families kept vigil in the site, but relatives of two of the victims have now gone home and the situation grew worse after rescue operation declined further operation due to safety concerns.
Considering events unfolding after the tragedy, Cosatu member, Sizwe Pamla says the union suspects that mine management is holding back some relevant information regarding the collapse.
“An investigation must be carried out and those who were reckless and those who failed to adhere to health and safety standards should be held accountable. The fact that we’ve been barred twice makes us suspicious over what they don’t want us to find out,” the union said.
On the other hand, the union has called for a thorough investigation and appropriate action against business managers, who often tamper with their electricity connections, just to evade costly bills.
“It is criminal for mining companies to be retrenching people using electricity tariff hikes and the cost of doing business as an excuse, while they are also involved in electricity theft.”
“For a long time, electricity theft is treated as an act by poor people and vandals, when its actually big business that is stealing from the poor. Their blatant and criminal acts severely impact on government’s ability to deliver electricity and other badly needed services,” said COSATU’s national spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla.