The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has promised to take over the streets of South Africa on 1st March, as part of plans to show their disappointment about the new Tax laws Amendment Act. The union said it has mapped out vital and strategic plans, which would be used to compel president Zuma to reverse the new Act.
It is expected that the National Economic Development and Labour Caucus (Nedlac), Rosebank will host the officers, who would be concluding actions on the amendment laws. The union said that protest will begin in front of Nedlac office on Friday.
COSATU and its affiliates maintained that the pension legislation leaves workers with no choice, whether to choose or withdraw their savings in wads. Not only that, the reform law compels them to invest two-thirds of their income in annuities. Hence, the workers are demanding the freedom to control their retirement savings as they wish.
The new reform law is expected to be effective from 1st March. But in spite of that, the peaceful protest would be carried out on that same day, to portray unacceptability of the new reform. The federation stated that the Act has created an unwelcome relationship between the government and labour.
The union president Sdumo Dlamini said that the federation is not in any way challenging the president, but the legislative processes that cushioned him [Zuma] into okaying the amendment Act. Sdumo Dlamini said,
“If there was any blame, it was that which we have already been putting on parliamentarians who were sleeping on the wheel. We are not talking about the president but the people who passed the law and should have asked for the Nedlac report. The president would have been nowhere to be the deciding factor there. They are complicit.”
The union, which has over 1.9 million workers is expected to sit and deliberate on how best to achieve their aims. However, members of the union hope that it is not too late for the government to make a U-turn on the reform law.
Bheki Ntshalintshali, the Secretary General of the union told reporters that the union at various meetings had made their grievances known to the Treasury. Ntshalintshali expressed dismay on how the law was unilaterally enacted by the legislative arm of the government.
“The context of this struggle was located to be beyond just provident fund laws but to be a case of a classical neoliberalism offensive from a government that preaches austerity measures and expects workers to pay for the sins of others,” Ntshalintshali reiterated.
The African National Congress (ANC) has always fallen back on Cosatu during election rallies. But the union has totally condemned this new pension law. It also refuted claims that the new law would help guarantee better retirement for workers. Sdumo Dlamini said, “the SCEC reiterated its rejection of this law and called for it to be scrapped. The meeting rejected the myth that workers do not want to save but pointed out that they do not earn enough to save.”