“We are ready Ramaphosa, we are ready,” sang a small group of workers outside Cosatu House in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, as they waited for the labour federation’s 15km march to begin.
Cosatu has bolstered its action by obtaining a Section 77 notice, which means all its members are free to strike today without repercussions from their employers.
The gathering is made up of the South African Communist Party (SACP), National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and other organisations. There are between 500 and 800 people here, with the crowd expected to grow.
— Mashadi Kekana (@mashadi_kekana) September 27, 2017
Thabo Malong, an official in Cosatu, said more members would be bussed in and picked up along the way as the march proceeded through Johannesburg’s city centre.
“We have a substantial number of people that will send the message today,” Malong said.
The federation, which has about 1.7-million members and is the largest in the country, is marching against state capture and retrenchments.
Along a pavement outside Cosatu House, the red caps and T-shirts of the union were being sold alongside yellow and green ANC regalia.
One Nehawu member, Neo Ramoupi, said he supported the action today because he is worried about his pension in the Public Investment Corporation amid rumours that the PIC was being targeted for “capture”.
— raeesa pather (@raediology) September 27, 2017
Malong said it was too early to judge the size of the crowd and Deliah, a Sadtu member who did not want to give her surname, agreed.
“There are more people on their way,” she said.
The march was set to begin at 10am where it would proceed to the City of Johannesburg offices, and then to major banks, the premier’s office and the department of labour.
The procession will also make a stop at the Chamber of Mines. At each building, a memorandum will be delivered.
The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union have ignored today’s Cosatu strike action, telling their members to continue work.