Marchers call for job security and a basic income grant

Picketers in PE mark 1 August as national day for working class action

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

3 August 2020

Over 100 workers from various sectors marched to the city hall in Port Elizabeth on Saturday to mark the 1 August as a national day for working class action. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Over 100 workers from various sectors of the economy marched through the streets of Port Elizabeth on Saturday to mark the 1 August as a national day for working class action. The group reiterated calls for a basic income grant, permanent jobs, water and land, and more personal protective equipment (PPE).

They also demanded protection for jobs on farms and blamed service delivery failures on the government.

This was one of several pickets held across the country by different civil society and advocacy groups, with the aim of highlighting shortfalls and failures by the state during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The march to the city hall was jointly organised by the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), EFF, Amandla Collective, Makukhanye Rural Movement, Assembly of the Unemployed and Labour and Community Media Forum.

Regional secretary of SAFTU, Mzikazi Nkata, also held a placard and shouted: “If we were not united as workers, there would have been more (Covid-19) deaths in South Africa.”

The marchers sang, whistled, and sat in the middle of busy Russell Road, holding up posters which read: “Give community health workers permanent jobs and a living wage” and “No more contracts”.

Nkata told the protesters: “If we close the road we must close it … They (drivers) must also be in solidarity with what we’re doing … and wait until we finish sitting for two minutes.” She also spoke of overcrowding at government clinics in townships, which made screening of suspected Covid-19 cases very difficult at small facilities.

Lindiwe Dumalisile, deputy secretary of Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union, said that many healthcare workers were not being given adequate PPE for Covid-19 duties.

By midday, the group outside the city hall dispersed without handing over a memorandum to City officials.