At a Working Class Summit held in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Friday, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) and its allies in civil society took a decision to stage a national shutdown on Wednesday, 24 August that has been confirmed.
The decision to organise a stayaway came after a day-long summit of 500 people and 150 organisations, during which SAFTU, its affiliates, and its allies debated the critical conditions faced by working-class and poor people in South Africa.
What is meant with a “stayaway” – to succeed, SAFTU’s aim is to convince all the trade unions and trade union federations to motivate all employees to not work at all, for a complete and total shutdown of the economy.
SAFTU will confirm the exact time and venues for peaceful get togethers around the country at a later stage.
Among organised workers, there were members of NUMSA, the South African Police Union, the General Industries Workers’ Union of SA, and the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers.
According to a SAFTU statement, the summit aimed to assemble a fighting plan against:
Rising costs of living
Crime including GBV and killing of police officials, and
Climate change calamity.
SAFTU will submit a section 77 application notice to the labour court which, if successful, would mean that every worker in the country can participate in the shutdown without fear of disciplinary action being taken against them.
The action that the union calls for in the Section 77 (1)(d) notice is protected by law. This protection is given not just to members of the union or federation who lodged the notice at NEDLAC, but to all workers [essential services workers are governed by a separate set of laws] who are sympathetic to that cause.
What is Section 77? | NEDLAC
The intention of Section 77 of the LRA is to get parties to talk in the hope that disputes of a socio-economic nature can be resolved through social partner engagement.
To this end, parties are discouraged from using Section 77 and NEDLAC as a rubber stamp to get permission to strike.
Once the engagements have deadlocked, the Standing Committee makes a ruling that further engagements will serve no benefit to the parties.
The Standing Committee will, based on this decision, issue a Sec 77 (1)(c) notice to the applicants.
Should the applicants decide to engage in protest action, they must give a 14-day notice period in the form of a Section 77 (1)(d) notice which advises NEDLAC of the date of the protest.
This protest is then considered protected, and no employer may institute disciplinary action against any worker who chooses to join the action.
The rule of no-work-no-pay applies for workers who are taking the day off to join the protest action.
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