News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Friday August 23rd 2019

Cape Town strikes peaceful but effective

Nehawu provincial secretary Suraya Jawoodeen addresses about 100 striking workers outside Parliament on Friday. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso/WCN

Although marches by striking workers took place in the Cape Town city centre on Wednesday and Thursday, they were attended by only a hundred or so workers.

It was on Friday that the ongoing public servants strike started gathering momentum in the Western Cape.

By 10am workers gathered in pockets around the City centre as they picketed various government departments.

Although more peaceful than protests in other provinces, and less visible, a large percentage of union members – with Sadtu claiming 80 percent – stayed away from work, bringing departments such as Home Affairs and Labour to a virtual standstill.

Although largely unaffected on Wednesday and Thursday, major hospitals such as Groote Schuur, Tygerberg and Somerset shut down on Friday, treating only emergency cases only with a skeleton staff.

Nehawu provincial spokesperson Suraya Jawoodeen said District Hospitals in outlying areas were “shut down”.

At the Cape Town Labour department offices on Thursday, people trying to collect UIF cheques were frustrated as they were turned away after spending precious transport money to get to the city.

“It was chaos this morning as people were angry and crying” said a security guard who wanted to remain anonymous.

An administration clerk said the only 50 out of 200 staff were at the office on Thursday.

However, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Labour, Temba Gubula, said most labour centres were operating as normal excepting for the Cape Town, Bellville and Mitchell’s Plain offices.

Although groups of about 50 striking workers picketed outside Home Affairs offices this week, provincial Home Affairs spokesperson Lamla Makubalo said all offices remained open although they were not fully operational

Despite intensified picketing on Friday, he said offices would only close per instructions from the national department.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) WC provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said the strike was “successful” so far with over 80 percent of their members joining the strike.

Rustin said members were picketing at all 37 branches across the province from Oudtshoorn to Cape Town.

Cape Town Central police spokesperson Ezra October said no incidents of violence had been reported in relation to the strike.

“It’s peaceful and very small,” he said. – Yugendree Naidoo, West Cape News

Tags: capetown, Groote Schuur, nehawu, sadtu, saps, strike, tygerberg

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