Mthatha Shuts down: Thousands set to march against wage proposal

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Operations in factories in major Eastern Cape towns including East London, Mthatha, Port Elizabeth and Queenstown are set for disruption today as thousands of union members are expected to stay away from work.

A file picture of Numsa members during a strike. Members have downed tools to protest over a proposed R20 per hour minimum wage Picture: GALLO IMAGES

The South African Federated Trade Union (Saftu) – whose affiliates include the second biggest trade union in South Africa, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) – resolved to down tools today, to protest over a proposed R20 per hour minimum wage.

Numsa, whose workers are based in listed companies including Mercedes-Benz SA and Volkswagen SA in Port Elizabeth, as well as AB53 bus company in Mthatha and Queenstown, has more than 40000 members in the Eastern Cape.

“It will be a total shutdown at MBSA, VW and Isuzu, as well as motor vehicle component supplying companies such as LEAR,” said Numsa provincial secretary Mziyanda Twani.

Marches have been organised in East London, Port Elizabeth, Queenstown and Mthatha today.

Twani said in Mthatha, affected sectors would include fuelling stations as many fuel pump attendants were Numsa members.

The East London leg of the protest will see thousands of workers marching from Buffalo City College to the Labour Department offices near University Fort Hare in Oxford Street.

MBSA was busy yesterday having discussions with affected union leaders to craft a plan to make up for the hours that would be lost due to the labour action.

Head of human resources Abey Kgotle said the company was aware of the Saftu strike. “Mercedes-Benz South Africa will engage with its representative union on its plans to recover lost production which may be as a result of [today’s] stay away,” said Kgotle.

The Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers’ Union (Demawu), a breakaway union from Cosatu-aligned Samwu, is to join in today’s action.

Demawu provincial coordinator Siphiwo Ndunyana said of the thousands of members they had recruited since the formation of the union late last year, more than 800 were from Buffalo City Metro (BCM).

“These workers will form part of these protest marches, and so operations in BCM will be affected one way or another,” said Ndunyana.

The federation will also take to the streets in major metros nationally such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Polokwane to protest the proposed wage offer.

Saftu has 24 affiliates under its banner, including the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu).

The national minimum wage was supposed to come into effect by next Tuesday (May 1), but it has been shelved as parliamentary processes considering public submissions on three bills that will give effect to the minimum wage are still under way.

Twani said their issue with the state was that the deal as it stands would mean that farm workers receive R11 an hour, domestic workers R15, and others a minimum of R20.

Numsa president Andrew Chirwa will lead the team of keynote speakers who have been deployed to rallies throughout the province.

South Africa’s NSFAS “millionaire” student speaks…

By Malibongwe Dayimani – August 30, 2017

The Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student who received a R14 million windfall instead of a R14 100 “food allowance” from NSFAS has spoken out.

For three months, from 1 June to 13 August she arguably became the richest full-time student in South Africa.

In a message to her friends today (Wednesday) – which followed the storm that came after reports of the “erroneous” payment made to her student account – she blamed NSFAS for the mistake. She claimed that she was the one who notified authorities.

“(They) allocated more money in a wrong account and that account happened to be mine. So I don’t deny anything…the money was loaded on the  1st june and reversed on the 13th August. But the question is how did it happen to be public news. The answer is still simply and right in front of us…(they) forget to mention one part that… I reported the matter to the authorities,” she said.

The student was credited with R14million “food allowance” three months ago and so far has spent R818 000 of the windfall. This means that she spent at least R10 900 per day over the period.

The student was meant to have receive a R14 100 allowance paid out in equal amounts over a 10 month period, for the year.

Instead she found herself an instant millionaire.

WSU spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo admitted that the student had “erroneously” received R14 million in her account and that a forensic investigation was underway.

“The funds were allocated to the student’s IntelliCard, which is the debit card administered by IntelliMali,” she said. Tukwayo said WSU management will meet with IntelliMali CEO Michael Ansell, this afternoon (Wed) to discuss the matter further and “probe how such an error could have occurred and go undetected over (the) period”.

The student’s account, said Tukwayo, has since been blocked and the remaining balance recovered.

“The student has been advised by the University that they will remain liable for the money that she has spent,” she said.

*This is a developing story. More details will be in tomorrow’s edition of the Dispatch.

South Africa’s NSFAS “millionaire” student speaks…

WSU bookstore burnt in violent student riots

A campus bookstore was looted and burnt in a night of student rioting and police counter-action at two Walter Sisulu University learning sites on Monday night.

Police fired rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades to disperse students who blockaded part of the N2 in front of the Nelson Mandela Drive site with burning tyres.

Walter Sisulu University

Heavily armed police were also kept busy at the Zamukulungisa site, where students allegedly looted and burnt a bookshop located on the premises.

University spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo said: “I can confirm that a bookstore located at Zamukulungisa site was looted and burnt by students.

“The costs of the damage have not been quantified yet as the campus is closed. Assessors’ safety cannot be guaranteed if they go in.”

Commenting on the burning of the bookshop, SRC president Sinelizwi Mantangayi said : “We suspect it is people from outside since they know that there is a protest.”

The students are protesting over National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) food allowances.

Tukwayo said the university had made arrangements with NSFAS to extend the deadline and allow the affected students a chance to sign their agreements.

“After a meeting with the SRC, a NSFAS delegation and management on Friday, the SRC called a mass meeting on Saturday to report back,” Tukwayo said.

“They tabled the resolutions and action plans.”

Tukwana said it was disappointing that despite the university’s attempts to bring the situation under control, students still behaved violently and destructively.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said a case of arson and damage to property was being investigated.

“No arrests have been made as yet,” he said.

The university closed both the Mthatha and Butterworth campuses last week amid student disruptions, mostly over NSFAS-related issues.