Members of the country’s two largest unions put aside their differences, saying it would be all systems go in the country on Wednesday.

Federation of Trade Unions Kosat and South African Federation of Trade Unions (Safta) plan to shut down the economy to force the government to acknowledge the socio-economic crisis facing millions of South Africans.

It’s not about the numbers

Protests were held in different cities of nine provinces of the country.

Saftu General Secretary Tsvelinzima Vavi acknowledged that Wednesday’s national walkout demonstrations may not be the same as the mass protests of 2018.

“We don’t focus on the number of people. In reality we won’t see anything close to what we saw in 2018 because there are no trains in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“Taxis can support us, but they only take a few people at a time. We emphasize that workers should stay at home.”

No work, no salary: Govt

Employees in the essential services sector are prohibited from participating in protests during working hours on Wednesday.

The government says it will implement a “no work, no pay” policy for civil servants involved in the national work stoppage.

According to Cosatu, the strike was called under Section 77 “Socio-Economic Protests”, which means workers will be protected from joining the strike.

As a matter of law, no employer will intimidate or harass any worker who wants to join a strike.

But the Department of Public Service and Administration warned on Tuesday night that while the protests are protected by the Labor Relations Act, employees who are part of the core services are prohibited from participating in these protests during working hours.

READ ALSO: National shutdown: Here’s what you need to know

The purchasing power of workers is decreasing

In a Twitter feed, Vavi said the financial difficulties facing households are a powder keg as the purchasing power of workers’ wages continues to decline and unemployment continues to rise.

“The living conditions of the majority of the working class in this country have deteriorated and continue to deteriorate because we are at the crossroads of many crises created by capitalism and its leading servants in government ANC.”

Vavi says the reason for the growing disillusionment with the ANC and its capitalist allies is simply that the burden of this crisis is borne by working people, not the people who created it.

“The cost of a grocery basket has increased by 46.5% since December 2019 to R4,748 for a family of four.”

“Gasoline prices have reached unprecedented levels, with a liter of 93 unleaded petrol costing 26.31 rand in July, and while the price of Brent has fallen 30% since May from $130 a barrel to $91 a barrel, the price has only fallen marginally to 24.99 rand or 66% higher than in March,” Vavi said.

Plan your routes:

The Gauteng part of the demonstration is expected to start at Burgers Park in Pretoria and end at the Union Buildings.

Motorists are urged to take necessary precautions and avoid areas where the march will take place.

See here for a Interactive map of the National Shutdown

Additional report by Vhahangwele Nemakonde

READ ALSO: National blackout: Here are the routes and places to avoid

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