Thousands Rally In Durban AND Jo'Burg Over Low Wages, Rising Costs

7/14/2011, 12:21 p.m.

July 12 (GIN) - South African workers displayed frustration with "poverty wages" in major rallies this week across the nation. They called on government to halt the trend of offering temporary work and shortened work contracts and the use of labor brokers who keep wages low while the cost of necessities is on the rise.

About 70,000 workers in the chemical sector started striking last Monday for a minimum monthly salary of $872 and a 40-hour workweek.

Congress of South African Trade Unions' General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told workers South Africa is facing a "major crisis" because of inequalities.

"Africans are living in poverty, with 58 percent earning a salary of $47 a month," said Vavi. "We are not enjoying the fruits of our democracy because we remain affiliated with a crisis of unemployment, with 36 percent of people unable to find job opportunities to work."

Food, housing, transportation and health care are nearly out of the working class' reach, union leader Simon Mofokeng told the marchers. He blamed capitalists for creating unhealthy competition among workers over the last decade.