Mar. 6 (GIN) – South African public service workers plan to occupy the streets country-wide to protest new road tolls and the use of labor brokers that lock workers into low wage temporary jobs.

Some 100,000 workers will join the protest, according to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), an umbrella labor group with over two million members.

“The combination of the proposed toll fees and spiraling increases in the price of food, fuel, electricity, transport costs and high interest rates heighten the anxiety of many people who are struggling to survive,” said Sarah Nicklin, a spokesperson for the Black Sash, a social justice group.

Other groups supporting this week’s action include the South African Democratic Nurses’ Union and the Treatment Action Campaign which declared “war” on labor broking.

The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa said: “Government and business must know that the future development of this country can never be on the basis of a race to the bottom by the working class in support of this backward primitive system of labor brokering.

“The ANC-led government must be about the fundamental transformation of the South Africa economy instead of trapping the country into perpetual brutal exploitation and marginalization of the working class and the poor.”

Government however appears to be digging in its heels. “This is a legal matter and Cabinet will not tolerate any disobedience to the law,” said cabinet member Jimmy Manyi. “If anyone is not obeying the law, then the law will take its course… People must not have any illusions … the tolls are a reality,” he said.

Drivers of e-tag vehicles will pay 30 cents a kilometer, down from 66 cents as originally planned.