Explainer: What is behind South Africa’s union strikes?

by | Aug 24, 2022 | World

South Africa’s unions called for national strike due to power cuts, rising costs of living, and high unemployment levels.Thousands of people took to the streets of Pretoria in a strike on Wednesday to protest against worsening economic conditions.
The protest was organised by South Africa’s eight workers’ unions, which have called for a government intervention regarding the unemployment rates, rising poverty, and the high cost of living crisis.
Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller said the protesters marched towards the government buildings in the executive capital and handed over a memorandum to the authorities.
“The common theme amongst these unions is the high cost of living and how the working class specifically are struggling to survive in these economic conditions,” she said, speaking from Pretoria.
What is happening to the economy?
Inflation has been soaring worldwide, fuelled by supply chain disruptions after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, as well as surging energy and food prices following Russia’s war on Ukraine.
For South Africans, it has resulted in rising costs for necessities including food, electricity, fuel and medication, the government said.
According to a World Bank report, about 30.3 million South African citizens are living in poverty, while 13.8 million people are facing food scarcity that has been worsened by rising food prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
People are having a difficult time surviving, Miller said, as the economic conditions have not improved since the pandemic.
“South Africa has been plagued by rolling blackouts,” she said. “So not only do they want the cost of electricity specifically to be addressed, but they also want a stable electricity supply.”
How bad is the inflation rate in South Africa?
Inflation has accelerated to its highest level in 13 …

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