A number of labor unions including GIWUSA (General Industries Workers Union South Africa) and CEPPWAWU (Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union) met at the Worker’s Library in the central business district for a march and strike demonstration. The workers then marched through the streets to the Chamber of Mines, where they participated in a strike rally.
The unions’ demands included an increase in workers’ monthly salaries, a ban on labor brokers and permanent positions for workers instead of temporary contracts. The workers and union representatives marched to the Chamber of Mines to deliver a memorandum containing their demands to employer representatives.
Before the memorandum was officially delivered, the crowd of hundreds of workers and other onlookers gathered in the public square at the Chamber of Mines for a rally that was more akin to a lively protest one would witness in America, than a labor strike. Union representatives spoke to the crowd about the workers’ plight and exploitations, and the reasons behind their demands.
Eventually, the crowd broke out into toyi toyi: a series of chants, singing, and dancing. The management representatives signed the memorandum, but it remains unclear whether or not all of the unions’ demands will be met.
The members of management retreated into their office buildings while the crowd of workers collectively voiced criticisms against them. The toyi toyi continued for a short while. Afterwards, the crowd quickly dispersed, and the public square and surrounding streets were once again empty except for a mess of union strike posters and orange peels strewn across the ground.
“The employer and the employee relationship has got to be considered,” said Collen Nembambula, a worker affiliated with GIWUSA. “We do not want manipulation of the workers’ rights. We want the resources of our country to be shared equally. “