National minimum wage should start at R8 000 - Dumisani Dakile

COSATU Gauteng secretary says that while some workers continue to earn R1 000 per month you won't be able to end poverty

We are oppressed every day - Joburg marcher

Johannesburg - As a sea of people dressed in red occupied the streets of Johannesburg on Wednesday to make their voices heard about worker rights, some took the opportunity to vent their frustrations about government and their employers.   

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"We are oppressed everyday by what the government is doing to us," Mmusi Serobatse, a Soweto resident, told News24 as hundreds of Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), SA Communist Party (SACP) and SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) members marched. 

Other marches were being held across the country, including in Durban and Cape Town. 

Serobatse also took a dig at the controversial e-toll system in Gauteng. 

"We were never consulted about e-tolls and I refuse to pay," he said, adding that Premier David Makhura had "let Gauteng residents down".

Among the large crowd that sang, danced and held placards aloft was a 58-year-old machinist who works at a linen company in the city. 

The mother of six earns R750 a week and wants her employees to pay her at least R1 000.

Employers 'cheat' workers

"We want more money. We work hard but these employers cheat us. We want to get more money," she told News24. 

She said her eldest child worked and her youngest was still at school, but the other four were unemployed and still depended on her.

George Mokgotsi, who has been working at a retail store at the Eastgate Shopping Centre for eight years, vented his frustrations over labour brokers saying they were the reason he had never become a permanent employee.

He was classified as a part-time staffer and worked 40 hours a month.

"I am here to march against labour brokers. Before [them] people were employed permanently, now you work for six months or a year, you get fired and someone else comes in your place," Mokgotsi said. 

"More people need to be permanent because some of them are parents and have things like school fees to pay for."

Cosatu's Gauteng secretary, Dumisani Dakile, told News24 the national minimum wage should start at R8 000 if business really wanted workers to receive decent pay. 

"If you want to end poverty, but still have workers who earn R1 000, you can't talk about poverty eradication."

This article first appeared on News24 – see here