|[Published: Wednesday July 09 2008]
S Africa unionistsprotest fuel price
Pretoria , 10 July-(ANA)- Trade unionists in South Africa have been taking to the streets toprotest at the rising costs of fuel and food.
The day of actionin Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape provinceswas organised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Cosatu plans tostage two more protests in other provinces before organising a nationwidewalkout in August.
Unions complainthat high energy costs and unemployment are exacerbating poverty and pushing upfood prices.
The rising costsof fuel and food around the world have hit home in South Africa as well, but theunions insist the government could do more to help alleviate the suffering ofthe country's poor.
Cosatu spokesmanPatrick Craven said that the imposition of a 27.5% fuel tariff on 1 July washitting those who could least afford it.
"Our mainconcern today will be a demand that workers and poor consumers will not sufferfrom the huge problems we have with electricity supply at the moment," hesaid.
The governmentwas creating "nowhere near" enough jobs to offset the rises in livingcosts, he added.
A governmentspokesman said the administration of President Thabo Mbeki fully understoodunion concerns, but questioned whether taking to the streets was the best wayto reach a solution.
Business groupssay they are sympathetic to the plight of the poor but argue that prices havebeen driven higher by external factors and that striking will only make thingsworse by reducing productivity.
South Africanunions also protested earlier this year over rising food prices. (ANA)