Braam community stands in solidarity with South Point workers.

South Point students and retailers have pledged their solidarity with striking South Point workers on September, 18 and 19 respectively.

South Point residents held a meeting at The Grove, opposite South Point Central offices, to put their weight behind the workers who have been on strike since Monday, September 10.

At the meeting residents voiced out their concerns over poor health and safety measures. Approximately 207 South African Industrial Commercial and Allied Workers Union (SAICWU) striking workers include cleaners, security guards and maintenance workers.

South Point resident, Katlego Malapane, told Wits Vuvuzela, “We do stand with the workers, we support them.” The second-year BA general student added the strike had had a severely negative effect on the residents.

“The security deployed [by Servest] is not effective. People sneak others in right in front of the security guards. That means our lives are in danger,” the 19-year-old said. “It’s dirty! They take the bins out twice a week. It pains me because my parents brought me here to live in a clean and safe place,” Malapane added.

The retailers who have leases with South Point held their own meeting with the workers on Wednesday, September 19, committing to support the workers’ strike in any way necessary. Relay Jeans manager Kea Kosana told Wits Vuvuzela that retailers decided to help the workers because the workers’ fight with South Point was affecting them too.

Kosana said South Point had not communicated with the retailers regarding the strike and that retailers had pledged to not pay rent until the workers’ demands were met.

“We agreed to help them with their fight if they help us with our fight of not paying rent when the strike is over. There’s a meeting between South Point and workers scheduled for Wednesday, September 26. “We’ve agreed to help them in whichever way they need help,” the 24-year-old added.

South Point electrician Moloko Rakgoropa told Wits Vuvuzela, “We asked [retailers] for their support; to close shops for the day and help with picketing and stand in solidarity with us.”

Wits EFF council member Khensani Masisi told Wits Vuvuzela that solidarity between workers and students is a fundamental relationship. “When it comes to workers, our lives revolve around them. Our safety and hygiene is in their hands.

“The same luxuries we enjoy academically, their children must enjoy them too. The salary that South Point gives workers is not sustainable for that to happen,” Masisi said.

The negotiations between the SAICWU and South Point will resume on Wednesday, September 26, with South African Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi taking part in the negotiations.

FEATURED PHOTO: South Point retailers meet with workers opposite South Point central and agree to support their strike. Photo: Onke Ngcuka