The Congress of South African Trade Unions, known as COSATU, is a close ally of the ANC, but often among its sharpest critics. COSATU cited two reasons for the marches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other towns and cities.
Support from across the political, racial and economic spectrum has emerged for one of the goals, getting the government to scrap planned tolls to pay for road upgrades in the Johannesburg area. COSATU says tolls will make life more expensive for the working class, middle-class drivers also have complained, and businesses don't want the cost of moving goods to rise. The main opposition Democratic Alliance party has vowed to challenge the toll plan in court.
COSATU also wants the government to ban companies that supply temporary workers, a goal that appeals to a narrower audience. COSATU says so-called labor brokers keep businesses from creating secure, well-paying jobs. Officially, a quarter of South Africa's labor force is out of work, but experts say the percentage would be higher if the discouraged and the underemployed were counted. Business groups have argued that instead of banning labor brokers, COSATU should work with them and the government to better regulate them.