The South African Federation of Trade Unions supports today’s picket against the high cost of data and airtime
R2K Gauteng will lead the pickets outside the officers of four network providers to demand the action must be taken to ensure that the cost of data and airtime is affordable to all the people of South Africa.
Communication and access to information is a basic human right and peoples’ need to talk to each other should not be exploited to make super-crofts for a highly monopolised industry.
“These are follow-up actions after service providers failed to act on demands that have been continuously presented to them since R2K initiated the campaign against the high cost of communications in 2013. To date none of the demands have been met.” Says R2K.
“The right to communicate, and to receive and impart information and opinions, was central to the right to know. Yet far too many South Africans are deprived of the basic right to communicate because of the ruthless profiteering of the big telecoms companies. High data and airtime prices place this right out of reach of the country’s poor.”
South Africa had some of the highest data and airtime costs in the world, and SAFTU fully agrees with R2K that “it is outrageous that in a country where so many struggle to put bread on the table, the telecoms companies are given free rein to rip us off”.
The demands include:
* Affordable data and airtime for all South Africans.
* Communications must be universal. Everyone has a right to communications that are available and affordable.
* All SMSs should be free as they cost the operators almost nothing to transmit.
* Everyone should get a free basic amount of airtime and data, in the same way as free basic water and electricity.
* Icasa must regulate the cost of airtime and data to stop profiteering.
* Prepaid communication users should not cross-subsidise post-paid users.
* Data bundles should not expire if they are unused.
* Cellphone companies must improve the quality of service, including network outages, dropped calls, calls that don’t connect and data coverage.
The pickets begin at 10h00 and the venues are: