Today marks International Workers’ Day

Today marks International Workers’ Day

Al Jama-ah Leader, Ganief Hendricks says decent work is at the heart of the party’s Workers’ Day message. Hendricks says decent work is something that was close to the hearts of the late stalwarts Nelson Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Monday marks International Workers’ Day which is celebrated all over the world.

Hendricks says South Africa should be one of the leading countries in the world to promote decent work and full employment.

“Decent work is at the heart of Al Jama-ah’s Workers’ Day message. President Mandela signed the international agreement that South Africa will have decent work and his work was continued by Winnie Mandela. And in the first year after this international agreement, President Mandela received an international award and in the second year, Winnie Mandela also received an international award for promoting decent work.”

“So decent work is at the heart of our message and further Al Jama-ah has a position that South Africa must have full employment. It must be one of the countries in the world that must have full employment, and nothing less than full employment in South Africa would satisfy Al Jama-ah,” Hendricks added.

Labour wars and land wars 

Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) Leader, Mzwanele Nyhontso says worker consciousness is a critical driver for transformation. He says the fight for labour rights and decent work is the same as the fight for land. He says unity among the workers is important for many who are denied a decent living wage.

“Labour wars are land wars. May Day is a significant day in the world to unite and gain their labour rights that is dominated by owners of the means of productions. The PAC regards worker consciousness as a key driver for transformation. It is the choice of organised workers at the polls that determines the future of the land. The current ruling party is clearly an ally of big business. If workers choose capital over labour, they are shooting themselves (in)on the foot. They are blinded by workerists ideas. Workers can do better than that. The number of workers in the labour unions is now lower than (the) unemployed. The workers must now unite with the many who are denied a chance of earning a decent living. The PAC says labour wars are land wars. Land is a basis for liberation”.

Stop SA Post Office retrenchments 

The Congress of the People (COPE) says workers in both private and public sector can stop retrenchments if they are united. COPE National Spokesperson, Dennis Bloem says the party is calling for the planned job bloodbath at the South African Post Office to be stopped and condemned.

“For as long as workers don’t realise their power when they are united, the capitalist employers will forever exploit them and undermine their seat. Workers must unite and speak in one voice. Workers federations must put their differences aside and unite. Workers can only stop the blood bath of retrenchment(s) on the shop floor when they are united.

“Congress of the People are saying the planned retrenchments at the South African Post Office must be condemned and must be stopped. Any retrenchments, whether from the private sector or government must be opposed by all of us. The country cannot afford to add more people to the unemployment crisis,” Bloem emphasised.

Post Office responds to retrenchments report: 

Incompetent political leaders and private sector captains 

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) says as South Africans and workers across the world mark International Workers’ Day, FEDUSA commemorates this important day in the lives of workers with what the federations describes as, “a heavy heart”.

“Despite the painstaking efforts of workers in the various sectors where we organise, society continues to suffer many challenges which have befallen this beautiful nation as a result of incompetent political leaders and private industry captains. We celebrate the efforts of workers against a tragic backdrop of collapsing municipalities, shrinking wages, a weakening economy and the heightening of the triple crises that is unemployment, poverty and inequality. Crime has also negatively affected the quality-of-life South Africans are entitled to enjoy as per the prescripts in the country’s constitution,” says FEDUSA Secretary-General Riefdah Ajam in a statement.

Ajam says the safety of workers is also at stake as many are also facing mental illnesses due to the current conditions.

“More and more workers and people, in general, are suffering from mental health illnesses due to these factors and many others, forcing us as a caring labour federation to take a step back and reflect on Safety and Wellness as Fundamental Rights in Workplaces. Albeit the Occupational Health and Safety Act guarantees workers many protections, we have realised that many employers continue to exploit workers, putting their lives and health at risk as many are incapable of speaking up in fear of compromising their job security.”

“However, even with this reality, FEDUSA wants to encourage workers to make use of the anonymous tip-off lines at the Employment and Labour Department to report employers who are incompliant with the OHS Act.

The tragedy here is that while many are silent as they are exposed to hazardous materials and collapsing buildings in their places of work, they equally fall victim to these inhumane conditions that they should not be subjected to in the first place. The government itself has been exposed for being among the leading contraveners of the OHS Act and other regulations set to guarantee the safety of workers,” added Ajam.

FEDUSA also says it’s shameful that nearly 30 years into the country’s economy, workers continue to face deadly working conditions.

“The fact that the country’s mining sector still must account yearly for fatalities in their operations speaks volumes about how little has changed. That teachers in rural settings, along with learners still must risk their health and lives using pit latrines is an abomination. The fact that the Employment and Labour Department’s inspectors still declare buildings “death traps” in the public and private sectors also speaks volumes about the commitment of employers to the wellness of workers”.

Ajam says FEDUSA and its affiliates are committed to ensure that they continue advocating for the rights of workers on issues of occupational health, safety, and wellness.

“These are not just suggestions but fundamental rights in workplaces. We call on workers to find their voice and not allow fear to turn them mute in the face of this injustice because failure to act threatens their well-being. May South African workers and society at large use this year’s Worker’s Day Commemorations to reflect on these injustices to revolt against it. We wish all workers a peaceful and reflective May Day.”

Challenges faced by labour unions in SA under spotlight:

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