Ramaphosa receives warm reception at Cosatu's May Day rally

Joann Johnston
May 2, 2018

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is hosting its main Workers' Day rally in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned workers against violating human rights and destroying public property during protests. Ramaphosa is expected to receive a warm welcome by Cosatu members, this is in contrast to former president Jacob Zuma who was prevented from speaking at the Workers Day event in 2017 by a jeering crowd who wanted him to resign.

"We must have a foundation so that we can keep going up, if you were to suddenly say workers must earn R15,000, a lot of workers would lose their jobs".

"We say to you: "We respect you; we love you; we support you; we want to continue walking this journey with you".

"But we will never unite with people that deliver our workers on a silver platter for further exploitation to the multibillionaires that have ascended to the position of the president of the ANC". Instead‚ it is campaigning to have August 16 declared as South African workers' day in commemoration of the Marikana massacre.

"Let us have that humanity, that even when we are on strike, certain services are important".

Ramaphosa said that the struggle for a living wage was ongoing and congratulated COSATU for charging with the cause and improving the lives of over six million workers.

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"We are saying no‚ let us have ubuntu".

He also used the opportunity to explain why government was backing the proposed national minimum wage of R20 an hour.

The SA Federation of Trade Unions, a breakaway from Cosatu, has recently gained significantly in power in the sector; holding countrywide strikes last week. "This is a struggle that you must get involved in", he said.

South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande agreed with Mabuyane and Mchunu.

"We are going to mobilise workers to bring this country to a standstill if government doesn't want to ban labour brokers".

"It is this symbolism that gives meaning and relevance, within context, to a public holiday for whatever goal". [The] Lonmin [Marikana] massacre is the epitome of our struggle.

International Workers' Day is celebrated globally on May 1 every year after 300 000 workers in the USA left their workplaces to demand an eight hour working day, Mathunjwa said. The union also pointed to other countries such as the USA which celebrates Labour Day in September.

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