Another public holiday: unions cheer as business laments setback to productivity

2011-12-15 00:00

DESPITE opposition from business, Acting President Kgalema Motlanthe declared Tuesday, December 27, a public holiday, the presidency announced yesterday.

The two major trade union federations, Cosatu and the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), welcomed the announcement. Both federations had earlier called on the government to declare the day a holiday as Christmas falls on a Sunday and Boxing Day on a Monday, also a holiday.

This would have meant that workers would miss out on the usual two-day holiday over Christmas, as Tuesday would have fallen outside the ambit of the Public Holidays Act.

A special declaration was required from the presidency for Tuesday to be declared a holiday, and last month Fedusa wrote to the president to ask him to give workers Tuesday off as well.

Motlanthe’s spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, confirmed that yesterday’s announcement was made in accordance with Fedusa’s recommendations.

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said the union was delighted and thanked the president for taking the plight of workers into consideration.

Cosatu’s national spokesperson, Patrick Craven, rejec­ted business opposition to the holiday, saying workers had worked hard for the whole year and deserved to rest. “People opposed to this announcement are the ones who get millions of rands in bonuses while workers get very little or nothing.They deserve to rest, especially during these year-end holidays.”

Managers of entertainment venues around Pietermaritzburg also welcomed the extra holiday, while patrons in some taverns visited last night were delighted.

Thulani Bhengu, the manager of 033 Lifestyle, a restaurant and pub in Imbali, said they planned to line up a number of activities to entertain their patrons on the holiday.

“We had already made entertainment arrangements for our patrons and the extra day means we have to beef up our line-up. We welcome the day and, as usual, we expect to attract a lot of people, especially at our car-wash centre as people enjoy having their cars washed before returning to work the next day.”

Dna Nculwane, manager at 777 Lounge on Moses Mabhida Road, said he would organise a few specials for his patrons.

Tavern owners in Sobantu and other townships visited around the city shared in the joy last night.

But Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce and Business CEO Melanie Veness said the extra holiday would set back the country’s already low productivity.

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