Political parties, unions commemorate Workers' Day

2018-05-01 17:19

As the country commemorates Workers' Day, political parties, trade unions and Parliament have said more still needed to be done for South Africa's working class.  

Rallies are being held across the country in celebration of the country's workers.  

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) pledged to keep up the struggle to forge the "political weapon" of the working class. 

The union claimed the ANC-led government had become an oppressor of the working class.

"Today, the ANC government is attacking the working class by proposing poverty national minimum wages of R20, R18, R15 and R11 per hour, depending upon the sector of employment."

It said the working class had made it clear that they will not accept a "poverty wage" as proposed by the ANC’s national minimum wages.

"We demand a genuine national minimum wage, which must be a living wage, today. We will not accept any national minimum wage which perpetuates the racist and colonial wage structure in post-1994 South Africa.

"We are not willing to compromise on this anymore. We are fed up with the ANC governments’ relentless assaults on black and African working class living conditions."

'Improve legislation'

Parliament's presiding officers said they will continue to improve the legislative landscape to consolidate workers’ victories and rights.

Parliament said it was amending existing legislation and it will also introduce more to ensure that the "laws governing the employer and employee relations in South Africa further bolster the successes that we have achieved since the advent of democracy in 1994".

It also said once the new National Minimum Wage Bill which was introduced in November last year,  will advance economic development and social justice by improving the wages of the lowest paid workers.

It will also protect them from unreasonably low wages, promote collecting bargaining and also support economic policy, it said. "It will ensure that the pervasive and entrenched exploitation of workers in various sectors of the economy is put to a stop."

DA talks land

Meanwhile, leader of the Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane also took the opportunity on Workers' Day to speak about land.

Addressing farm workers at an event in Wellington in the Western Cape, Maimane said the party stands accused of opposing redress on land.

"Because we voted against the EFF’s proposal to dismantle part of the Constitution to allow for land grabs, they tried to label us as 'anti-redress'.

"The notion that anyone who stands opposed to the EFF’s land expropriation without compensation is also opposed to land reform is nonsense."

He said they voted against the EFF's proposal because it will do nothing to empower the poor black South African.

"In fact, it will only make them poorer. You see, by their model, all land will become the property of the state, and no individuals will own anything. This is what they don’t mention in their slogans.

"But they intend to take away everyone’s property, whether you’re black or white, and make everyone permanent tenants of the state. That’s not empowerment. That’s just another poverty trap," Maimane said.

Socialism is the answer, says EFF

The EFF said in its statement for Workers' Day that there was "no complete freedom without the land".

"... The EFF calls on land expropriation without compensation for equal redistribution to improve the conditions of farm workers. All workers need the land and farmworkers also need to share in the ownership of agricultural land and produce."

The party said the "true solution" to capitalist development was socialism. 

"South Africa faces one of the most brutal capitalist developments in human history whereby whose articulation with colonial anti-black racism continues to sustain wage inequalities on racial lines. Above all, apartheid and the post-apartheid states have ensured the continued availability of blacks as cheap and easily disposable labour."

The EFF, while welcoming the minimum wage "in principle", was opposed to the set figure of R20 an hour. 

The party condemned the "exploitative conditions" of medical staff, while calling for a national review of salaries to ensure that women are paid the same as men for doing the same job. 


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