Joyce Seroke speaks about the late trade unionist and political leader Emma Mashinini at the memorial service held at the Johannesburg City Hall. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
Legendary trade unionist Emma “Tiny” Mashinini was lauded as a leader who rose above the limits that were set against her and always put others first.

Mashinini died on Monday in Joburg at the age of 87. She was one of South Africa’s most formidable trade unionists and a recipient of the Order of the Baobab and the Order of Luthuli.

Louise Thipe, president of South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union, led the tributes for the Struggle stalwart at the Johannesburg City Hall on Thursday. 

Thipe said the trade unionist kept abreast with the developments in the country right up to her last day and did not shy away from raising her concerns.

“Mashinini was very critical of the state of the country, we all know what is going on something must be done,” said Thipe.

She said Mashinini would always remind them of how “she was appointed by the bosses but was elected by workers”.

Mashinini always represented the workers in the best way she knew possible and that’s were her loyalty always was, Thipe said.

Mashinini played a huge role in the liberation of the country. She started working in the garment industry when she was just 14 after her parents’ separation left her mother unable to support the family, Thipe added.

She became an organiser for the Garment Workers Union, and helped to secure a 40-hour work week and unemployment insurance.

The funeral service will be at 8am tomorrow at St Alban’s Cathedral in Pretoria.@Sabie_M