Cape Town - There was a family fun day atmosphere at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) sports field for the commemoration of Workers’ Day.
The theme for the day was: “Build Working Class Unity for Economic Liberation towards Socialism.”
Yet despite all the celebrations with music, dance and exhibitions by various organisations such as Proudly SA, who were busy building awareness of their #BuyLocal campaign, there were some serious issues on the minds of those who attended the event.
Member of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) nurse Alida Porter said she was concerned about the state of the economy with the prices of basics such as food, fuel and electricity constantly rising. She said the country might as well be in a recession.
“The living wage is no more a living wage. It’s not really enough to buy the basic stuff at home, and my heart goes out to a worker who earns only the basic salary because what can you do with that? It’s peanuts,” she said.
Porter said she was a well paid nurse but that even for her it was a struggle and as for those on minimum wage, she said it was beyond belief that households were expected to live off R3000.
Cosatu member Sandile Tilane said he was expecting the leaders at the Workers’ Day event to address issues peculiar to the Western Cape such as how the electricity crisis was affecting the economy and working conditions.
“Let’s talk about the public service, the longer the economy stagnates, the longer workers in the public service will go without an increase.
“At the same time they are confronted by a high repo rate, municipalities raising their rates and this makes the issues of workers buying houses in the Western Cape very difficult.”
In her speech to the workers, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy said that while there were many achievements that had been made since democracy in 1994, there was no room for complacency.
Creecy said last weekend’s four-day ANC NEC meeting had shown that the party was “very conscious of the many challenges facing the country, especially the hardships that working people and the unemployed are enduring”.
Cosatu national treasurer Freda Oosthuysen said workers needed to unite against rising extreme poverty, unprecedented levels of unemployment, deteriorating public services and elite corruption.
She said Cosatu would continue to push for the expansion of the presidential employment stimulus to create work opportunities for young people and the retention and expansion of the SRD grant as a foundation for a basic income grant.