Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to the late trade unionist and activist, Ronald "Bernie" Bernickow, who died earlier this week after an extended illness.  

In a statement late on Wednesday night, Ramaphosa hailed Bernickow for his decades-long commitment to workers in the communications sector in particular, and the labour movement at large.  

Bernickow, popularly known as "Bernie", died on Monday. Most recently, he served as National Senior Commissioner: Operations at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, while he had also recently been appointed as the public representative on the Western Cape Chapter of Independent Media’s Ombud Appeals Panel. 

This followed more than three decades in various organising and leadership roles in the labour movement, beginning with his time in the early 1980s as a Media Workers' Association of South Africa organiser in the Western Cape.  

In 2014, Deputy President Ramaphosa appointed Bernickow as facilitator of the technical task teams that advised the Committee of Principals of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on the formulation of a National Minimum Wage and development of a new labour relations framework for the country.  

"We have lost a giant who served the workers of our country and the labour movement with humble distinction. The historic Nedlac agreement reached by social partners benefited greatly from the facilitation undertaken by Bernie, who brought his vast experience as a seasoned negotiator to bear on this important national task."  

"Bernie will be greatly missed by all those alongside whom he worked tirelessly to build a better South Africa and improve the working and social conditions of South Africa's working class," Ramaphosa said. 

"I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends and comrades."