President Cyril Ramaphosa has said that he has heard the grievances that workers expressed at a Cosatu May Day rally “loudly and clearly” in a statement addressing the disastrous events of the occasion.
In a rather woefully attended affair, the president was shipped away in a police Nyala as raucous workers did not even allow him to complete the address.
Although Ramaphosa said that he had heard the concerns of workers, General secretary of the new Public Service and Commercial Union of South Africa (PSCUSA),Tahir Maepa said that Ramaphosa was not a proactive leader.
This, according to Maepa, makes Ramaphosa a hindrance in many aspects of what he is doing for the country.
“There are many issues with regard to unfair labour practices that he has not attended to and as a result that is the reaction he got from the union. Unions are not happy with him at all,” he said.
Maepa said that the government has failed dismally and the foundation on which they have built is beginning to surface, and it will not be easy for Ramaphosa to make a comeback as the wounds are too deep.
He said this might hit Ramaphosa at this year’s elective conference and ultimately in the 2024 national elections.
“There are many issues and problems in this country. The damage is already done. Our law enforcement is weak and the judiciary is a joke. Such conditions do have a negative impact on society, thus it won't be easy for him to get a second term,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s statement continued to say that the wage grievances of workers in Rustenburg deserved the attention of all stakeholders, employers and labour so that a fair and sustainable settlement could be reached and the government was committed to playing its part.
“But the workers at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium also made plain what nearly every South African knows: the working class and the poor of our country are suffering.
“They made the firm point that we must do more, and act with greater urgency, to address issues of unemployment, poverty, deprivation and hunger. At the same time, we must establish more efficient mechanisms to enable workers to participate more fully in the formulation and implementation of policy and programmes.”
Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo, who attended the event, said that the mood was jubilant as it was a celebration for the workers.
“The workers were quite emotionally charged this time around for a number of reasons. A number of issues in the workplace across sectors and those mainly have to do (it looks like) with the continued attack normally mentioned in collective bargaining,” he said.
Things are not going well when it comes to collective bargaining, he said, and that platform is being abused.
“In fact, (it is) an attack particularly by employers and in this case we mean both the government and the private sector.
“It’s worse this time around because the public sector is the one that is leading the charge,” he said.
“From us as the public sector it is the issue of austerity measures that the government is putting in place where people are not getting employed.”
Mentioning specifically the health-care sector as an essential service, he said “you find that they are not being hired even by those who have studied”.
“Now we have nurses sitting at home who are qualified,” he said.
The message sent to Ramaphosa was monumental, he said. If they are able to see clearly, they should anticipate what is coming for them.
“Workers have expressed their unhappiness and there is nobody who can claim not to have seen that,” he said.