1 May 2020
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) will mark Workers’ Day 2020 today by launching a R100 000 Isibonelelo Fund to assist its affiliates procure vital Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs). This new FEDUSA facility has been driven by the need to urgently address the rising demand for social protection and support programmes to an unprecedented level of importance as the economy reopens under Level 4 Lockdown Provisions, and as about 1.5 million workers prepare to resume operations after a 35-day national lockdown aimed at curbing the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. This brings the sum to just over R250 000 that FEDUSA has dedicated to extending the level of support to its members, especially its essential services personnel organised at public institutions, due to glaring deficiencies of critical PPEs.
Whilst the union federation welcomed the R100 billion that has been specifically allocated to assist with the protection and creation of jobs as part of the R500 billion stimulus package announced by Government, this year FEDUSA pays special tribute to those workers whose jobs are threatened and who have already succumbed to retrenchment as a direct consequence of the exacerbated effects of COVID 19.
Sadly, as FEDUSA commemorates Workers Day in lockdown, we honour those frontline personnel, who have sadly contracted COVID 19 due to inadequate safety measures at institutions. FEDUSA will also roll-out a series of short and punchy video clips throughout this Workers” Month of May to sensitize members and the communities from which they come from, not only about how to clean themselves and others safe from COVID-19 infections, but also to take an unequivocal stand against Gender Based Violence and the direct consequences that women and children have faced, who were forced to remain in abusive situations imposed by the lockdown restrictions.
At the same time FEDUSA has appealed to both workers and employers to fully comply with Occupational Health and Safety guidelines for the safe management of COVID-19 risks in the workplace that were gazetted by the Department of Employment and Labour on Wednesday.
These totally new challenges faced by the working class at this historic moment has been starkly captured by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as nations around the globe slowly relax lockdowns and economic activities resume. ”For those people who worked remotely from home during the crisis, it will be important for them to mentally prepare to return to work. This group of people might be wary about returning to work, fearing an increased risk of infection but also uncertain about the future of their job. The other group of workers concerns a large population of people that have already lost their job, are working reduced hours or are facing severe cuts in their wages,” the ILO says in a statement.
“However, it is possible to turn the tide. If we reflect on previous pandemics followed by an economic recession it becomes clear that countries that invest in social protection, support programs and provide sufficient employment opportunities can mitigate the mental health crisis that follows a pandemic”.
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096