1 May 2021
For the second time in succession, workers will not be able to come together in marches, demonstrations or mass rallies to celebrate May Day – this most important day on the working class Calendar – because of a formal advice from the Department of Employment and Labour to prohibit such gatherings in order to curb the spread of COVID19 which is still a clear and present danger. The physical restrictions notwithstanding, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) would like to wish all workers a Happy Workers’ Day.
The humanitarian and economic crises that the pandemic has inflicted on workers of the world including more than a million infections and nearly 54 000 deaths in South Africa has been very difficult to control, but what is in workers hands is to register for the vaccination roll-out process that government has now put in place.
Rising to the challenge of registering for vaccination is vital in order to save the lives of workers and the broader communities, and for putting the economy back onto a recovery path and setting a good example in addressing both the debilitating vaccine hesitancy and the negative anti-vaccination narrative from some quarters.
Frontline health workers administering the vaccine and treating pandemic patients – supported by scientists and essential services workers in the food, transportation and sanitation sectors – are the true workers’ heroes and heroines this May Day and should be celebrated.
COVID-19 has also exposed serious weaknesses in our public health system on which the vaccine roll-out is largely dependent. We therefore call on government to address weaknesses in the system, including the inadequacy of occupational health and safety plans in state buildings as seen by the tragedy of the fire that gutted the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg this past week.
This May Day also takes place against unfortunate attacks on collective bargaining in the public service by the state as austerity measures in the form of a wage freeze for the next three years falls unevenly on public servants. Workers must unite and fight against this unwarranted dilution of their rights.
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
Mr Ashley Benjamin
FEDUSA Deputy General Secretary
083 258 4433
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096