As the second-largest labour federation in South Africa, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has reflected deeply on the gains and struggles of workers as the world commemorates Workers Day on 1 May. We have dissected our nation’s enduring commitment to workers’ rights, a foundation laid by persistent struggles against inequality and injustice. We have also observed the contrast, which lies in the continued abuse of workers and non-compliance with labour regulations despite our laws being among the most progressive globally.

Despite this, FEDUSA stands proud of the strides made by its affiliates and members since its inception 27 years ago. FEDUSA has championed the rights and welfare of workers across various sectors through relentless advocacy, strategic partnerships, and vigorous negotiations. We have secured substantial advancements in working conditions, fair compensation, and benefits. These achievements are not just triumphs for FEDUSA; they represent a monumental step forward for every South African worker, strengthening our societal fabric towards a fairer and more equitable future.

This May Day, the federation has identified the following issues, among many others, as critical for the working class and broader society at large:

Migration and Employment

The complexities of migration present significant challenges for our labour market. FEDUSA is dedicated to contributing to the crafting of balanced policies that protect all workers, ensuring that the influx of migrant labour does not undermine local employment. Our efforts aim to promote harmony and fairness within the workforce.

Energy Insecurity

The ongoing energy crisis is no longer just a threat to our economic stability but has collapsed industries and has led to a jobs bloodbath for countless South Africans. FEDUSA demands that the government implement sustainable, long-term energy solutions to protect and promote industrial growth and worker productivity.

Increasing Poverty

With the cost of living rising faster than wage growth, poverty remains a harsh reality for many workers, mainly the working poor and unemployed. FEDUSA actively advocates for wage increases and supports initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty, striving to uplift not only workers but their families and communities. We call on employers to be cognisant of these realities when we enter negotiations.

Climate Change and Employment

Climate change threatens significant sectors such as agriculture, mining, and fisheries. FEDUSA advocates for policies that mitigate environmental impacts and foster job creation in the emerging green industries, ensuring a sustainable future for all workers.

Embracing Technological Advancements

As technology reshapes all sectors and the future of work, we have long only imagined is here, FEDUSA commits to ensuring that this digital transition secures, rather than undermines, job security. We are at the forefront of initiatives for upskilling and reskilling workers to keep pace with technological advancements. However, labour’s efforts must be met with transparency and coherent plans by both employers and the government.

On the global front, the plight of workers’ demands urgent attention, with economic and social factors creating precarious conditions for many. In South Africa, the challenge is especially severe among the youth and historically marginalised communities, where high unemployment threatens the fabric of our society. FEDUSA stands ready to address these critical issues with robust strategies for job creation, educational reform, and skills development to ensure a resilient, inclusive labour market.

This Workers Day, FEDUSA renews its vow to fight tirelessly for the dignity and rights of every South African worker. We face today’s challenges with unwavering courage and resolve, committed to forging a fair, inclusive, and prosperous future. We call on all stakeholders, government, businesses, and communities, to unite in this endeavour.

Today, more than ever, FEDUSA stands resolute and impassioned, advocating for a society where every worker and every South African can achieve their potential and contribute to our nation’s prosperity. Together, we can overcome today’s adversities and build a brighter, more equitable tomorrow.