The Congress of South African Trade Unions wishes workers and South Africans in general, a wonderful Freedom Day tomorrow, 27 April 2020. This year marks the 26th anniversary of our freedom that marked the demise of the apartheid regime and heralded our democratic breakthrough. This is an important day in our calendar that we need to commemorate because it reminds us of where we come from and the sacrifices that gave us this freedom. This year, Freedom Day finds us in the midst of a battle against a deadly virus (Covid-19) that has caused considerable damage to our lives and our economy.
The national lockdown has reminded us that our freedom comes with responsibilities. We need to make sure that we act responsibly to help in the fight against this virus without sacrificing our hard-won freedoms.
The Federation salutes all health workers and other essential service employees for their bravery and dedication in fighting the deadly Covid-19 virus during this difficult time. Across the country, brave and dedicated doctors, nurses, community health carers, paramedics, allied health, social service practitioners, cleaners and morgue workers are facing an extraordinary assignment of taking care of the nation under extreme situations. These heroes and heroines are overworked and under-resourced in our overloaded health facilities.
We salute them and their unions for supporting the fight against Covid-19, while also not abandoning the struggle for better wages and improved working conditions.
Let unite in the fight against lawlessness in our communities that has seen a rise in Gender-Based Violence, stealing from, and burning of schools. These are our responsibilities as free people.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has exposed the inefficiency of some of our policy choices. Twenty-six years later many people do not have access to water, our housing, and human settlement system is inefficient and inadequate; our health system is poorly funded and our economy is imploding because of poor energy supply. We need to learn lessons from this crisis, so that we make better choices going forward
Our big challenge now is to work hard to change the nature and structure of the country’s economy, so as to improve the lives of the majority for the better. We should, therefore, use this freedom to participate in policy discussions and planning sessions to change the past and build a better future. Workers need to influence and support government efforts and programmes that are meant to mobilise resources and reorganise our economy into an inclusive one that benefits the majority.
As workers, we acknowledge our hard-won victories in the workplace, and it is our responsibility to make sure that all the labour laws that we have won are observed also by all employers.
Let remember that not all of us are free. Farmworkers, domestic workers, and other vulnerable workers still live precarious lives and too many of our people are unemployed and living lives of brute survival.
Our commitment going forward should be about contributing to the fight to reduce poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. We are not free when many of our compatriots are struggling to have three meals a day and clothes on their backs, do not have a roof over their heads and remain unemployed.
During this Freedom Day, we reaffirm our international solidarity with Cuba in defence of the Cuban revolution, against US imperialism and to assert the country’s sovereign right to pursue an independent path of social, political and economic development. The arrival of Cuban doctors to help in the fight against Covid-19 virus is a perfect example of international solidarity and humanity. We reaffirm our support to the Palestinian, Swati, and Saharawi people, including all those suffering from occupation and colonial aggression around the world.
Happy Freedom Day to all!
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794