“Women emancipation is not an act of charity but a precondition for the liberation of society” SamoraMachel

The National Education, Health & Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] joins all South Africans in celebrating women’s day which is observed today, the 9th of August 2020.

The national union takes this opportunity to pay reverence to the class of 1956 who marched on this day to petition against legislation that required Africans to carry a “pass”. As NEHAWU, we continues to draw inspiration from the more than 20 000 women led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams and Frances Baard who marched to the Union Buildings, protesting against the Urban Areas Act and its amendments.

While celebrating this important day in 2020 we salute all women who are working as frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. NEHAWU salutes all its female frontline members and workers who go beyond the call of duty under adverse conditions which includes work over-load, exhaustion, limited public transport, inadequate training, intermittent supply of Personal Protective Equipment [PPEs] and even life-threatening circumstances to test, treat and quarantine patients.

Nurses work under difficult and unsafe conditions because of understaffing and lack of compliance to the Occupational Health and Safety [OHS] Act by the management of healthcare facilities. During our fact-finding mission our teams found that nurses are being forced to do the work of cleaners and porters without necessary designated PPEs. When the Minister of Health presented statistics on infected frontline workers to parliament on the 8th July 2020 nurses were the most affected with 2473 infections out of 4821 infections at that time. As part of our programme of action which is aimed at protecting workers during the pandemic we will mobilise all workers to fight for their rights of working in a safe environment and their right to life as enshrined in the constitution of the Republic.

As we celebrate this historic day is it very imperative that we celebrate the heroic struggle waged by women to bring about democracy in our country. We are faced with the tasks of ensuring that future generations know about the women of all colours and from different walks of life who united to challenge and fight against oppression. Their names must forever be etched in history books and serve as a lesson to future generations that through unity victory is possible.

While we celebrate this historic day we must pause and analyse with the aim of finding solutions to the hardship and social ills faced by women currently. Women continue to be victims of unfair labour practices and unpaid reproductive work. Many women continue to be in sub-standard forms of employment like casual work, temporary work, part time and sometimes being exploited by labour brokers. Owners of the means of production continue to rake in huge profits made from exploiting working class women who are vulnerable and eager to feed their families.

In our quest to build a non-sexist society we have not focused enough on building an economic system that values women, especially working class women. In this regard, NEHAWU will continue to push for structural changes that are urgently needed and including access to funding for enterprises and co-operatives development.

As part of celebrating Women’s Month and assessing the impact of COVID-19 on women in society and in the workplace NEHAWU will host a panel discussion on the 15th August 2020 virtually at 11:30am. The topic of the panel discussion “The impact of COVID-19 on women in society and in the workplace”. Details including the speakers list which will include speakers from our federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU], the South African Communist Party [SACP], the Gender Commission, Ministry of Women and Children and the World Federation of Trade Union [WFTU] Women’s Secretariat will be communicated later during the week.

Wathint`Abafazi Wathint`imbokodo!!!

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 082 455 2500 or email: