COSATU mourns the passing of revolutionary Professor Eddie Webster

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) mourns the passing of Professor Edward ‘Eddie’ Webster. It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to a comrade who contributed so much to the development of workers’ struggles and our progressive labour laws and through his voluminous research and collaborations with the labour movement.  

COSATU sends its deepest condolences to the Webster family, his colleagues, comrades and friends.

Born on the 29th of March 1942, Professor Webster dedicated his entire life to the field of sociology, economics, labour and politics. The cultivation of his knowledge included many qualifications from various institutions.

His illustrious career included his many years at the University of the Witwatersrand where he served as Professor Emeritus in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) for almost 40 years until his passing.

Professor Webster was passionate about research in particular the evolving labour landscape and left an indelible mark in the study of the sociology of work and labour in South Africa.

Throughout his time at the University of the Witwatersrand, as the Head of the Department of Sociology, in 1998 -1995 and in the year 2000 to 2002, he spearheaded the transformation of the curriculum and the empowerment of staff, particularly that of African scholars. He played a significant role in the introduction of disciplines in this field, which have produced numerous key industrial relations scholars.

His work earned him widespread international recognition, including though his seven books and over 100 academic articles. In 2004, Professor Webster was rated top sociologist in South Africa by the National Research Foundation.

The Federation appreciates his contribution towards the importance of decent work, having served as the first Ella Batt Visiting Professor of Development and Decent Work at the International Centre for Development and Decent Work in Germany. His devotion to workers, the trade union movement and the liberation of South Africa saw him leave an indelible mark on those who crossed his outstanding career.

COSATU and its Affiliates are particularly indebted for the leadership role he played in the development of the Global Labour University offering academic opportunities to many trade union activists across the world as well as the Chris Hani Institute as a resource for the Federation and the South African Communist Party.

We will forever be grateful for the mentoring, guidance and expertise he provided for countless members of COSATU and the trade union movement until his very last days.

He will be remembered as one of a unique generation of young white university students in the darkest days of apartheid, who not only refused to allow universities to continue on the path of white privilege but sought at considerable risk to their careers and lives, to place their skills at the disposal of the trade union movement experiencing the most brutal suppression by the state.  His peers included such labour struggle icons as David Webster and Glen Moss.

His was a life well lived and he was proud that he dedicated it to workers’ struggles. May his impeccable works and indomitable spirit continue to inspire workers and guide our labour laws for years to come.

Hamba kahle comrade Professor Eddie Webster.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:

Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687