Biographies

Louisa Thipe
She was born, grew up and attended school in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria.
In 1984 she was employed by Pick ‘n Pay and joined the Retail and Allied Workers Union (RAWU) as a rank and file member and this Union, to-gether with the Hotel And Restaurant Workers Union (HARWU) later merged into the Commercial and Catering Workers Union of South Africa (CCAWUSA). This where her ideological acumen was sharpened and her organised labour activist initiated.
During the period between 1987 and 1989, CCAWUSA unfortunately suf-fered a split, with the two parts declaring themselves the right successors in title thus fighting to maintain the right to use the CCAWUSA name. CO-SATU intervened and following the adoption of the position of One Indus-try, One Union, the two factions in the split reconciled and SACCAWU was born.
Cde Boitumelo was elected as a Shopsteward in 1988, subsequent to which she was elected (in 1990) into the Executive Committee and later in that same year elected as Chairperson of the Pretoria Local. This auto-matically qualified her to be a member of the Regional Executive Commit-tee.
SACCAWU structures recognised her commitment and leadership abilities and tasked her to form part of the programmes to establish Gender struc-tures. In this context and having appreciated the reality that there was a need to compel companies to support women emancipation within the workplace, particularly in the Retail Sector (where young women workers are in the majority), the struggle of Child Care Facilities in the workplace became the primary
objective. She was also a strong protagonist in the struggle to ensure that women workers are not exposed to long working hours without due regard for safety, security and wellness of working mothers.
She was instrumental and part of the activists that were key to the strug-gles for and achievement of the Parental Rights Agreement, which to date remains one of the most progressive in the Country, which provides for 9 months paid maternity leave. This represents a milestone yet to be matched in SACCAWU and many other unions.
She was a members of the Regional Education Committee and had coor-dinating responsibility as a worker. In 1999 she was elected to the position of 1st Deputy President of SACCAWU, and allocated as a NOB designated to oversee Gender and Education amongst other responsibilities. During this period, she served in the Central Executive Committees of both SAC-CAWU and COSATU.
In 2013 when the then-President could not continue serving as President, Cde Louisa became the Acting President, until 2017 when she was for-mally elected to the position of President by Congress, a position she still holds today.
The comrade served and continues to serve her union with distinction and has been tasked or delegated to represent it at various institutions and or-ganisations both with the beyond the borders of South Africa. Amongst others, she represents SACCAWU in COSATU through active participation in the Gender Structure as well as Industrial Relations Committee.
Internationally she serves in various UNI Global Union structures including the Global Commerce Committee, Women’s Committee globally. She has also represented COSATU in a number of missions and was part of the mission that was barred from entering Zimbabwe for the purpose of union-to-union engagement.
2018 in the 13th National Congress, Louisa was elected 2nd Deputy President, taking over from comrade Tyotyo James