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Workers' Day marked across SA

The main event is taking place in Bloemfontein where President Jacob Zuma is set to address workers despite objections from three unions.

FILE: Workers gather in Bloemfontein ahead of former President Jacob Zuma’s May Day 2017 address. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Thousands of workers affiliated to trade unions are holding marches and rallies across the country to mark Workers’ Day.

In Gauteng, workers have marched to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and in the Western Cape marchers are heading to Parliament.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)’s Tony Ehrenreich used his May Day address to hit out at Western Cape premier Helen Zille.

“We want to tell Zille; our people were here first long before the settlers arrived and when they landed they had no land on their boats. They stole the land from our people and we won’t forget that.”

The main event is taking place in Bloemfontein, where President Jacob Zuma is due to deliver the keynote address at Cosatu's May Day rally despite objections from some Cosatu unions.

At least three Cosatu unions warned that allowing the president to address Cosatu members would send a confusing message because the federation had taken a resolution that Zuma should step down as president.

National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) is one of three unions who did not want Zuma to address Monday’s celebrations.

The union's Khaya Xaba says they need to put their differences aside for just one day.

“We’re against any booing and heckling. We’re disciplined people and we want to celebrate in a peaceful manner.”

Free State African National Congress (ANC) chair Ace Magashule says he is not worried about divided opinions on Zuma's address.

Magashule says he is not concerned that some unions don't want the president to address this rally.

“I’m a democrat... we live in a democratic country. Cosatu is an independent trade union movement so anybody can say whatever they want.”

He was asked why the gathering in the Free State was dominated by members from the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and Women's League.

“Remember the workers of South Africa, those who are members of trade unions, are also members of the ANC.”

The ANCYL in the province has confirmed it's mobilised members to support the president.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)