Cosatu to ANC: You are in power because of our mobilisation

The South African Communist Party and (Cosatu)’s leadership have been speaking at National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union’s day of action in Pretoria.

Members are gathered outside the union buildings to handover their list of demands. Picture: Kgomotso Modise/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has reminded government that they were only in power because of their mobilisation and not of their own doing.

The South African Communist Party and Cosatu’s leadership have been speaking at the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union’s (Nehawu) national day of action in Pretoria.

They joined calls for safer working conditions for frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19, saying substandard personal protective equipment had been given to workers.

Two-hundred-and-forty healthcare workers have lost their lives to the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, something union leaders have blamed on negligence by the employers.

Protesters in red danced and sang just outside the Union Buildings lawns.

Workers accused employers of forcing them to return to work after being diagnosed with COVID-19 without proper screening.

They also criticised the corruption with the COVID-19 relief fund, saying that was money that could have been used to honour the wage agreement.

Cosatu’s president Zingiswa Losi said: “It can only rule because we mobilise beyond the membership and we are saying to the leadership of the ANC, lead South Africa. You went to your conference and took resolution, implement those resolutions.”

A memorandum has been handed over to the acting director-general in the office of the president Lusanda Mxenge - who has promised to make sure it makes it to the president’s desk.

WORKERS OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID

At the same time, Nehawu has warned government not to use COVID-19 as an excuse to rob workers of their rightful gains.

The union said its members were overworked but underpaid and forced to be exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic without quality personal protective equipment.

Secretary-general Zola Sapheta has demanded that government fill all vacant posts, permanently.

“We have skeletons in hospitals because there are vacant positions, you can’t dispute that. Our members are contracting this disease and they succumb to the virus.”

They also want a risk allowance for all frontline workers.

The union has given government five days to respond to these demands- failing which they risk losing their vote in next year’s elections.

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