President Cyril Ramaphosa – who had to abandon his Workers’ Day address in Rustenburg – on Tuesday said the “workers have spoken. We must listen. And, together, we must act”.
Writing in his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said: “This year, I was invited to address a Workers’ Day rally at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
“I was, however, unable to address the gathering because workers there had grievances that they expressed loudly and clearly.”
Before he could address the gathering, security personnel whisked Ramaphosa away after workers in attendance became increasingly rowdy.
“While the main grievance appeared to be about wage negotiations at nearby mines, the workers’ actions demonstrated a broader level of discontent,” said Ramaphosa of the incident.
“It reflects a weakening of trust in their union and Federation as well as political leadership, including public institutions.”
However, commenting on the behaviour of the workers, Saftu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said: “I think it was a justifiable act of anger; a statement that needed to be made against the leader of the government that is cutting expenditure on healthcare and education.”
In the newsletter, Ramaphosa further said: “As political and union leaders, we have all heard the workers and understand their frustration.
“More than that, we are firmly committed to take the necessary action to improve their lives and their working conditions.”
He said, while the government could not do this alone, it remained committed to doing its part.
“This is not something that government can do on its own.
“It needs both labour and business, and indeed the whole of society, to work with government to implement an agreed set of measures to grow and transform the economy.”
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