May Day: Where were the workers?

For many years now, Numsa News has been carrying stories of the poor attendance by workers at May Day rallies across the country. Is this continued 'poor attendance' a problem? Maluleke and Mohale think it is. What do you think?

Dwindling numbers is an indication of worker apathy

Importance of May Day

Workers across the world have celebrated this day since 1886.South Africa is no exception. Workers participated in various activities organised by Cosatu and other labour organisations.

But attendance for such activities was very poor. The reasons for this vary.Some of our comrades are indirectly influenced by employers who do not support this day. Employers encourage comrades to work on this day and be paid more than the normal rate.

Therefore some of them will prefer to work rather than join celebrations. This day should be a day to relax since it is a paid public holiday.The majority of the current workforce doesn't fully understand the importance of May Day because they are still young.

Cosatu must inform these young lions about the importance of this day because they are the future of this country. Cosatu must deepen service and fight for respect of workers' rights for mobilisation.

We must understand that our rights were severely violated and Cosatu worked very hard to get those rights to be recognised. I think we must attend this May Day in numbers to show respect for our fallen heroes who also fought for these rights.I hope next year we will see an improved attendance at May Day activities.

E MalulekeKempton Park Local

This year's attendance at May Day celebrations is a direct demonstration of workers' dissatisfaction with the government. Contradictory to popular belief, the current status quo in the country is clearly dissatisfactory and has the potential to alienate the majority of workers from the traditionally supported freedom organisations.

Although the workers were reported to have attended the May Day rallies in different parts of the country, indications are that very few workers in the country took to these rallies to support the proceedings.

This comes at a crucial time when the government is in dire need of support from the workers who are its backbone.

Looking at the demonstrations at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg, it was obvious that workers did not attend in great numbers as expected, and instead preferred to remain at home to attend to other matters.

Why are we beginning to see this trend when all these years the workers were at the forefront of the demonstrations?There are a number of reasons for this new trend.First – the major significant worker absenteeism from the May Day demonstrations in Johannesburg was last year when the demonstrations were held at Library Gardens.

Even though there was a great deal of rain, it was clear that workers had not bothered to attend demonstrations.This year there was no rain and despite the favourable weather and the free buses hired to ferry the workers to the demonstrations, less than 10 000 at the most availed themselves.

And even then, some say that those that arrived in the afternoon, simply came for entertainment.Current policies of government seem to serve the interests of those who own the means of production.

On top of that government's ongoing attempts at privatisation, its failure to stem the rise of inflation, one would not be entirely wrong to assume that workers find it difficult to continue aligning themselves with the alliance that proves to fail them.

Anyone who understands the history of South Africa will agree that it is not that the workers are happy to see this trend. They are merely disillusioned to find the government using them as tools for attaining votes, rather than as partners.

For as partners they could together confront the enemy of mass appropriation of profit and continuous exploitation of workers, head on for complete eradication.

Perhaps the alliance and the government in general have to begin returning back to the workers for advice.

That advice one can predict will argue for a worker centralised democracy whose principles are centred around the needs of the working men and women and whose form is dictated by the needs of the many rather than of the few.

This form of democracy is what the living and the dead workers of this country have gone through bullets and torture of all kinds simply to create a platform for a better life for all.

It is unquestionable that if the government can return to the principles that helped bring it to power some nine years ago, current fears that it is losing support from its members will be a thing of the past.

The alliance therefore has the duty to ensure that this trend is reversed by all means necessary.

Mphadile Pauline MohaleAdministrator, Vanderbijlpark Local


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