Workers continue to believe in the ANC government despite it being slow in addressing inequality and injustice, said National Union of Metalworkers’ of SA (Numsa) president Cedric Gcine on Saturday.
“Our ANC government is not moving swiftly enough to address inequality and injustices. It has been more than two years after the watershed Polokwane conference, which pronounced on economic policies … but nothing much has happened on the policy front in government,” he said at the funeral service of former union president Mthuthuzeli Tom in East London.
“Economic freedom is still a pipe dream for many South Africans. It is really unfortunate and sad that 16 years into democracy, we have not begun to have a clear path to economic freedom for our people.”
Despite these challenges, workers continue to believe in the ANC, he said.
“There are still problems with police who intimidate and arrest our members during peaceful strikes … our country is sliding towards becoming a police state.”
Gcine was referring to the three week public-service strike which has crippled state hospitals, disrupted schooling ahead of matric exams, and been marred by violence in parts of the country.
Union leaders on Friday said South Africans would have to wait the weekend to find out if the industrial action would enter its fourth week or if union members accept government’s latest wage offer of 7,5%.
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said their members’ initial rejection of the offer may have been based on incomplete information and it wanted to explain the finer points to workers over the weekend.
It hoped to have an answer for government on Monday.
Tom died last week of natural causes in St Dominic’s Hospital in East London.
Gcine said he was a family man, a “great teacher” and an “inspiring” leader.
“We have suffered an immense loss. Our grief is boundless.” – Sapa