Amcu slams Cosatu for giving Ramaphosa the stage on Workers’ Day

In a statement on Monday Amcu said it would not commemorate Workers Day on May 1. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

In a statement on Monday Amcu said it would not commemorate Workers Day on May 1. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has taken aim at trade union federation Cosatu for allowing President Cyril Ramaphosa to address workers at their May Day celebration.

In a statement on Monday Amcu said it would not commemorate Workers Day on May 1. Instead it wants August 12 to be declared a public holiday, in commemoration of the 34 striking mineworkers killed by the police in Marikana on that day. The union’s statement also criticised Ramaphosa who is expected to address Cosatu’s main rally on Tuesday at Nelson Mandela Bay.

Amcu said that last year, then-president Jacob Zuma was not allowed to address workers “on the basis of principle, which deemed him as having violated his oath of office under a cloud of corruption accusations”.

“If Cosatu was consistent they would use the same principled approach to review the address by the current State President; a champion in neo-liberal minimum wage as well as oppressive labour relations amendments and a conflicted Lonmin (Marikana) Massacre associate who is yet to tender his apology,” Amcu said.

Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla responded to Amcu’s statement, telling the Mail & Guardian that summoning the Marikana tragedy is a way of “scoring cheap political points”.

He said what happened at Marikana was a grave tragedy and that trade unions should reflect on how they let down workers in 2012. But Workers’ Day ought to be an opportunity for debating the pressing policy questions that affect workers today and not about leaders’ egos.

He said that Amcu is “not partaking in discourse that reflects on the current state of workers rights in South Africa”.

“The future looks gloomy for workers, especially for those working in the mining sector,” Pamla said.

“We have far bigger problems to solve. Why aren’t they addressing the mining charter or the mechanisation of the mining industry — which stands to affect thousands of jobs?”

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit both subs and writes for the Mail & Guardian. She joined the M&G after completing her master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Cape Town. She is interested in the literature of the contemporary black diaspora and its intersection with queer aesthetics of solidarity. Her recent work considers the connections between South African literary history and literature from the rest of the Continent. Read more from Sarah Smit

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