With the atmosphere lively and celebratory, thousands of people gathered yesterday at Vanderbijlpark’s Bophelong Stadium for the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) annual International Workers’ Day celebration.
With rallies held in all nine provinces, Cosatu members focused on living wages, unemployment and the hope to amend the national minimum wage.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said: “May Day signifies the struggles, sacrifices and victories of workers since 1886. It gives workers a platform to reflect on a time where workers stood up and demanded better working conditions and living wages.”
Many of the people gathered at Bophelong Stadium were clearly fuelling their celebrations with alcohol.
“I am just here to celebrate and have fun. This is our day and I’m here to celebrate this day,” said one Cosatu member.
Singing struggle songs and chanting incoherently, members held banners that affirmed their plea for emancipation and better rights for the working class.
“We are celebrating emancipation. It is important to commemorate the employees who were previously oppressed. Today, we see their freedom and what they fought for,” said South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu) leader Lazarus Molokeloa.
Some marched in groups, brandishing knobkerries and chanting: “We are tired! We want to be free from the struggle!”
Cosatu members marched to mining company ArcerlorMittal to hand over their proposed memorandum.