President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday morning participated in Cosatu’s International Workers’ Day celebrations.
The virtual event to honour the struggle of workers’ rights in South Africa happened amid a deadlock between the government and unions in the public sector over wage negotiations.
Ramaphosa delivered the ANC’s message of support to workers while Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi gave the main address at Cosatu House in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
SACP general-secretary Blade Nzimande also took part in the May Day event.
WATCH LIVE: Cosatu’s Workers’ Day 2021 celebrations, courtesy of SABC News
Unions threaten to strike
Unions in the public service are threatening to embark on mass industrial action over workers’ demand for a 7.1% wage increase.
This after the government stuck to its 0% wage hike and presented a revised offer that included a review of allowances and leave for public servants at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) last month.
Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu has described the wage talks as the most difficult in years due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the state’s coffers and the need for urgent reforms in the public service.
The minister has called on citizens to come forward with proposals to resolve the deadlock between government and unions.
Cosatu and its affiliate, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), have already backed calls for Mchunu to be removed from office over the impasse.
Public sector unions have also filed papers in the Constitutional Court to appeal the Labour Appeal Court’s ruling from December 2020, which sided with government over its reasons not to implement the final leg of the 2018 wage agreement with unions.
The case is expected to be heard later this year in August.