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Source: South Africa News Agency

Parliament’s Presiding Officers have called on companies to ensure that workers are protected and strictly observe COVID-19 regulations as well as all labour laws.   

“All efforts must be made to ensure conducive environments which are safe and hygienic for the workers,” Presiding Officers, Thandi Modise and Amos Masondo said.

This call was made as certain sectors of the country’s economy opens and various categories of workers are set to return to workplaces today, following weeks of complete lockdown, to slow down the rate of COVID-19 infections.

The Presiding Officers said the COVID-19 impact on workers in South Africa, in the continent and across the world, is one of the most devastating health and socio-economic crisis the world of work has ever experienced. 

“The aftermath of this virus will be hurtful to the poor and the working class, particularly the low-wage workers, amongst others. In South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic has more graphically highlighted the depth of the triple challenges facing our nation – inequality, poverty and unemployment.

“The global crisis has thus made it imperative and urgent to confront with these challenges, more sharply than ever before, as an integral part of fighting the pandemic,” the Presiding officers said.

Human solidarity and unity will be required to defeat the resultant sociopath-economic challenges that will remain after the pandemic.

“South African working class has consistently affirmed the principle that workplace struggles cannot be separated from broader societal developmental efforts. The unity of the workers and the working class during this time is more paramount than ever, as historically affirmed by the famous rallying cry, workers of the world unite.”

The Presiding Officers also commended government for its bold and necessary intervention, in the form of the R500 billion set aside for injection into the economy, to assist with cushioning the enormous socio-economic effects of COVID-19.

This includes relief for people who have been hit hard by the virus, the unemployed and companies.

Tribute to labour force

Modise and Masondo paid tribute to all the workers, as the country observes the 2020 International Workers’ Day.

On this day, they said their solidarity is with all the workers as they toil under the precarious COVID-19 conditions, both remotely behind the gates of their residences and formal physical workplaces.

A special tribute was also paid to essential workers who are at the forefront of the national battle against the spread of COVID-19. These include health care practitioners, law enforcement officers, retail workers, community workers, scientists and the military.

“Theirs is commendable passion driven patriotism, selflessness and love for humanity demonstrated. We are convinced that as a united front, victory against COVID-19 is certain. We owe it to our forebears who fought hard and protracted battles in South Africa and across the world for workers’ rights and social justice over the past centuries.

“We also owe it to future generations of workers to conquer this health and economic crisis with minimum negative impact on our nation and families,” Modise and Masondo said. –

MIL OSI Africa