President Cyril Ramaphosa has conceded that the government’s reprioritisation of its spending due to poor economic activity has affected its ability to deal with the public sector wage negotiations.

Talks between government and unions representing employees in the public sector ended in a deadlock last month.

Unions are demanding a 7% hike but the government is offering a 0% increase, saying it has no funds for salary increases.

Speaking at the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) House in Johannesburg where he joined the labour federation in Workers’ Day celebrations, Ramaphosa says government must urgently resolve the wage negotiations impasse with public sector unions.

“This precarious economy has also had an impact on our ability to finalise a wage deal with public servants. We do heed the call that we must do more to return to the bargaining table with a view of finding a solution…and have through negotiation with labour in this regard. The ANC government reaffirms its commitment to collective bargaining.”

This is the second year the celebrations have been held virtually due to the pandemic.

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses Cosatu’s  Workers’ Day celebrations: 

Tripartite alliance

In his capacity as African National Congress (ANC) president, Ramaphosa has reiterated that a united tripartite alliance is necessary to lead the campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s economic recovery. He says the ANC government will work with the alliance during the local government elections.

IN: “A united alliance made of people movements is still the best force to drive the national democratic revolution.”

Possible third wave 

Ramaphosa has warned of a possible third wave of COVID- 19 infections this winter. He says the government’s rollout of its vaccination programme to the country’s population must happen as quickly as possible.

He has urged workers to put pressure on big pharmaceutical companies to make vaccines easily accessible in developing countries.

“SA, in particular, must be alive to the real risk of experiencing a third wave of COVID infections during winter. Workers of the world must unite to compel large pharmaceutical companies  to display more social solidarity in addressing this pandemic, we call on Cosatu to intensify their efforts in SA and throughout the world.”

Ramaphosa paid tribute to the country’s workers saying they have sacrificed their lives during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that others are safe. He has called for workers to unite as the country celebrates May Day.

The day, which workers around the world observe is known as Labour Day in most countries. It is aimed at celebrating the achievement of workers and highlighting the challenges they continue to face.

The history of Workers’ Day:

 

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Urgent access to vaccines

Ramaphosa says the rising number of coronavirus infections and deaths in India and the looming crisis in Brazil make a strong and urgent case for developing countries to be given access to the resources to produce vaccines themselves.

He says assisting developing countries to start manufacturing vaccines would empower them to improve their fight against the pandemic.

” Many developing countries have the capacity and will be able to manufacture their own vaccines much more quickly, efficiently and much more cheaper. South Africa, in particular, must be alive to the real risk of experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections during winter.”