SAMWU Salutes Women of 1956

8 August 2017

SAMWU Salutes Women of 1956

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) joins the broader South African public in saluting the courageous women of 1956 and commemorating this year’s National Women’s Day on the 9th August.

On the 9th August 1956 around 20 000 courageous women including the likes of Lillian Ngoyi, Hellen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophie Williams gathered in Pretoria to march to the offices of the then South African Prime Minster J.G Strijdom to deliver a petition with over 100 000 signatures against the unjust pass law, it is as a result of their courageous acts that today all South Africans are enjoying the fruits of freedom in a very robust democratic country.

South Africa remains indebted to the women of 1956, it was as a result of their decision that they would no longer tolerate this unjust laws which were designed to limit black South Africans’ freedom, a decision which made a historic mark in South Africa which laid the foundations for a free and a democratic country.

61 years after this action, women’s rights are however violated on a daily basis ranging from discrimination, femicide and sexual abuse. As a trade union, we are concerned by the growing attacks on women particularly the violent attacks, the unfair discrimination which they are on a daily basis subjected to in the workplace and the lack of their representation in senior positions and management.

Statistically, women constitutes over half of the country’s population, however their representatively in management structures does not reflect this. It has become public knowledge that most women are paid far less than their male counterparts who are doing the same job, under the same working conditions. For every rand that a man makes, it is alleged that a woman would make around 70 cents while essentially preforming the same duties.

According to the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa, only 4% of CEOs are women, 6% chairpersons and 18% directors. As a result, women in an attempt to feed their families subjected to precarious work with no social benefits and protection. This is among some of the reasons why SAMWU has and continues to reject privatisation of state institutions and municipal services especially in local government. The privatization of these services has resulted in the emergence of a class of Tenderpreneurs at the expense of workers, mostly women who are being paid slave wages.

We have also noted that majority of participants of exploitative schemes such as the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Community Works Programme (CWP) are women. These programmes have added on the increased precarity of the workplace.

It is for this reason that SAMWU remains opposed to the provisions of municipal services through EPWP and CWP. We believe that municipalities should be absorbing these participants on a permanent basis in the interest of creative decent jobs for South Africans.

As we commemorate this years’ National Women’s Day, we should reflect on the challenges that women face on a daily basis and how we as society can come together and tackle such. We therefore urge the Department of Women in the Presidency to intensify their campaigns on emancipating and empowering women.

As for the violence directed at women, we believe that the time is now for all to come together and say enough is enough. We are interested in seeing a society that respects women and treats them with the dignity and fairness they deserve particularly in the workplace and their representativity in the economy.

Issued by SAMWU Head Office
Papikie Mohale
National Media Officer
073 710 0356