Reflecting On Worker’s Day From A South African Perspective

Worker’s day celebrates the role that workers play in the global economy and should remind us of the rights workers should enjoy. This is probably more important and relevant in South Africa than in most other countries, given the level of inequality we experience. Just to be clear, inequality is not about race but rather about the ”haves versus the have-nots”.

I live in the middle of a affluent security estate in Gauteng. This estate is 14 kilometers in circumference (I know this because I often cycle around the wall). There are 2 access gates to this estate and they are approximately 3 kilometres from my house – in opposite directions. Domestic workers walk to their place of work and back – some of them every day. The estate is located in a very hilly area which makes these walks particularly tough. This might not be a big deal for young people, but there are elderly people who clearly find this very difficult. At the same time most residents drive by in the large SUV’s and luxury sedans without bothering to give them a lift.

At a recent Annual General Meeting of our estate, it was proposed to buy a minibus that could assist with transporting workers. It was however voted against as some residents argued that they live close to the gate and should not have to pay for the transport of other residents’ workers. I know this sounds absurd, but unfortunately it is true.

It is naïve to think that the current levels of inequality are sustainable. Worker inequality needs to be addressed for South Africa to prosper. It is everyone’s responsibility to address the rights (and plights) of our workers, even in the smallest ways.

#WorkersDay #WorkersRights #Inequality

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