What about the workers?

Posted on September 24, 2012


Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini started his closing remarks at the end of the federation’s 11th national congress last week by thanking “Gallagher Estate [and] particularly the workers who gave us excellent service”.  The service by a small army of waiters and kitchen staff was indeed excellent, especially considering that the congress never kept to meal time schedules and the staff were on duty from 6am until 9pm, much of their time spent having to wait around as session after session was delayed.

What Dlamini did not mention was that the bulk of the staff were casual workers, revealing practically why a ban on casual work — temporary jobs at times of need —  is probably unworkable.  But what none of the nearly 3 000 delegates seemed to know was that most of these casual workers had to leave their homes in Soweto by 4am each day in order to get to the conference centre at Gallagher Estate.

Nor did anyone apparently ask any of the serving staff if they had ever been approached to join a union, let alone whether they were unionised.  They are not and most complained, when asked, about pay at a claimed R5 an hour.

Posted in: Commentary