SATUCC President, Zingiswa Losi’ address to workers of the Southern
Dear Comrades and fellow workers,
Today is the 1st of May, which is international workers day. The day that marks a truly fitting tribute to the pains and struggles workers endure all over the world, not least in our own region, Southern Africa.
We take this opportunity to express our sincere condolences to fellow workers, who fell in line of duty saving our people from the COVID 19 pandemic during this lockdown moment throughout the SADC region. May their souls rest in true peace!
We are in the middle of the most depressing social and economic crisis, punctuated by the havoc-wreaking pandemic, COVID 19.
Our region, as is the whole world, is going through the horror of the devastating pandemic, the novel coronavirus whose impact is being felt in every sphere, community, sector, home, workplace and society.
SATUCC is coordinating one of the most massive responses workers have had to endure in recent years and we remain proud of the legacy.
We are proud of the great work, tireless efforts and bravery of frontline workers who are facing the crisis and saving lives from it, in this region – literally in every country in the SADC region – and globally.
We are following the statistics and indicators of lives being lost in our various countries and throughout the region on a daily basis and we can attest to the tragic impact we are facing. Workers who save lives are themselves the frontline target of the pandemic.
We are actively mobilising that all social formations, organisations, religious persuasions, labour and community organisations, students and youth movements, women and rural people’s organisations and all of us, regardless of race, class and creed should know that we are facing one common enemy and that is COVID 19 . It’s a battle we must win and shall win, at all costs.
But such a battle requires that governments and employers recognise their responsibilities in this life and death matter, which is to provide the necessary equipment, ensure health and safety standards in all workplaces, as well as provide the incomes necessary for workers and their families to live.
In this regard, almost all our countries, to varying extents, have had workers in the frontlines being exposed to lack of Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs), supportive means of transport, logistics and proper facilities, particularly in rural areas and many other such needs.
We are witnessing the unprecedented levels of Gender Based Violence and abuse of children during these lockdown moments.
We are proud of the work being done by all workers as they have made all of us realise the importance or essential contribution workers make, from nurses, doctors, police, soldiers and many retail workers in food and health outlets. It is for that reason that we call n all employers and governments to recognise and do all possible to improve the working and living conditions of workers in general.
However, we also note that in some instances, security forces have acted outside the required norms and standards, at times under the instructions of self-serving elites in countries where there is no democracy or abuse of power. We condemn the behaviour and abuse of ordinary citizens to brutalise people, even as we recognise the importance of real behavioural changes required in society to ward off the deadly virus and in general.
We are fighting multiple wars during these trying times, amongst others;
A war to flatten the COVID 19 Curve and, ultimately eradicate the pandemic
A war to flatten the war against the vicious triple crisis; Poverty, unemployment and Inequalities
A war to end ignorance, mis-information and dis-information
A war for the dignity of workers and the poor
A war for true equality between men and women and an end to abuse and violence of any form and against anyone
A war against multinational companies seeking to profit from disease and human suffering, instead of investing in human development and accessible public health for all
COVID 19 – One Big Health School for all!
There are several lessons we must and should learn from the shutdown moment in the region, amongst which are;
Public health is a very important sector and requires major investment to develop its capacity to fight such pandemic and in general ensure health for all the people. In this regard, we call for a very comprehensive regional health system, in which each country must allocate massive resources towards public healthcare and systems.
Now that we know that its workers who keep us alive, protect us, save our lives and look after us as they clean, provide food, transport us, dig wealth from the ground, produce in farms and cook for us, we must accordingly regard workers as national heroes and reward or compensate their efforts accordingly. Now we know that true celebrities are ordinary workers!
Corrupt and self-serving elites in several of our countries have been forced to realise that with the whole world in crisis, they shall live or die with us here! . No more running away from your people to some safe heavens and healthy islands in distant lands. We shall live or die together here!
The Private sector and its profit-driven orientation and massive infrastructure that serves so few, rich and connected elites has been drawn closer to the reality of an extremely under-developed, not-for-profit and mass serving public health system whose
condition risks the whole society, including their well-to-do clientele. Let us build a well- resourced, capable and dignified health system for all now, whose workers are the priority investment and resource!
The Political economy of health has exposed the reality that political and economic systems depends on health and life and it’s a healthy people that can survive to produce tomorrow or save nations and themselves . No more pharmaceutical parasitism and profiting from disease than investing in human development and public health for all!
Health and decent livelihoods should be the norm and standard of life, hence the urgency of a sustained school curricula that instils the values and culture of high standards of hygiene and respect for the environment that serves us. The food we eat, the conditions under which we work, the lives we live, the communities we come from and the places of social habitation, must all be turned into healthy nests and decent places for all. A healthy and productive workforce is a condition for a healthy and productive economy and people!
No one country can ring-fence itself from the highly globalised world we all share as human beings and therefore, the plight of other people and humanity in general is our common concern and responsibility. Care, solidarity and compassion for others, is the only guarantee for our health and sustainable livelihood for all!
The workplace will never be the same. We have been talking about the Future of work and the 4IR as if they were so distant, without realising that they are here and we are already living through them. We cannot postpone anything any further. We must change our work systems, style and orientation of work, attitude about work and results, design of service to people and improvement of workers skills to serve and improve their living and working conditions, as well as that of the whole community.
A democratic, developmental and capable state is very important to confronting any and all forms of abuse, corruption, parasitism, looting and self-serving interests. We must build a new culture of a state that serves the needs and interests of the poor and working masses. “All and everything for the people and nothing against them” – Fidel Castro
With all these important lessons and experiences from the coronavirus pandemic, we are confident, we shall emerge stronger, bolder and wiser. New decisions, new hopes, new inspirations. From a crisis, the best lessons are derived and from the worst experiences emerge the best teachings and insights.
We call on all workers to unite and use this moment to strengthen workers organisations, to strengthen workers rights and knowledge about their overall situation.
As we do so, we must decisively build our capacity to challenge and overcome the crisis of poverty, unemployment, inequalities, as well as all and every form of abuse and corruption.
We also take this opportunity to salute all those countries, peoples and organisations that, in the midst of this severe crises put their finest sons and daughters at the service of other human beings, in this case, Cuba remains outstanding and we shall always be grateful to your great service and teachings. Cuba invested in her people and not in wars against other people! A Profound lesson for humanity.
“Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life” – Albert Einstein