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Major unions join high-level transport symposium in South Africa

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27 February, 2020Being organized and working together is how we make the biggest impact, said IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches at a transport symposium in Johannesburg, South Africa, focusing on how to appeal to the 76 percent of transport workers in the country that are unorganized.

South African transport workers face many challenges including violence against women workers, unsafe working conditions, failing infrastructure and a chronic lack of investment

The purpose of the symposium was to see if there was a desire to build unity among unions to address these issues for the benefit of organised and unorganised workers.

Jack Mazibuko, general secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), attended the event:

When the unions don’t work together, we send a confused message to the people we are supposed to represent. We need to put our differences to one side and focus on advancing the interests of working people.”

ITF general secretary, Stephen Cotton, spoke at the symposium:

“We understand the impact that a strong message of unity among South African unions would have on unorganised workers. The outcomes from the symposium have gone beyond our expectations and give you the opportunity to change things for the better for working people here.”

Leaders at the symposium agreed in principle a declaration that would establish a forum in which all the unions would develop a common theme and a day of action collectively.

Participants also committed to ensure that the new forum would focus on initiatives to involve women and young workers in those areas in the forum. Currently, both women and young workers are under represented in South Africa’s transport sector.

Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said:

“Unity is key. We must overcome old structures and divisions and focus collectively on the issues that all working people are facing. Transportation and manufacturing are directly linked through supply chains and economic employers. By being organized and working together we can make a big impact.”

The event was supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.