South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday praised the country’s workers for their great sacrifice during the current coronavirus pandemic which he said had severely affected them in terms of job losses and lives.The president said this when he virtually addressed the workers at the Congress of South African Trade Unions offices in Johannesburg to commemorate Workers’ Day which falls 1 May annually.
“Frontline workers such as medical personnel, the police, teachers and other staff members in the public service, and workers in the retail sector, have put their lives on the line during the height of the pandemic to keep the country going,” Ramaphosa said.
He added: “We salute these heroes and heroines of our country that have sacrificed their own lives so that we can live.”
Ramaphosa, however, warned that the country’s workers faced the risk of experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 infections during coming winter months as currently witnessed in Asia and South America.
“The rising number in Covid-19 infections, deaths and ongoing health emergencies going on in India and the looming crisis in Brazil make an urgent and highly visible case for developing countries to be given access to the means to produce vaccines themselves,” he said.
He noted that many developing countries have the capacity and would be able to manufacture their own vaccines much more quickly, much more effectively, efficiently and much cheaper if given a chance to do so.
He encouraged the workers to unite and compel developed countries and large pharmaceutical companies to display more social solidarity in addressing the pandemic by passing on the know-how to produce the coronavirus drugs in the developing world.
Workers’ Day dates back to the late 1890s when workers in the industrialised world rose up to demand from employers the recognition of their rights and economic contribution to their countries by improving their welfare.