Port Elizabeth – Workers are still being exploited by labour brokers, are underpaid and deserve a minimum wage of at least R4 500, Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema said on Friday.
“Everything we have in our lives is due to workers. The food you eat is produced by the workers, the clothes you wear, the cars you drive, your house you have, your safety, are all provided by the workers,” he said at the party’s Worker’s Day rally in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth.
“When we speak of the workers, we don’t refer to everyone who is working. We in the EFF refer to those working in the industries, the domestic workers, the farm workers, the cleaners, the most exploited people who call themselves workers.
“We refer to those who are victims of crime committed by labour brokers. They go to work, work very hard, but at the end of every month they are given half of their salaries, because half has been taken by the labour brokers,” he said.
‘We must abolish labour brokers’
Malema said the EFF wanted a law to have labour brokers abolished.
“We don’t say this now when we are in the EFF, we said this when we were in the ANC.
“At Polokwane, we took the decision that we must abolish labour brokers. That was the ticket which [Jacob] Zuma used to win as president. After Polokwane elected him, he immediately forgot about the issue of labour brokers,” he said, referring to the ANC’s elective conference in December 2007.
“They said no, the resolution was that we must ‘manage’ the labour brokers. There was no such resolution. We don’t want labour brokers. We said that then and we still say the same thing today.”
Labour brokers were “blood suckers”, he said.
“Why do they suck the blood of the workers? Because workers are black people. If workers were white people, we are not going to have blood suckers like labour brokers in South Africa.”
‘A temporary worker for 19 years’
Malema said the EFF would fight until all workers’ rights were valued and protected.
“We don’t want this thing of workers being on contract permanently. Being a temporary worker for 19 years, it can’t be correct.”
Malema said they had raised the issue of temporary workers being given permanent jobs during debate on the state of the nation address.
“When [President Jacob Zuma] responded, he said there are no longer workers in South Africa who have been temporary for more than three months.
“We were all shocked with that response, but maybe he was talking about the Nkandla workers, and not the workers of South Africa. Maybe in Nkandla everyone is working permanently,” he said to cheers from the crowd.
‘That’s not money’Maybe in Nkandla everyone is working permanently,
Malema said it was shocking that people still earned a minimum wage of R2 800 a month.
“That’s not money. That’s transport money. You can’t even afford to buy yourself a lunch with that money.”
Malema said the EFF, as the voice of black workers, wanted a minimum wage of R4 500 a month.
“We must challenge these EFF members of Parliament, that next year when we celebrate Workers Day, they must come with their domestic workers, and those domestic workers of the EFF members of Parliament must tell us how much they are being paid, because it must start with us,” he said.
Malema claimed that no domestic worker employed by an EFF member earned less than R4 500 a month, or had gone a month without being paid.
“It must start with us. We must lead by example.”
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