The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP) fully supports the public sector employees’ demands for a decent living wage and good working conditions.
We recognise that the strike action being undertaken by public sector workers comes after months of negotiations. Public sector unions have moderated their demands to a 8.6% wage increase and R1000 housing allowance. We also recognise that striking, historically and currently, is one of the only means of mobilising by workers once reasonable demands are not met.
We condemn the government and those in the seats of parliament who decry public sector workers, yet have spent months stalling and being resistant to the requests made by public sector unions. The cost of the World Cup, gladly taken on by government, would have been enough to pay the housing allowance for almost two and a half million workers for five years.
As the LGEP we acknowledge that attempts to stall the strike by bringing in, mostly unpaid volunteers, is crossing the picket line. The burden under which public healthcare workers, doctors and nurses have to carry out their work is unbearable. HIV/AIDS, TB and other infectious diseases are overwhelming our hospitals and clinics. Posts have been frozen for years leading to a shortage of personnel. It is estimated that there is a shortage of more than 80,000 healthcare workers. Public sector doctors often work a 36 hour shift and at current levels there is just 1 doctor for every 3,800 people that use the public healthcare system. Operating theatres and trauma units are often closed due to lack of supplies.
In a country with one of the largest discrepancies between the rich and poor in the world, upholding that quality education and healthcare be accessible only to the rich is an affront on dignity, our history and the majority of people in this country.
The public sector strike has the full support of the LGEP. We call on all queers, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people across the country to join striking workers in their demands against miserable working conditions and wages.
The way to end the strike and to begin to ensure long-term quality healthcare and education for those in our country is for government to stop the intimidation of strikers, agree to their demands and begin to seriously address the major discrepancies between the private and public healthcare and education systems.
Lesbian and Gay Equality Project
Tel: 011 487 3810/1