1987: Basebenzi Masimanyane

Cosatu - 1987 Calendar

Congress of South African Trade Unions: 1987 Calendar

In 1987, COSATU conducted a two-day strike during the general elections in May as part of its Living Wage Campaign. More than 2.5 million workers took part. Later that month, their headquarters were bombed. Although the apartheid regime’s state media claimed that COSATU itself had perpetrated the bombing, it was later revealedduring the Truth and Reconciliation Commissionthat Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok and other state officials were responsible.

In August, 340,000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the largest affiliate of COSATU, launched a 21-day strike against the gold mining industrythe largest strike in the history of South Africa. Management and the state reacted harshly, sending in police and armored trucks to assault workers. Tens of thousands of workers were fired and the union was forced to accept less than a living wage.

Throughout the 80’s, COSATU played a major role in the struggle against apartheid. Activists and shop stewards were leaders in their community and were crucial in the movement for liberation and democracy.

Ilizwe lelethu basebenzi masimanyane
Solimetyeni kudala sisebenz’ ababhulu mahala,
basebenzi masimanyane
Amandla nga wethu yebasebenzi, basebenzi masimanyane

This country is ours, workers we must unite
We shall plough on the rock we have been working for white farmers for free,
Workers we must unite
The power is our workers, workers we must unite

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