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Workers’ rally remembers HIV-Aids victims

Resource type: News

The New Age | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

by France Nyaka

The devastating HIV pandemic gripping South Africa was one of the key themes of the May Day rally in Witbank on Saturday, with labour unions and non-governmental organisation urging workers to practise safe sex.

Workers in union regalia, from all over the Ekangala district were seen in Witbank, one of Mpumalanga’s biggest industrial towns known for its coal mines.

Unions are strong in the region because of the large number of mines and power stations around Witbank and in smaller towns such as Ogies. The concentration of workers has lead to an increase in prostitution and a rise in the rate of HIV infections in the area.

The event was attended by Cosatu, SACP, ANC and government leaders, including provincial MEC for local government Madala Masuku, unionists and representatives of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). A candlelit ceremony with a moment’s silence was held in memory of workers who had died from HIV-Aids.

“The infection has claimed the lives of many workers. We are also showing support and love for those still living with the infection.

“We are against the exploitation of infected workers by their employers,” said Thandi Maluka of TAC.

Sunday’s event was also used by Cosatu, a key ally of the ruling party, to urge its members to support the ANC in the coming local government elections.

Cosatu leaders slammed corruption in government, saying it was bound to reverse workers’ gains because would impede the delivery of services that people, needed.

Treatment Action Campaign is an Atlantic grantee.

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