As we commemorate Worker’s Day, how can we ever forget the gallant struggles of the glorious and toiling masses of workers against an oppressive apartheid labour system. If we don’t do this – if we forget, we will never be able to appreciate and celebrate the milestones of victories in the continuous journey for the improvement of working conditions.

The battle for improved rights in the workplace which was always intertwined with the struggle for social justice, freedom, and democracy, has come a long way. Great strides have been made since 1994 to transform the labour legislative landscape to eliminate restrictive and oppressive labour laws to ensure progressive laws that guarantees rights such as freedom of association, collective bargaining, right to strike and workplace freedom.

However, while we recognise these great strides since the birth of democracy, we also acknowledge that much more still needs to be done to ensure our working class truly enjoy the fruits of our maturing democracy.

We are obliged by our political history to work together, united in our diversity, to build a better country; to build an economy that takes care of our people by absorbing more people into the labour market, guaranteeing job security, decent wages, and labour rights. The objectives and goals of the Freedom Charter and the National Development Plan, of a truly non-racial, non-sexist, and prosperous nation, requires united efforts towards ultimate fulfilment.

Bringing the Worker’s Day message home, to the workers of the GPL, let us remember that with the rights we vehemently claim, also comes responsibilities that we should discharge with equal energy and passion. We have a responsibility to work in a manner as set out in our respective contracts, to remain honest in all our matters and benefits claims, to claim only that amount of remuneration that we are legally entitled to, and to treat our place of work and fellow employees with the respect and decorum that is characteristic of the Legislature.

As the GPL, we continue to improve the legislative landscape to include and consolidate workers’ voices into our policy making processes, especially through Sector Dialogues such as the Workers Parliament where we create a space for workers across the spectrum to bring their issues and concerns to the Legislature.

In consolidating the gains by the workers, we call upon the workers to vote in numbers in the forthcoming national election on 29 May 2024.

Honourable Lentheng Mekgwe, Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature