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Unemployed Workers’ Union of SA turns 30

MILESTONE EVENT: Buffalo City Metro councillor Siyabonga Jabavu, third left, Unemployed Workers’ Union of South Africa president Jabu Ntus, fourth left, and other officials toast the union’s 30th anniversary in East London, yesterday Picture: MARK ANDREWS
MILESTONE EVENT: Buffalo City Metro councillor Siyabonga Jabavu, third left, Unemployed Workers’ Union of South Africa president Jabu Ntus, fourth left, and other officials toast the union’s 30th anniversary in East London, yesterday Picture: MARK ANDREWS
While President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet are doing all they can to save jobs in the mining industry and create thousands more elsewhere, the Unemployed Workers’ Union of South Africa yesterday celebrated its 30th anniversary.

The union’s president, Jabu Ntusi, said membership was growing in leaps and bounds, but this was nothing to be proud of.

“It’s true our membership has more than doubled if you compare it five years ago. In the Eastern Cape alone, we have received more than 10000 new members in 2015 alone,” he said.

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has facilitated a meeting between trade unions and mining houses to commit to limiting job losses.

Zuma convened a similar meeting on Tuesday, as the mining sector is threatening to shed thousands more jobs.

Ntusi said it did not cost anything to join the union and the 300000 members were made up of unemployed, retrenched, and contract workers.

Duncan Village resident Mlungisi Mpetsheni, 31, joined the union last month after realising it was an easy way to secure part-time work under the government-funded expanded public works programme.

“My friends said this is the quick way to get a job as a cleaner. I joined the union. I’m still waiting for my turn,” said Mpetsheni.

Ntusi said they tried to place members in various government programmes.

Asked how the union generated funds, Ntusi said two investment arms had been created and these generated funds which in turn “donate money and pay off our monthly rental for office space and other logistical needs”.

“They are also responsible for funding our events by arranging transport and donating T-shirts.

“We survive on donations.”

Yesterday’s celebrations were held at the union’s North Street offices and the event was attended by Buffalo City Metro officials and members. — Zine George

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