The Southern African Clothing &
Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is the largest trade union in the clothing, textile, leather and footwear industry in South Africa and globally, with just more than 85 000 members as at the end of February 2013.
My mother while working for Cape Underwear for many years was a member of the union who provided me the opportunity of obtaining a bursary to help pay my fees. In exchange for the bursary I was to do 100 hours of community service which I did by helping out at the SACTWU head office in Salt River Cape Town.
I completed my studies at CPUT in Cape Town obtaining a Btech: Taxation degree in 2010.
Last night I was awarded the opportunity, to my suprise, to be part of a gala event in celebrating 25 years of the unions existence and 20 years of democracy. It was an interesting event as I got to hear many stories from Mr Andre Kriel, SACTWU, General Secretary – 4 stories to be exact, we heard about the wage negotiations they went through in 1989 and laughed at the sense of humour of Mr Kriel.
The evening was all glits and glam, everyone dressed to the nines. It was attended by many VIP guests, members of the union, bursers such as myself and former Spring queen winners. We even had entertainment from Mi Casa live, yes the ladies went wild.
Minister Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Economic Development gave us a history lesson from inception of the union in 1989 taking us back to the riots for wage increases, giving us an overview of the successes and trials of the union. I sat in awe at the slide showing that people earned R60 a week and today they are earning R900 a week…yes this is not much but if you look at the difference you will realise what an impact the union has made in the lives of these ordinary clothing workers. We heard sad stories about a lady who lost her child at work and people marching for a 50 cents wage increase, to inspiring stories of how the SACTWU bursary fund helped a young man achieve his dream of becoming a doctor. To think that our parents started by adding 5 cents to the fund and today they can help many kids realise their dreams by helping with the fees.
While working at the SACTWU head office I helped clean out a room which was to become the cyber room and made many memories and even new friends some of which I am still in contact with today.
I also helped with the collecting of information for a history book one of the members were working on and even went on a ‘spy mission’ to China Town Ottery trying to encourage people to buy local as the influx of cheap imports were the reason for some of the clothing factories closing down at the time.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank SACTWU in helping me with finances towards my studies and showing me that I can make a difference in my community, I support the buying local campaign fully and encourage fellow South Africans to do the same we need to build our own country be the change we want to see in the world.
We should not only think about ourselves but practise Ubuntu – I am what I am because of who we all are.
“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of bieng human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human bieng in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this qaulity – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frquently as just individuals, seperated from on another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“A Traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?” – Nelson Mandela
Proudly South African.