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May 01, 2013

Happy Workers’ Day!

Construction workers in South Africa. Photo courtesy of World Bank Photo Collection

Today is Workers' Day in South Africa – a public holiday that has its origins internationally, within the historical struggles of workers and their trade unions. 

The day celebrates the rights of workers, and recognises their struggle for fair working conditions and employment standards. It has been a holiday since 1994, and has ties to the International Workers' Day celebrations enjoyed in many other countries.

In pre-1994 South Africa, the demand for the annual observance of the day as a public holiday became a rallying point for workers and their trade unions, and was one of a number of significant dates to symbolise and mobilise resistance to the apartheid government and its racial policies.

Worker unions and the labour movement have always had close ties with the anti-apartheid struggle, and when political organisations were unbanned in early 1990, the African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) agreed to work together as a Revolutionary Alliance (known as the tripartite alliance).

While it is still an important day for workers in particular, it's a chance for all South Africans to have a day to themselves, and for those who do work, to enjoy a well-deserved break.

If you're looking for something to do in and around Cape Town today, check out our Events Calendar.

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