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CUPE has sent a strong message of support to striking workers in the municipality of Lesedi, about 60 km south of Johannesburg, South Africa.

“As you plan your national day of action later this month, we send you solidarity in your current struggle,” CUPE’s national leaders said in a letter to Petrus Mashishi, president of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU).

The strike of about 300 workers, now in its seventh week, has an all-too-familiar ring for many of the 560,000 CUPE members many of whom have faced similar workplace conflicts, wrote National President Paul Moist and National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Genereux.

“We know where we stand when it comes to local government officials who have forgotten their way and condoned the unfair treatment of public sector workers,” the letter said. Lesedi managers have received massive increases and bonuses, while refusing to meet the workers at the bargaining table to negotiate modest wage hikes. The workers have been threatened with dismissal.

“We stand strong with you in opposing these actions. As well, we are with you as you attempt to remind the councillors from the African National Congress of their roots in the workers’ community,” CUPE’s leaders wrote.

“We share the belief that a workers’ party should not lose touch with the workers and should continue to take advice from them. No progressive councillor should act against the interests of the people who elected them.”

The local community has shown strong support for the Lesedi strikers. A second public rally will be held this Thursday similar to the one held on April 25 when more than 3,000 people took to the streets.

CUPE and SAMWU are sister unions that work on projects of common interest. Both unions are affiliated to the 20-million-member Public Services International.