OTTAWA ― The President of the Canadian Labour Congress says that workers everywhere are mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa and leader of the African National Congress (ANC).
“Canadians will forever remember the courage and dignity of a statesman who devoted his life to end South Africa’s system of apartheid, the legalized racial discrimination against black South Africans,” says CLC President Ken Georgetti.
“One of my proudest moments as a trade unionist is when I met Mr. Mandela and he told me that without the solidarity and the pressure of the international labour movement, and in particular the Canadian trade union movement, apartheid would have continued longer in South Africa,” Georgetti says.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, thousands of Canadian trade unionists took part in anti-apartheid actions in their workplaces and their communities to pressure the Canadian government to take action against South Africa. “The fight against apartheid will go down in history as one of the most visible demonstrations of international solidarity by workers in Canada and around the world,” says Georgetti.
In 1994 a CLC delegation was sent to observe South Africa’s historic first multi-racial elections. “Our delegation watched as millions of South African lined up for hours to cast their votes as citizens for the first time in their lives,” Georgetti says. “We watched with pride when Mr. Mandela was inaugurated on May that year as South Africa’s first truly democratically elected president. He led South Africa’s first elected non-racial government from 1994 to 1999.”
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Nelson Mandela in 1993, and symbolized the great respect and admiration he had earned from the world community. Georgetti adds, “His legacy, a united South Africa, and inspiration to us all to be better citizens, will live on.”
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour