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Last updated: 06 February 2019

Food And Allied Workers’ Union Statement On Its 78th Anniversary & 37th Commemoration Of The Death Of Its Leader, Dr. Neil Aggett

6 February 2019

The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) is celebrating its 78th anniversary and commemorating the 37th year of death of one of its leaders, Dr Neil Aggett who used to be the Transvaal Regional Secretary, under our predecessor, the Food and Canning Workers Union (FCWU) established 6 February 1941. Dr. Neil Aggett was murdered in police custody on 5th February 1982.

We owe, as FAWU, our heritage to the hard working role of and contribution by Ray Alexander-Simon who founded FCWU and was its first General Secretary back in February 1941. Through commemorating the death of Dr Neil Aggett who was murdered by Apartheid security forces back in 1982, we celebrate his life and times as well as his heroic sacrifice to the cause of workers.

FAWU, or then FCWU, was a force to reckon with and became central in engineering the formation of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) in April 1955. It produced leaders for the liberation struggle, from Oscar Mpetha and Liz Abrahams to Elizabeth Mafikeng and Frances Baard right to David Maseko as well as Jay Naidoo and Chris Dlamini. In fact, Dr Neil Aggett was a medical doctor by day, a trade unionist and an underground operative at night. He also became the first white political prisoner to be murdered by Apartheid security forces in prison and to be buried by 20 000 black workers in February 1982 during which the flag of the ANC was defiantly displayed.

If anything, FAWU calls on the Hawks to mount relentless investigations to those who murdered Dr Aggett and for the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to prosecute perpetrators, some of which are not only roaming the streets but are making security and other businesses with the state and state-owned companies.

We resolve to campaign against the status-quo and for the defeat of neoliberal ideology as it has brought misery to humanity rather than development and rising living standards.
We will intensify our efforts in this regard in light of dire socio-economic conditions as characterized by triple-crises of widening inequality, deepening poverty and rising unemployment as well as lack of access to quality health care and education facilities.

For more information and clarification please free to contact the writer FAWU General Secretary Katishi Masemola on 082 467 2509 at your earliest convenience.

Released by Dominique Martin, FAWU Media Liaison Officer- 082 498 5631