Deputy President David Mabuza on Tuesday said South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) was deeply concerned about the major imbalances between the incomes of workers in South Africa in comparison with those who occupy executive positions.
"The ANC is very concerned about the disparity between incomes of executives and incomes of workers. We are adamant that this issue must be addressed as soon as possible as we must not perpetuate a situation where those at the top continue to live in utmost luxury whilst the working class continues to languish in poverty," Mabuza said at a Workers Day commemoration in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
"On this May Day, we are also here to tell the bosses of our vast land to sit back, see, feel and care for the plight of their workers; to call for a sense of shared humanity, to tame our relentless pursuit of wealth and obscene profits in a sea of poverty"
He called on employers to treasure their employees and to realise that they are men and women seeking an honest living through hard work.
"These are people who work hard but struggle to see real progress. They are South Africans who wish to wake up every morning with the pride and dignity of pulling themselves up by their boot straps. They are compatriots who want to do an honest day's work," said Mabuza.
"These are men and women of immense faith. They want to have something to show for their daily toil. And so they pray to leave a proud legacy for their children."
The deputy president also appealed to employers and companies to heighten safety within the workplaces.
"South African workers deserve employers who will guarantee their safety in the workplace; employers that will assure families that workers will return home well and wholesome. We yearn for more caring and ethical employers who are invested in their workers returning home tall with their bodily integrity and not cold in a coffin," he said.
"We want workplaces that allow women to breastfeed; to have time to nurture future generations; where to raise a child does not mean stunting of growth, promotion or opportunity. We want equal pay for men and women, black and white, for equal work and equal contribution. We want workplaces that will punish and call out sexual predation; empower women to grow without bequests of sexual favours and rendering the female body an economic enterprise."
He said workers must be allowed time to get home in time "to put their children to bed, in time to assist with homework, in time to attend school parents’ consultation and with time to play on weekends".
For government's part, Mabuza said the R3 500 minimum salary was not sufficient, but it was a step in the right direction.
"We know that a minimum wage of R3 500 cannot sustain the family; we know it subjects the worker to the pain of having to come home empty handed; but at least today we have determined the floor from which we need to move and do better," he said.
"Government must still do its part to ensure that it lowers the burden of VAT and other taxes on the poor. But this we cannot achieve without your involvement. It is still your struggle to wage, it is still your vision to create, and your destiny to reach. It is by the courage of your convictions and solidarity that we learn to become one nation with one purpose."