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Steelworkers Humanity Fund Supports the Rebuilding of the Casual Workers Advice Office, Destroyed During Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

TORONTO – The Steelworkers Humanity Fund has contributed $3,000 to rebuild the Casual Workers Advice Office in Johannesburg, which was ransacked and looted during the most recent wave of xenophobic violence that has taken place in the country.

Earlier this month, South Africa’s migrant population has been the target of a series of attacks targeting mainly foreign-owned shops, in what has become an increasingly common occurrence, linked with the country’s high unemployment rate.

In the midst of those deadly attacks, the destruction of the office of the Casual Workers Advice Office (CWAO) appears to be no coincidence. Founded in 2011, CWAO is a non-profit, independent organization that has been providing free advice and support to workers, privileging casual, contract, labour broker and other precarious workers – many of them undocumented.

In a statement issued the day after the attack, the CWAO reiterated its steadfast commitment to the human rights of workers, whatever their race, religion or place of origin: “Our strength is not in the things we lost in the fire. Our strength comes from the solidarity, organizing and struggles of the thousands of workers […]”

“Scapegoating migrants for economic problems blinds people to the real issues. Xenophobia has no place in South Africa, in Canada, or anywhere else,” said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and Canadian National Director of the United Steelworkers. “Steelworkers stand strongly against any attempt to pit workers against each other. This is why we are proud to do our small part to help an organization that has been targeted for doing the right thing.”

Founded in 1985, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that focuses primarily on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, but also supports Canadian communities. USW members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases, employers make matching contributions to the fund.

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For further information:

Ken Neumann, President, Steelworkers Humanity Fund, 416-544-5951
Doug Olthuis, Executive Director, Steelworkers Humanity Fund, 416-859-9953, dolthuis@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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