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The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) has led tributes to the former South African leader and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela who died yesterday at the age of 95.
Mr Mandela had been ill for many months having retired from public life in 2010.
The former lawyer, turned armed resistance leader, spent 27 years in jail under apartheid and worked closely with organised labour before and after he became president.
The WFTU Secretariat which represents 86 million workers in 120 countries, said Mr Mandela devoted his life to the fight for independence of Africans and tirelessly “fought against colonialism and imperialism.”
“The world has physically lost one of the most significant personalities of the struggle for a different world with social justice, equality, human rights, world peace, without capitalist exploitation, without racism, without xenophobia,” the statement read.
The WFTU also paid tribute to the South African labour federation COSATU which remains in a tri-partite alliance with the ANC and the Communist Party today.
“The struggle of the South African trade union movement was never unknown, his close ties with the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), contributed to the emancipation of South African workers, after 27 years in prison for his leadership in the resistance against apartheid, he was elected President of South Africa in 1994, In September 1995 he participated in the 5th Congress of COSATU and recognized the important role of COSATU in the liberation movement for the defence of workers’ rights, against racism and its role within the Alliance.
“Mandela, the Universal African, one of the greatest men of the 20th century, will continue present in our struggles and will remain as a timeless example for the working class and to the world for freedom and full human dignity.”
“Mandela will live forever in our hearts and in our struggles.”
In Britain, the country’s largest union Unite also paid its respects to Mr Mandela.
General secretary Len McCluskey said:
“The father of modern South Africa, Nelson Mandela’s struggle for justice, freedom and equality liberated a people and extinguished apartheid.”
“He showed the world that you can have justice without vengeance. He embodied and fought for trade union values of equality, anti-racism and social justice – values that we treasure and continue to struggle for.”
And Scottish Trade Union Congress general secretary Grahame Smith added:
“He was a revolutionary leader who became a President and the greatest statesman we have even known.
“He did his duty and his long walk is over. Ours continues emboldened by his example.
“Nelson Mandela – Madiba – Rest in Peace.”