TORONTO, Dec. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - "The United Steelworkers pays respect to
Nelson Mandela, one of history's greatest leaders, an extraordinary
freedom fighter, visionary and true friend of labour," said Ken
Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.
"It is with great sorrow that we pay tribute to the passing of this
Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison for his political activities
against apartheid. The first 18 years were served on Robben Island
where he was confined to a small cell and forced to labor in a quarry.
In the mid-1980s Mandela was offered his freedom on the condition that
he unconditionally reject violence as a means of bringing about change.
He rejected the proposal.
"What freedom am I being offered while the organization of the people
remains banned?" he wrote. "Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner
cannot enter into contracts."
With international voices lobbying strongly for his freedom and
escalating domestic civil strife, Mandela was granted his unconditional
release in 1990. As African National Congress (ANC) president, he led
negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and
establish multiracial elections.
In 1994, he led the ANC to victory and was elected President of South
Africa. Mandela's presidency is noted by his forming a Government of
National Unity which reduced ethnic and racial tensions, reflecting his
belief that "to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to
live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." He
also said that "resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it
will kill your enemies."
"Nelson Mandela inspired people everywhere around the world," said USW
International President Leo W. Gerard. "His loss is universal."
"Mandela always understood that working people and their ability to
organize through a union are a central building block of a free
society," emphasized Neumann.
"Our friend Mandela will always remain in our hearts and at the centre
of our dreams."
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Ken Neumann, 416-544-5950
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, firstname.lastname@example.org