SA shutting down for a week

Next week, South Africa has only 2 working days in the week. Many of the companies we do business with have decided that its probably not worth starting up the manufacturing plant for just 2 days, so they will not be operating.

The reason for this strange week is partly historical and partly a government/trade union decision. 27th April is a public holiday to celebrate the first open free-and-fair election in SA in 1994. Because the 27th falls on a Sunday, the law says that Monday is a public holiday. 1st May is also a public holiday mainly because the ANC government of SA wanted to appease its trade union and Communist Party allies, and so we have Workers’ Day on Thursday.

That should have meant that Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday were working days. However, 2008 had a very unusual date for Easter, Easter Friday was on 21st March. 21st is also a public holiday to commemorate the Sharpville Massacre in the early 1960s. The trade unions pointed out that in the national Constitution there are a certain number public holidays stated, but because of the overlap on 21st, the number of holidays was reduced. So they complained to government, who then decided to make Friday 2nd May a public holiday.

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