English Lesson


There is a little church in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, where people come to learn. They come in the evenings dur­ing the week.

These people are domestic workers. They work in the houses in Mayfair and Fordsburg and at night they come to school to read.

They told their teachers that they wanted to know about SADWA and COSATU. SADWA is the South African Domestic Workers’ Association and Cosatu is the Congress of South Afri­can Trade Unions.

An organiser from SADWA came to visit the people in Fordsburg. She talked about the many problems that domestic workers have.

“Domestic workers work long hours and they get very little money,” she said. “But there are no laws to help them. All domestic workers can do, is to come together and fight for what they want.”

“We, at SADWA, ask people to pay us R6,00 a year. We need this money for envelopes, paper and telephones. We must also pay the people who work at SADWA.”

One of the learners, Thandi, had a question. She paid R6,00 every year for five years. If she stopped working now, would SADWA help her to get her pension or her long service pay?

Another learner, Mampho, answered Thandi. Mampho said, “SADWA is not the people in the office in town. SADWA is the workers who belong to SADWA. SADWA is the people right here in the hall. If SADWA does noth­ing,” Mampho said, “then we only have ourselves to blame.”

Then Naomi stood up to speak. Naomi said she likes unions. She said unions are ‘Mmabatho’ — the mother of the people. But she likes unions for domestic workers the best. Domestic workers suffer the most. Naomi said the answer to their problems was unity.

“Everyone in South Africa is joining the unions,” Naomi said. “Even miners are joining unions. Domestic workers are just like miners who work with picks and shovels. If the miners can strike, then domestic workers in the kitchens can also strike.”

After Naomi spoke, everyone wanted to join SADWA. The organiser did not have enough forms for all the people who wanted to join


1. organiser: someone who helps people to join trade unions.
2. to blame: to say someone is wrong.
3. unity: when people stand together.
4. shovel: something that you use to dig.
5. strike: when you stop work because you want your boss to listen to

Can you use these words in the spaces below?

1. Miners dig with_______________________________when they work.
2. ________________________makes people strong in their struggles.
3. Workers_________________________when they are unhappy at work.
4. The______________________told the people that her trade union will
help them with their problems at work.
5. Mampho said workers are to___________________ if their unions are weak.


Can you answer these questions?

1. Where was the meeting?
2. Who spoke at the meeting?
3. How does SADWA spend their money?
4. Who makes SADWA strong?
5. Which unions are the best for Naomi?


1. the place where people pray__________
2. the thing that keeps you dry from the rain
3. the thing that you sit on_____________
4. things that cover the window at night
5. clothes men wear on their chests___
6. a car you pay to travel in___________
7. a small animal that eats mice
8. the biggest animal in the world
9. the continent we live on_____
10. the biggest city in South Africa
11. the mine where 177 miners died
12. a baby cow________________
13. what people grow in their fields
14. what you walk on___________
15. smoke that makes your eyes and throat sore


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