COSATU Special CEC statement – 08 October 2018

The Congress of South African Trade Unions convened a one day Special Central Executive Committee meeting yesterday-08 October 2018 to finalise the adoption of the resolutions from the 13th National Congress as amended. The meeting also finalised the proposed resolutions that the congress referred to the Central Executive Committee and also finalised the Programme of Action emanating from the 13th National Congress decisions.

Job Summit

The CEC acknowledged the outcomes of the Job Summit and continues to believe that engagements are critical to getting this economy moving and fixing our social problems. We acknowledge though that more work remains to be done and that the jobs agreement must be further fleshed out in the post summit working groups.

We are disappointed though that the private sector failed to agree to a moratorium on retrenchments or a cap on executive salaries. We will continue to work hard and use all available platforms to fight against retrenchments. The federation will also continue to be vigilant and mobilise to ensure that both government and big business remain true to their commitments and that the agreements are implemented. We have agreed to work to reverse the dominant neo-liberal and anti-state thinking that seeks to reduce the role of the state to that of a regulator and which argues for the provision of services to be left to the market.

Below are some of the resolution that were finalised:

Land Reform resolution

The CEC finalized the resolution on land expropriation without compensation. We demand diligence and thoughtfulness in dealing with landlessness that has become a national crisis in South Africa. We acknowledge that despite government’s efforts; millions of South Africans remain condemned to the brutal and inhumane squalor of informal areas. Millions of farm workers, labour tenants and their families, as well as communal land residents, especially women remain landless and without security of tenure. They remain at the mercy of farmers and traditional leaders, who can deprive them of their homes and land with little legal or state protection.

The federation supports progressive and rational constitutional and legislative amendments that will speed up land reform and restitution. We also support the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to unshackle government into speeding up the process. We are equally adamant that government must increase funding and support for emerging farmers to ensure their success in a very tough economic sector.

Anti- Privatisation resolution

The federation has resolved to fight privatisation of the SOE’s and any possible retrenchments of SOE workers and also demand that senior executives and Board members curb their exorbitant salaries. We also shall be demanding that the issues of workers be better represented at Board level. The reality is that privatisation will detrimentally affect the socio-economic interests of the poor, which includes workers and the working class in general.

It will also adversely affect the state’s capacity to: provide basic services to the poor; provide for infrastructural development; intervene to restructure the economy to ensure growth and employment creation; and play a developmental role in general. There will be more job losses and it will foster the casualisation of labour, with more and more workers being hired on limited fixed-term contracts of employment. Privatisation also removes workers from the bargaining units established over many years in the public sector, generally leading to a reduction in incomes, benefits and job security.

Program of Action

The federation will be embarking on a number of campaigns and activities towards the end of the year to make sure that the outcomes of the 13th National Congress are implemented without fail. These include the fight for a living wage and safe work places. These are some of the federation’s priorities for the next coming months:

Health Summit

COSATU is looking forward to the National Health Summit that will be convened between the 19th- 20th of October 2018 address the ongoing health crisis , come up with interim intervention and possibly a social compact. The federation wants the national Department of Health (DOH) to accelerate the agenda of health transformation in respect of the management and leadership of hospitals, infrastructure development and access to health care for all. Although the ANC and our government are succeeding in providing radical and fundamental changes in policies to effect the transformation of the health care system of the country to benefit our people, implementation is behind as a result of constraints in infrastructure resources and capacity. There is also resistance from the private sector to the implementation of some radical and progressive policies that are people driven.

Health is a critical apex for South Africa which is still confronted by triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The major sources of ill-health are the socio-economic conditions under which the poor live including the lack of adequate nourishment, clean and available water, proper sanitation, decent and affordable housing and clean environments.

Our approach on this matter is that we need to fast track the process of the implementation of the NHI. The NHI is a transformative project in both scope and scale and will meaningfully deliver improved quality of life and restore dignity to the poor. The NHI, as a system of universal coverage must be based on the following principles; Right to health care, Social solidarity, Equity of access and Health care as a public good. In order to build a genuine system of universal health care, the public sector must be built to become the main and ultimately sole provider of health services.

Campaign against fuel hikes

The federation is planning a protest action is the province of KZN around the price of fuel and rising cost of living. The escalation in the price of fuel has devastated the poor households and lower income earners the most. Poor families are struggling to afford basic necessities. We are calling on our government to consider increasing subsidies for public transport and also work on investing in our public transport system. There is an urgent need to improve the quality and efficiency of our public transport, particularly in poorer communities and rural areas.

The fragmentation of transport services in the country continues to undermine access to affordable, safe and reliable public transport. COSATU reiterates its position that the public transport system should be well coordinated and integrated. In our view, this is crucial for enhancing local economic development and eliminating the apartheid spatial challenges.
COSATU believes that the state should improve intergovernmental coordination of public transport provision so that it is linked with the provision of basic services. In addition to this, the transport infrastructure in rural areas needs to be expanded and improved.

Campaign against gender based violence

While we have much to celebrate today on the role that is played by women in the social, economic, cultural and political sphere, we also need to acknowledge the prevalence in the scourge of women oppression and that the demon of patriarchy is yet to be conquered.

In our country under the evil system of apartheid and colonialism, race and gender oppression and class exploitation were combined in an interconnected system. Apartheid capitalism profited from women’s oppression through the large numbers of African women working for lower wages than their male counterparts. Furthermore, women’s unpaid labour in rural areas enabled bosses to pay extremely low wages to migrant workers who lived in bachelor dormitories in complete negation of their parental and family roles.

We still witness the situation, where access to basic services is still skewed in racial, gender and geographic terms. Women still continue to be the face of poverty and the face of HIV and AIDS, especially black working class women. Socio-economic conditions and patriarchal attitudes that justify and perpetuate abuse of women are driving the staggeringly high rates of domestic violence and rape in South Africa. Women and girls are by far the most at risk and most affected by gender-based violence.

Women remain responsible for the bulk of unpaid reproductive labour. This includes all of the work that contributes to reproducing society, such as housework, child bearing and child rearing; which is invisible, not paid and not counted in national statistics. A central aspect of the struggle for gender equality is that reproductive work should become a societal responsibility.

Women’s experience of oppression is affected by their race, class, geographic location, age and other factors. For instance, women with disabilities, especially black working class women with disabilities are marginalised and lack access to support. The levels of unemployment and poverty experienced by young black women are extraordinarily high. Lesbians are discriminated against in the workplace and society purely on the basis of their sexual orientation. Migrant women are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence, and are generally not organised into local unions.

While the federation recognises that women are the agents of their own liberation who must lead the gender struggle. We also believe that men have a vital role to play to ensure that women are emancipated from the shackles of oppression and patriarchy.

Campaign against HIV and Aids

We acknowledge that government’s efforts in curbing the spread of HIV have resulted in the stabilisation of the prevalence of the disease. The high pregnancy rate among young women reflects an increase in the risk of exposure to contracting HIV as seen in the increase in the prevalence rate of the disease for women.

We shall be campaigning for easy accessibility of female condoms. We are worried that Nyaope, which is a mixture of different drugs such as heroin, dagga and ARV tablets, is now in common usage amongst drug users to the extent that patients are being robbed of their ARV tablets. We shall be intensifying our HIV and Aids campaign to ensure that the poor are not left out.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794