The Congress of South African Trade Unions fully support the workers at SABC in their declaration of a strike to fight against the retrenchments in the public broadcaster. The decision by SABC to proceed with retrenchments confirms our previous assertion that the SABC Board members are out of their depth and have overstayed their welcome. We demand a new SABC Board that will focus on solving the problems at SABC and not scapegoat workers and destroy livelihoods.
We fully endorse the march to the Union Buildings today and the subsequent activities, including a go slow and a shutdown because it is scandalous that the ANC government is leading the charge when it comes to destroying jobs. This government is supposed to be exemplary in protecting workers and creating new jobs.
These retrenchments are not just going to destroy workers lives and those of their families, but they are going to weaken what is a very vital institution of our democracy. SABC is too important an institution to be handed over to reactionary board members and managers. If we are to have a developmental state and have real participatory democracy, SABC needs to be strengthened and not weakened.
The ANC NEC 109th Anniversary message failed to concretely deal with the fate of SOEs and the plight of workers who are being retrenched by these struggling state companies. The message failed to acknowledge that workers are losing jobs in these collapsing SOEs and the country itself is teetering on the brink because of this problem.
The Federation has been arguing for a long time that dealing with the SOEs is an urgent matter and that the ANC government needs to present a well thought out plan that does not target workers or hand over everything to the private sector.
What is happening at SABC, SAA, Metro Rail, Transnet, DENEL, and other SOEs is unsustainable.
We call on the ANC and its government to prove and honour the commitment they expressed in the 08 January Statement of supporting COSATU by fixing the mess at SABC.
COSATU is about workers and their livelihoods. The best way to support the federation is to act on matters that impact workers and work to change their lives and working conditions, starting with the SABC workers. Vague promises and meaningless platitudes will not feed the families of the workers whose livelihoods are destroyed by the SABC and the ANC government.
As the Russian Marxist Revolutionary and theorist Leon Trotsky once observed; “The party that leans upon the workers but serves the bourgeoisie, in the period of the greatest sharpening of the class struggle, cannot but sense the smells wafted from the waiting grave”.
In its Manifesto the ANC said, “The ANC is committed to building a democratic developmental state able to lead efforts to overcome unemployment and poverty and reduce inequality. The developmental state would play a strategic guiding role in the economy and decisively intervene in the interests of the people, particularly the workers and the poor”.
The SABC retrenchments represent a rejection and an abandonment of this pledge to the people of South Africa.
We applaud the SABC workers and trade unions for uniting and working together during this critical and difficult period. The current problems need a collective approach and workers should put their sectarian differences aside and tackle take the battle to the employer.
COSATU is busy developing a mass mobilisation programme geared at responding to the unfolding socioeconomic crisis involving progressive mass-based organisations in particular and progressive civil society structures in general.
Work stoppages, strikes, and protests are the only language that employers understand and workers should be ready to push back to protect their livelihoods.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794