COSATU in the Free State welcomes the convening of the inaugural Workers Parliament on the 30th of May 2022 in the Provincial Legislature at the Fourth Raadsaal in Bloemfontein.
The sitting of the parliament marked the conclusion of the workers month activities for the provincial legislature. COSATU participated in the event and raised crucial issues affecting workers across the length and breadth of our province.
Various industries in the economy are currently facing serious challenges that require urgent attention. As COSATU in the Free State, our position on these challenges is very clear. Some of these are listed below:
· In the farming sector, we require protection of jobs, protection against unscrupulous employers who continue to exploit workers and our children through child labour. We need the state to put in place an effective natural disaster management framework to assist with the current devastating effects of natural disasters on agriculture.
· In the retail sector, workers need protection against exploitation by large companies who continue to introduce new concepts whose intentions are to enforce lifelong precariat employment that workers do not deserve. We have also raised issues that exist in the hospitality sector, especially in restaurants where workers do not have a basic salary and depend solely on tips as income. It’s general knowledge that these are highly unreliable, inconsistent and workers cannot depend on them to sustain a living. We are aware that some employers even claim a certain share of these tips. This behaviour is unacceptable and should be condemned at all costs.
· In the industrial sector, we need support by the state to retain the current industries through the consistent provision of basic services like water, electricity and the maintenance of infrastructure. The state should intervene and ensure that there is adequate investment in our production capabilities. There should be proper laws that will address the greed of some employers who retain exorbitant profit themselves and fail to re-invest a portion of it to labour-intensive sectors of the economy.
· In local government, we need the state to allow workers to provide services to communities without any interference and provide workers with the skills, resources and tools to achieve this. Employers must honour contractual agreements and pay workers and third parties on time. Current wholescale outsourcing in local government must also come to an end.
· In provincial government, we call for the filling of vacant positions. Some employees have been acting in several positions for long periods. We need the implementation of norms and standards across the public service proportional to the service needs in the area.
· The Speaker of the Provincial Legislature has on behalf of the house, made a commitment that the issues raised will be addressed accordingly. They will be put on record and executives in the labour portfolio will be required to provide consistent progress reports to the house. The Federation will also be updated on the progress.
· The unavailability of safe, reliable, and affordable public transport is increasingly reaching unacceptable levels. Dilapidated infrastructure has also contributed enormously towards workers reporting late for work, which has compromised workers and resulted in loss of income, jobs, or both.
· Increasing lawlessness across the province needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Law enforcement agencies should have sufficient resources to be able to their exercise their duties and keep our communities safe. This will also assist in dealing with high levels of gender-based violence which have reached alarming proportions.
We welcome the decision by the house to make this event an annual occasion where we will be able to track the developments on the issues raised to the house. We commit to monitoring progress in this regard and making sure that issues raised receive the necessary attention and that they get resolved to the benefit of the workers and the working class in general.
The struggle continues!
Issued by COSATU Free State
Enquiries Provincial Secretary Monyatso oa Mahlatsi @ 051 447 5499 or 076 115 9923