COSATU statement on President Cyril Ramaphsa’s update on preparations for the reopening of the economy

COSATU has noted President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on the ongoing preparations concerning the reopening of the economy and also the likely surge in infections. 

We will continue to engage with individual government ministers to ensure that the conditions, regulations, and protocols being developed are practical. 

We reiterate our position that it is critical to save both lives and livelihoods. It is critical for workers to get back to work to earn the money they need to take care of their families. But this must be done as carefully as possible. 

We remain concerned that many employers are not ready or willing to ensure the safety of their workers and customers.  Too many public and private sector workers have been infected during levels four (4) and five (5) because their workplaces were not properly cleaned nor provided with the necessary PPEs. 

Workers still fail to adhere to social distancing and perform screening and testing. 

The Federation insists that all the workplace health and safety plans must meet the national guidelines. Workers should be involved in developing and monitoring their implementation and employers who fall short of this must face the full force of the law and be shutdown. 

The Department of Employment and Labour must move with speed to have the additional health and safety inspectors in place. 

The Federation remains deeply concerned that government and the transport industry have so far failed to present a proper and convincing plan to protect passengers.

Our trains are notoriously overcrowded, and our taxis are law unto themselves; so they cannot be trusted to abide by the regulations and do the right thing. Workers remain fearful that public transport remains the Achilles heel in government’s plan to combat the deadly Covid-19. Government must do better and ensure that the trains and taxis are ready and will be uncompromisingly policed. 

COSATU stands firmly with SADTU in believing that our schools are not ready to reopen. No teacher or learner can be forced to go to schools which are not clean, do not have PPEs and adequate space for social distancing. We shall continue to work with unions to ensure that teachers will not be victimised for refusing to perform dangerous work.

Government must ramp up screening and testing, in particular in hot spot areas and workplaces.  The long delays in processing the tests remain deeply problematic. 

Whilst appreciating that the country will move to level three (3), a more focused and proactive approach is needed for our metropolitan areas, in particular Western Cape hot spots. To date we have not seen a coherent dedicated approach to reverse the explosion in hot spots in Cape Town. 

The efforts to ramp up the procurement of PPEs and ventilators is welcome. However, it is simply unacceptable that some in business and government have failed to prioritise local producers to supply these materials. Every bit of solidarity and commitment to buy local is needed to save our already fragile manufacturing industry and the millions of workers’ whose jobs depend upon it. The only way we will rebuild our economy is through local procurement and solidarity. 

The Federation looks forward to government tabling a supplementary budget in Parliament at the end of June. It cannot be another business as usual budget. It must be bold and decisive and must be driven by the motive to retain jobs and kickstart the economy.

 Anything less than that will be unacceptable and a guarantee for an economic depression. 

the budget must include dedicated sectoral support for the most heavily battered parts of the economy, especially those in the hospitality and tourism sectors that remain under lockdown. 

It also needs to offer concrete plans to build the capacity of UIF and SASSA to ensure that they can deliver the necessary support to the unemployed and vulnerable.

Issued by COSATU
 Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794