COSATU Free State PEC Statement

The Congress of South African Trade Unions convened its Provincial Executive Committee meeting on the 1st of October 2020. 

The meeting acknowledged the frontline workers who continue to heroically lead the charge against the deadly coronavirus and we also mourn all those who lost their lives in the line of duty. We wish a speedy and permanent recovery to all those who are still battling the virus. 

We met at a time when our country and our movement is dealing with huge challenges. These include own goals by political deployees and deep economic problems due to the global economic situation. The PEC noted the continued resilience of the federation in the face of a changing workplace and offensive from many fronts. The meeting resolved on the following:

Politics- We are perturbed by the continued deterioration of many municipalities. Many communities are living under appalling conditions. The Alliance is dysfunctional and is failing to deliver on its commitments. This is a huge impediment for the NDR with many people living lives of brute survival.

We are troubled by the lack of political will to act against poor performance. This will complicate the campaign for the upcoming local government elections. A solution is needed and fast.

It is unacceptable that municipalities like Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality continue to focus on delivering services for only affluent areas of the city. Working class areas continue to navigate the ‘dams and rivers’ of sewerage in the streets. The federation will continue to wage a struggle against this class warfare directed at the poor majority.

Corruption- The meeting acknowledged the efforts of law enforcement agencies to tackle corruption and fraud in the province. We welcome the recent arrests which have been made in the province. 

We expect them to ensure a successful prosecution of the culprits. We hope that this will not stop with the public sector but that private sector corruption will also receive the same kind of attention.

The stealing of UIF TERS Fund and the looting of pensions by companies like Steinhoff will also be investigated. This is done whilst workers continue to sink deeper and deeper into poverty. This theft needs to be dealt with decisively and we are going to ensure that such happens. We condemn corruption in all its forms and wherever it may manifest itself! 

Job losses and retrenchments –The PEC noted the huge number of workers who have recently filed claims for the unemployment insurance fund since the beginning of the lockdown. The recent statistics are depressing and this jobs bloodbath should jolt policymakers and leaders into action.

The PEC has received a report about huge number of possible retrenchment notices by various employers across the sectors. It is unacceptable that even companies like SAPO and EDCON that have received a lot of support from the federation are also retrenching. We are calling for a provincial dialogue on how to revive the economy with all social partners. 

Economic development– We are troubled by the provincial administration’s failure to support local businesses. This needs to change because local small businesses are crucial for the economic development of the province. The Free State province needs to harness its potential to reduce poverty and inequality.

We call for a revolutionary approach that will see at least 70% of the fiscus spent supporting black businesses and lifting small businesses in our township and rural areas. This process, though, should in no way be exploited for the disbursement of patronage.

Attacks on collective bargaining- We condemn the state as an employer for leading the charge aimed at undermining legislated rights of workers. We denounce the attempts by the National Treasury to implement austerity measures that target the poor while promoting a welfare state for companies that continue to receive unconditional bailouts and incentives.

The private sector is also jumping on the bandwagon by undermining legislated collective bargaining.This will end up in tears because we will not sit idle while this offensive against the working class is perpetrated by the cynical alliance of government and big business.

Gender based violence

We have noted the recent increases in the incidents of gender-based violence. We are saddened by the fact that they are becoming more gruesome by the day. We call on our daughters, sisters, women, mothers, and grandmothers to be vigilant as they go about their daily routines so that they may be safe. We call on the law enforcement and the criminal justice cluster to ensure that justice is always served when such incidents have occurred. 

Covid-19- We have observed exploitation of workers on an unprecedented scale during the lockdown. In many workplaces our members have been subjected to working without quality and proper personal protective equipment. Many workplaces in the private sector especially the retail sector have actively barred their workers from reporting if they have tested positive to the virus.

We condemn the cannibalistic behaviour of some tenderpreneurs who have sought to profit at the expense of the poor. The looting of COVID-19 funds is criminal pure and simple. These criminals should be prosecuted.

We remain concerned of the possibility of the second wave and implore our members and South Africans to not be complacent and comply with the protocols that seek to break the infection chain.

National Day of Action- The PEC noted progress that has been made in mobilising workers for the activity. We also noted the unfolding program to engage the Alliance Partners and Civil society. We will be engaging in an intensive mobilisation program to ensure that the activity becomes a success and deliver a maximum impact on the 07th October 2020.We will be going out as part of the national program of action to raise our dissatisfaction about the following issues:

  1. Provision of reliable, affordable, and safe public transport
  2. Occupational Health and Safety in the workplace
  3. High levels of corruption in public and private sector
  4. High levels of job losses
  5. High incidents of gender-based violence
  6. Attacks on collective bargaining

The struggle continues 

Issued by COSATU Free State

Enquiries Provincial Secretary Monyatso oa Mahlatsi @ 051 447 5499 or 076 115 9923