Organised Labour represented by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), National Congress of Trade Unions (NACTU) and the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) held their mid-year Nedlac Organised Labour School to assess progress on the implementation of key policy interventions to spur economic growth, save and create jobs, and provide relief for the most impoverished.
Nedlac continues to remain the preeminent forum for social dialogue between government, labour, business and community. Labour will continue to defend the role of Nedlac and enhance its ability to provide bold and pragmatic solutions to the many socio-economic challenges facing workers, the economy and society at large.
Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan
Whilst appreciating some partial progress that has been made with regards to some ERRP commitments like the fight against corruption at Eskom and the recovery of the looted funds, we remain deeply concerned by the lack of urgency in implementing the majority of the ERRP’s targets. The President needs to convene an urgent leadership meeting with social partners at Nedlac to address these deeply worrying trends.
Organised Labour will continue to engage Eskom to ensure the full implementation of the Eskom Social Compact. We demand to see a firm Just Transition plan put in place to make sure workers do not lose jobs and communities are not recklessly abandoned, as various aging power stations and mines reach the end of their life span in the next few years.
We will redouble our efforts to drive local procurement campaigns across the economy, and we will be engaging with the National Treasury on the finalisation of the Public Procurement Bill.
Organised Labour is shocked by and rejects the false claims by the Department of Public Enterprises and Transnet that there has been consultation on the restructuring of Transnet at Nedlac. The lack of consultation by government with Organised Labour on the proposed restructuring of Transnet is alarming and only serves to fuel our suspicions that the entity is being dismantled in order for it to be privatised. This follows on the heels of the restructuring and partial sale of SAA where workers were not consulted beforehand. This will have a devastating impact on jobs. An urgent meeting with the Minister for Public Enterprises and the management of Transnet will be sought to resolve this crisis.
It is unacceptable that government continues to run away from Organised Labour’s proposal to ban political office bearers, their spouses, and children from doing business with the state. This matter will now be escalated to the Presidency for intervention. South Africa cannot afford to continue the current arrangement where families of politicians are given preferential treatment when it comes to government tenders. Cabinet must show the necessary moral courage and accept that political office bearers, their spouses and children must be legally banned from doing business with the state.
Social Relief Interventions
Progress on dispensing various relief measures to workers, communities, and businesses that suffered losses during the recent violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is welcome. More needs to be done and fast because workers are facing a desperate situation.
The delays in the Unemployment Insurance Fund are inexcusable and we intend to intervene to correct this bureaucratic mess. We expect that applications for the UIF relief will commence next week and that payments should follow shortly afterwards. We cannot afford any more delays.
Organised Labour welcomed the reinstatement of the Covid-19 Special Relief R350 Grant. It must now be made permanent and be used as a foundation for a basic income grant. It must be extended beyond March 2022, and adjusted in line with the food poverty level. Government needs to provide for its extension and enhancement in the October Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.
Organised Labour will ramp up its engagements with community organisations, e.g. civics, Churches, Mosques, Taxi Associations, sports associations, traditional leaders etc. to help ensure that the measures to address social cohesion and the many socio-economic crises afflicting communities are actually dealt with to avoid a repeat of the widescale violence, looting and criminality that devastated KZN and Gauteng in July.
Organised Labour is deeply concerned by the plunge in daily vaccination rates. We are working with government and business to help mobilise workers, and communities to vaccinate. Government needs to ramp up its publicity campaign explaining why people need to vaccinate, and also establish mobile vaccine units that can go door to door in all communities. Working with community stakeholders is necessary if we are to achieve the 67% population immunity level by December 2021. Whilst encouraging all workers to vaccinate, unions are prepared to fight to ensure that employers do not victimise those who decide to opt out of vaccination.
Section 77 Right to Strike
Organised Labour rejects any attempts by employers who have unashamedly sought to collapse workers’ hard won sacrosanct Constitutional right to strike, picket and protest as provided for in Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act. Organised Labour will be tabling proposals at Nedlac to protect these rights and workers when they choose to exercise them.
Issued by COSATU, FEDUSA and NACTU.
COSATU General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali (082 563 6973)
FEDUSA General Secretary Riefdah Ajam (079 696 2625)
NACTU General Secretary Narius Moloto (082 924 5945)