COSATU statement on the Constitutional Court’s judgement on non-implementation of Resolution 1 of 2018  

The Congress of South African Trade Union is deeply disappointed by the Constitutional Court judgement regarding the non-implementation of Resolution 1 of 2018, particularly the adjustment of salaries for public service workers. The court ruled that the 2018 agreement was unlawful and unenforceable because National Treasury rejected the agreement at its inception.  

The Federation remains aggrieved because the Constitutional Court sorely focused on the internal mandating processes of the government and failed to acknowledge that the DPSA was given the go ahead to enter into an agreement with unions by the Cabinet.  The judgement also imposes the National Treasury on the collective bargaining process and gives it veto powers that allows it to act as a super ministry 

 This is a betrayal of the workers by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration. In dealing with a stagnant economy that has been mismanaged to the ground by policymakers, and in reducing the budget-deficit, as it always happens in crisis situations, the government has decided to target public servants. In this regard, the focus is on the lower levels in the public service hierarchy rather than the bloated managerial or executive levels.   

Workers have been pickpocketed out of their meagre increases, while billions continue to be spent on consultants who make no difference in improving the capacity of the state to deliver better services. The court’s ruling is sending a dangerous message that contracts are meaningless and courts can be used to escape accountability by a floundering government.  

This outcome will likely cause labour instability in the public service because workers will never accept a multi- year agreement again. It is disappointing that this ANC administration is reversing workers gains after all the support workers have given to it.  

This year billions were given away in tax cuts when that money could have been used to increase government spending. Instead of clearly indicating that the rich must bear the burden of fixing the government’s balance sheet after decades of rising profits, in a country which is the most unequal in the world and whose inequality is grossly racialised – the government is going back to attacking the public service, at the time when there is a need to build the capacity of the state to accelerate delivery.   

The South African Constitution states that “Public Administration must be development-oriented”. It further states that the “people’s needs must be responded to, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making”. These constitutional injunctions place the public service and the broader public-sector at the centre of the socioeconomic development and elevate the need for people-centred development programmes.These constitutional injunctions run counter to the Neoliberal model of governance and operation of the public-sector that largely characterise this administration.     

This administration is presiding over economic contraction and job-losses when its mandates from Nasrec and the 2019 elections called for urgency and determination in turning around this trajectory in pursuance of the radical second phase of our transition.   

Workers reject the current arrangement of a corporate welfare state that continues to take resources from the poor to support corporations without any set conditions. Tax breaks and other generous incentives are given to the private sector without the private sector delivering anything in return. The current economic trends have unleashed very harsh conditions especially for the working class and the poor, on top of the already severe COVID-19 crisis.  

The message to workers from this court ruling is that this administration has long ago walked out on workers and unions. The social compact that is being proposed is demanding that workers stop demanding wage increases and that the current labour law regime be weakened.   

It is now obvious that this government will not save workers, it has sold them out to the billionaire class, and workers will only save themselves. The only way left to change the balance of power and force concessions from the ruling capitalist class is for workers to exert their power by mobilising and fighting. This is a class war.  

The Federation is calling on all unions to unite, break down political divides, and bring workers of all political persuasions together to fight a common oligarchic class that is hellbent on crushing the working class.   

Issued by COSATU  

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794