COSATU Pre-May Day Statement 2022

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is ready for the upcoming International Workers Day “May Day” celebrations on the 1st of May 2022. The Federation will be convening marches and rallies across seven provinces reflecting on the struggles, sacrifices, and victories of the workers since 1886, when workers stood up and demanded eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

The main rally will be in the North-West Province at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. The workers in Gauteng will be transported to join the May Day celebrations in North- West.  In the province of KZN, the Federation has decided to mobilise its financial resources that would have been spent on preparing for May Day celebrations and donate them to the communities that have been affected by the recent floods.

Like those workers, who took a stand against slave like working conditions and won their victories, we shall also be recommitting to fighting against slave wages, retrenchments, and inhumane working conditions.

We shall reflect and honour our heroes and heroines, who formed this giant federation, COSATU, and also be reminiscent of the rich legacy that we inherited from them of democratic and militant trade unionism. We shall trace our footsteps and reflect on the vital historical moments and learn from the glorious victories that were secured by workers over the last thirty-six years. We owe it to these pioneers to sustain, build and strengthen the engines of COSATU, unite our affiliates and wage relentless struggles against exploitation.

Our priority is to defend workers and also fight for the dreams and the aspirations of workers and the working class in general. COSATU has a glorious history, but we are not about idealising the past, we are about imagining the future. We imagine and are ready to fight to shape a future that is free of unemployment, poverty, and inequality.

It was workers who built this country and its economy, and we continue to keep the engines of this economy grinding. We shall fight for our fair share of the surplus value, and we shall do this by taking ownership of the revolution and working to revive the dream of the Freedom Charter.

We are aware that our exploiters and enemies are united, and that as workers we cannot afford divisions. We know that we do not have enemies at the workplace, except our exploiters. We will not listen or entertain those, who want workers to fight and remain divided, while employers are paying themselves Billions in bonuses.

We have monopoly capital to defeat, and we need to focus on dealing with the rising cost of living.  We shall lead workers to fight for decent wages so that they can put food on the table and feed and clothe their families. Our priorities including tackling unaffordable electricity and petrol price increases.

The big fight for us is directed against retrenchments so that we can address record unemployment of 46%. We shall ceaselessly demand action on the implementation of the radical second phase of our transition.

COSATU and its Affiliates will redouble their efforts to stem the tide or retrenchments and build an inclusive economy.  This includes pushing government and the private sector to ramp up the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan.  The implementation of the Eskom Social Compact must be accelerated as the economy cannot grow without reliable and affordable energy.  Neither can workers afford above inflation electricity tariff hikes. 

Drastic interventions are needed to secure and fix Transnet and Metro Rail.  Transnet is key to saving and creating jobs in mining, manufacturing, and agricultural sectors.  An efficient Metro Rail will enable workers to get to work safely at an affordable price and on time.  Turn around plans are needed for other embattled SOEs to ensure they are enabled to play their role in the economy and their workers are not sent to the unemployment queue.

Local government needs to be overhauled, competent managers appointed, corruption dealt with and placed on a sustainable path.  Deteriorating basic services are a threat to the jobs of millions as companies close and relocate to better serviced towns.  Government and in particular the law enforcement agencies need to tackle corruption decisively.  Investigations, trials and sentencing for corruption cases must be prioritised.  Public procurement needs to be overhauled and its leakages plugged.

Every possible public and private financial resource needs to be mobilised to stimulate economic growth.  This must include a massive buy local campaign that includes government, SOEs, businesses, workers and consumers and targets key locally produced goods.  Pension and investment funds must play their part too in supporting local companies. 

Labour market institutions must be modernised to ensure they provide the necessary support and relief to workers, in particular the UIF, Compensation Fund, CCMA and the Labour Courts.

COSATU welcomes the President’s call for a social compact.  However, it must be premised upon progressive principles that protect the hard-won rights of workers and provide solidarity with the poor and unemployed. 

It must tackle the fundamental obstacles to economic growth, namely corruption, unreliable and unaffordable electricity, the devastation crippling Transnet and Metro Rail and the failure by municipalities to provide basic services.  COSATU will reject any attempts to impose wage freezes upon long suffering workers or to gut our progressive labour laws.  The Federation will continue to push to modernise our labour legislation and strengthen collective bargaining. 

We send our message of support to the striking mineworkers at Sibanye. Their unity and determination is inspirational. Workers need to prepare for bitter struggles ahead. We are in a class warfare and the ruling elites will stop at nothing to crush the working class.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911

Fax: 011 339 5080

Cell: 060 975 6794