COSATU Free State concerned about the deliberate exclusion of labour from the 4IR summit

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the Free State has learned through the media that the second phase of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Summit coordinated jointly by the Free State Government and the Central University of Technology (CUT), took place from the 21st of July 2022 and is scheduled to end on the 22nd of July 2022.  It is of extreme concern that labour was not invited to participate in this event.  

Labour unions are the epitome of worker struggles, more so the challenges and adverse realities that workers live through since the advent of 4IR and its impact on the economy in general.

The summit was a follow-up to the first phase which took place a few months ago. The objective of the event was to engage on this phenomenon; to constructively explore and manage possible repercussions and yield positive results. This is no doubt a great initiative which has the potential to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

Workers remain central to any economic activity and form part of the advancements that may result from the introduction of the 4IR. Despite the arrival of the 4IR, workers will still be needed in the workplace to promote production. The two will be forced to work together.

It is because of these reasons that we are hugely disappointed by the Free State Government and the Central University of Technology failure to appropriately coordinate such a crucial summit which largely affects workers. We fail to understand how an institution such as CUT that is tasked to protect all interest groups and is designed to develop future leaders, can deliberately undermine workers in this manner. The participation and inclusion of workers in this summit is essential to finding a successful approach in this regard. The provincial government should have not agreed to going ahead with the event without the participation of labour.

We continue to hold the view that technological advancements should be utilized for the sole purpose of enhancing productivity and for the development of workers to be more efficient but not to replace humans in the workplace.

We will continue to seek to engage with both institutions even though CUT has been ignoring our communication for quite some time now. We have made several attempts to the office of the Vice Chancellor to invite them to our Education Summit which took place on the same dates to no avail. We are not surprised by this as it stems from the attitude of management which has been splayed repeatedly towards NEHAWU- a COSATU Affiliate in the workplace. We will also raise this matter in our next meeting with Free State Provincial Government.

We will do everything in our power to ensure that labour is not sidelined in the ushering in of 4IR which has the potential of removing labour from the workplace.

Our leaders must understand that exclusion of labour raises suspicion given the current situation where employers led by the state have launched an attack on labour and organizational rights.

The struggle continues!

Issued by COSATU Free State

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