COSATU statement on Yesterday’s National Protests

The Congress of South African Trade Unions salutes and congratulates the thousands of workers who participated in yesterday’s socio-economic national strike. Thousands of workers joined our marches and hundreds of thousands stayed at home in response to the call by the Federation for a national strike. 

The presence of COSATU was felt across South Africa as workers downed tools and marched in all provinces and major centres.  Those who could not afford to pay for the ever-rising transport costs, showed their support by staying away from work.

As usual, these marches and activities all across the country were characterized by the utmost discipline, harmony, and a festive atmosphere. We also welcome the positive response by all other worker organisations to the call for a strike. We thank our Affiliates for mobilising workers and providing transport for them.

The Federation shall continue to assess the impact of the strike, as it receives reports from its affiliated unions and provincial structures. What is clear is that workers understand the super-exploitative conditions affecting them and they also appreciate that a new commitment is required to fight against economic exploitation.

Our struggle to advance workers’ immediate economic interests, needs to be accompanied by the struggle to defend public services in the face of government’s threat to privatise and recklessly slash budgets, and thus incapacitating the public sector from playing its democratic and transformative role.

Never has this need to defend the public sector been so critical than in this period we are now in. The Federation remains committed not only to defending the public sector, but also to ensuring that the public sector plays an appropriate transformative role for a radical social and economic change in favour of the workers and the poor. We, therefore, will continue to expose and confront, without fear or favour, the forces of corruption and self-enrichment.

We caution all those who promised to respond to our memorandums, within fourteen days (14),  to do so because we remain ready and willing to confront them again on the 07th October 2022, if they fail to honour their commitment.

From the levels of strike participation, it is clear that workers understand that they cannot take forward these commitments and principles alone, and that they need to co-ordinate, affiliate, and form relations with other workers in South Africa to realise these ideals.

We go to COSATU’s 14th National Congress, next month, proud of the many running battles with employers on the streets and in the boardrooms. We have supported our affiliated unions in many workplace strikes over wages, benefits, working conditions; and we have also led national strikes highlighting the concerns of workers including the justifiable demands of our communities.

This strike was a reminder that COSATU remains the leading democratic contingent of militant and progressive trade unionism in South Africa. It is very significant that COSATU has been able to convene nine provincial marches, a National Strike, and will be convening a National Congress in a space of two months. This signifies that the Federation is back and ready to recover and scale the heights of its glorious past. Over the last four years, we have seen the resurgence of COSATU as the militant, class-oriented trade union centre, and the centre of progressive thought in South Africa.

We shall continue to ceaselessly work to build a Federation that will remain pre-occupied with broad social and political issues, as well as the immediate concerns of its members and their families; a Federation that unashamedly strives to remain a social force for transformation and the home of all workers. 

The Federation is the only weapon we have at our disposal to confront our class enemies.  We know that there is no battle we can win without a strong organisation, whose presence is visible and felt on the ground.

But as Chairman Mao said “we must not become complacent over any success. We should check our complacency and constantly criticise our shortcomings” as there are numerous challenges ahead for COSATU and its affiliates.

Issued by COSATU 

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson) 

Tel: 011 339 4911 
Fax: 011 339 5080 
Cell: 060 975 6794