COSATU 14th National Congress Preparations Statement

The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions is finalising the preparations for the upcoming 14th National Congress to be held between the 26-29th of September 2022. We expect more than 2 000 delegates representing 1,6-million workers coming from workplaces in every sector of the economy, from both big and small cities and rural areas to gather at Gallagher Estate in Midrand.

The congress will be convened under the theme; Build working-class unity for economic liberation towards socialism”

We are going to the 14th National Congress to report on the work done on behalf of our members since our last congress, and to take stock of the state of the organisation, to reflect on the course of the National Democratic Revolution and the international context in which it takes place.

In these reports, we analyse the state of the organisation, we also present to the congress a comprehensive activity report which covers all the activities of the Federation’s structures, head office departments, provinces, and affiliates. We shall also report on how the finances of the Federation were utilised during the last four years.

In the period under review, there has been so much that has taken place and that has changed on both the international and home fronts. As Vladimir Lenin would say, ‘There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen’.

We have had many running battles with employers on the streets and in the boardrooms. We conducted national strikes highlighting the concerns of workers over wages, benefits, working conditions, retrenchments and unemployment, public services and against budget cuts, and we have supported the justifiable actions of other workers and communities.

We are meeting at a time of a global economic crisis and massive domestic challenges. This congress gives us an opportunity to sharpen our strategies and plans in order to grapple with the massive levels of unemployment, and widespread poverty affecting workers and the working class.

These documents contain proposed solutions that will ensure that workers share in the country’s wealth. We have had enough delays in fulfilling the objectives of the Freedom Charter.

We want the abolition of the apartheid wage gap and in particular in the private sector where it is predominant, the creation of strong collective bargaining institutions in all sectors of the economy, and comprehensive social protection for the unemployed and pension relief for highly indebted workers. We are calling for decisive action to end abusive practices particularly casualisation and the super-exploitation of vulnerable workers!  We demand an intensification in the fight against gender-based violence including at the workplace.

Workers want urgent steps taken to address the crises facing the public health and education system. They want affordable, safe, and reliable transport, so that they do not continue to be the victims of the ongoing road carnage and collapsing passenger rail lines.  Workers want the provision of decent homes close to where they work and in a manner that ends apartheid spatial development.

We shall spend the four days allocated to the congress to deal with the effects of a stagnant economy, the changing nature of work and the need to invest in the skills of workers so they can find work in not only the economy of today but also in the economy of tomorrow.

We intend to focus on the plight of vulnerable workers and the push for labour amendments to keep pace with the everchanging labour market landscape. We shall ensure that all workers enjoy the full protection of our progressive labour laws and are covered by the Unemployment and Compensation of Injury on Duty Insurance Funds. 

Workers will be eager to share ideas on the future of work and the just transition to a low carbon economy that leaves no worker and community behind. Central to the pathway to a just transition is a strengthened state to deliver on COSATU’s long standing demand for social and democratically owned renewable energy.

The energy crises continue to be felt the most by poor and the working-class communities who after loadshedding must additionally grapple with load reduction. The energy crises can only be resolved by strengthening Eskom to deliver on its generation mandate.  

Workers demand responsive and accountable government at all levels. They expect Councillors, MECs, Premiers, Ministers and government officials that are selflessly dedicated to improving their conditions by embarking on a series of joint campaigns aimed at turning their situations around.

We will engage on the state of organised labour, how to strengthen unions as the shield to protect workers, how to increase the number of unionised workers and to realise COSATU’s founding vision of one union, one industry, one country, one federation.

We will reflect on the state of our National Democratic Revolution. We believe it has entered its most dangerous and difficult period since 1994 and what direction it takes, will determine its fate. The epicentre of this major challenge is within the ANC, and it is not an exaggeration to say that the situation is very grave, and that the outcomes of the 2024 national and provincial elections are far from being certain.

We hope to emerge from this upcoming congress stronger and more united than ever.