COSATU Central Executive Committee statement- 23 February 2023

The second and ordinary session of the central executive committee of the 14th National Congress convened on the 20th -22nd of February 2023, was a resounding success. This was underscored by the quality of the deliberations and outcomes, which reflect that indeed overall as a federation, we are on course to implement our four-year programme of action.

The central executive committee considered and engaged in wide-ranging discussions around the international and national political situations, the socioeconomic context and organisational assessment, and arrived at the following conclusions:


Members first– We intend to continue strengthening our organisational machinery and to place members at the centre of all that we do. We commit to leaving no stone unturned in the fulfilment of the programme to rebuild our organisation and address the remaining weaknesses. We know that the requirement to address all the challenges is strengthening unity amongst workers.

Unity of Workers– The aim is not only to build a strong organisation but to ensure maximum unity of the working class. We are dedicated to fostering a spirit of solidarity and cooperation amongst all unions, inside and outside of COSATU.

Defending Collective Bargaining- We have noted that gains that took many years of militant worker struggles are being reversed by our class enemies. The CEC was clear that numbers do not necessarily translate into organised power – our strength is derived from the mobilisation of members, and politicisation of the working class to act in their class interests; so that they can use bargaining to strengthen the organisation and use the organisation to strengthen collective bargaining. 

Recruitment-The meeting has emphasised that one of the most critical tasks is to rapidly grow our membership as part of our objective of securing 100% representation and a minimum of 50+1 in all the councils and chambers where our affiliates represent our members. Informed by this imperative, the CEC directs the federation to implement and scale up the recruitment campaign and move it into all nine (9) provinces in 2023.

May Day Decentralised May Day celebrations will take place across the country with the main activity planned for Qwaqwa in Free State Province. We intend to honour and remember the victims of the Bethlehem bus crash, where 52 COSATU members perished when their bus drove into a dam near Bethlehem, Free State on the 1st of May 2003.


Public Service– We support the Public Service unions who are currently mobilising against their employer in defence of collective bargaining. We call on the South African government to sit down with unions and negotiate in good faith to avoid a protracted strike. 

Makro-We call on the Massmart management to stop union-bashing and respect the country’s labour laws. We call on all workers and South Africans to support these courageous workers by boycotting Makro stores.

Post office- The meeting condemned the onslaught directed at Postal workers. We reject the proposed retrenchments and demand that government fund the Post Office and stop this managed decline of SOEs.

Telkom- We reject the planned retrenchments at Telkom. It is insincere for private companies to retrench workers despite the government drastically reducing the company tax.

Transnet -We denounce and reject the ongoing unbundling and privatisation of Transnet. This will destroy jobs and undermine economic transformation.

UIF– The CEC condemned the department of labour’s failure to deal with worsening corruption at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). We reiterate our position for the Fund to be put under administration and for the President to sign a proclamation instructing the SIU to investigate the corruption allegations.

The CEC adopted the following campaigns for the year 2023:

  • Durban Strikes commemoration.
  • Defending Collective Bargaining
  • Membership recruitment and building strong workplace organizations.
  • Fight against corruption in the Public and Private Sector
  • Defending UIF
  • Fight against Gender-Based Violence and advocate for the Dignity of Women & the Girl Child
  • Energy and Economic Crisis/Just transition financing
  • Workers’ Pension Fund
  • OHSA campaign
  • Cost of living campaign
  • HIV & AIDS campaign
  • Ratification of ILO Conventions
  • Monitoring compliance with the NMW
  • 38th Anniversary of COSATU
  • Decent work and Living wage campaign.


Despite the South African economy barely avoiding a technical recession last year, current economic projections suggest that we face a possibility of not recovering the more than 1 million jobs lost since the COVID-19 outbreak because of load-shedding.

 Macroeconomic Framework– The meeting called on the ANC -led government to review the current macroeconomic framework so that it is aligned with the national objectives of building South Africa’s productive capacity and manufacturing base. It further called on the government to find a speedy lasting solution to the energy crisis because it negatively impacts the growth of the manufacturing sector. 

The meeting also called upon social partners in NEDLAC (National Economic Development and Labour Council) to accelerate negotiations and engagement underway in the development of mineral beneficiation, water for industrialization and health economy masterplans.

 Industrial Policy Master Plans– The Central Executive Committee noted progress on the implementation of Industrial Policy Master Plans in the following sectors: Clothing, textile, footwear, and leather value chain, Automotive and components manufacturing industry, Steel and metals fabrication, Poultry, Forestry, and furniture.   

 Infrastructure Vandalism– The CEC was of the firm view that law enforcement agencies must take drastic measures against those who commit counter-revolutionary acts of sabotage by stealing and damaging South Africa’s economic infrastructure. It further supported measures announced by Minister Patel on the regulation of exports of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. 

Economic and Energy summit -COSATU reiterates the calls for the government to relieve Eskom of at least two-thirds of its debt burden and allocate additional funding for Eskom to purchase diesel to help reduce load shedding in the 2023/24 budget due to be tabled in Parliament. Since the declaration of the state of disaster, we are yet to hear plans from the presidency on progress made to date, COSATU calls on the presidency for regular progress updates.  The CEC further called for the urgent convening of the economic and energy summit to respond to the ever deterioration of the socioeconomic conditions of the working class and the poor.          

NEDLAC Engagements-The CEC noted engagements taking place at Nedlac between Organised Labour, Business and Government on a variety of interventions seeking to resolve key socio-economic challenges facing society.  These include measures to ease and reduce the burden of load-shedding, and interventions to cushion the impacts of the rise in the cost of living. We call for the overhauling of the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Fund to address allegations of serious corruption and the delays workers experience in accessing their funds.

Municipal Systems Act– COSATU is engaging the ANC, Parliament and COGTA on amending the unconstitutional provisions in the Municipal Systems Amendment Act that undermine municipal workers’ constitutional rights to freedom of political association.

National Minimum Wage -The CEC welcomed the government’s announcement of above-inflation increases for the National Minimum Wage and Basic Conditions of Employment Act Annual Income Threshold. The CPI plus 2% increase will see the National Minimum Wage increase from R23.19 to R25.42 per hour from the 1st of March 2023. This will provide badly needed relief for the six (6) million workers earning at the NMW level, in particular farm, domestic, retail, hospitality, construction, cleaning, security, and petrol workers. We remain deeply concerned though that there are still many employers who choose to undermine the NMW Act. It is critical that the Department of Employment and Labour work with stakeholders like Bargaining Councils, and unions to expose and deal with such unruly employers.

Fight Corruption– The meeting resolved to intensify the Federation’s campaign against corruption in both the public and private sectors. We also expect the National Treasury to play a leading role against corruption. They have an ethical responsibility to see to it that the public money is used for its designated purposes and spent within the guidelines of existing legislation across the state. We expect them to introduce a transparent procurement system and tighten their regulatory framework to close the identified loopholes.

We intend to engage other social partners to champion the whistleblowing campaign across all sectors of the economy, and we demand more action from the state to protect whistle-blowers.

COIDA Bill– COSATU has written to the Presidency urging the President’s assenting to the Compensation of Occupational Injury and Diseases Amendment Bill providing protection for domestic workers as well as the Employment Equity Amendment Bill strengthening its provisions. 

Public Service and the Public Administration Management Administration Amendment Bills -COSATU is pleased with the progress made at Nedlac and the PSCBC to address workers’ concerns on offensive provisions that would have undermined workers’ hard-won labour and constitutional rights in the Public Service and the Public Administration Management Administration Amendment Bills.  Positive engagements have also been held on the Mine Health and Safety Bill which will be key to reducing fatalities in our mines.

Finalisation of Outstanding Bills– The Federation urges Cabinet to prioritise the tabling in Parliament by March of all outstanding important Bills to allow Parliament sufficient time to pass them before the 2024 elections.  These Bills include the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill enhancing workers’ safety and the Companies Amendment Bill seeking to begin reducing the apartheid wage gap prevalent in the private sector.

It is critical that Parliament and Cabinet expedite key progressive bills as we enter the final year of the 6th administration and Parliament.  COSATU is looking forward to Parliament moving with speed to pass the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill allowing financially struggling workers early access to their pension funds, the National Health Insurance Bill, the Expropriation Bill, the Copyright Amendment Bill, and the Performers Protection Bill.  These will help advance workers’ struggles on many fronts, including access to health care, land, educational materials and protections for performers and artists.

Just Energy Transition: COSATU’s position on the just transition is based on ensuring adequate investment and financing of environmentally friendly activities that create decent jobs paid at living wages and meet standards of health and safety, promoting gender equity.   

It is important that there are comprehensive social protections (pensions, unemployment insurance etc.) to protect the most vulnerable; commissioning and conducting of research into the impacts of climate change on employment and livelihoods to sufficiently inform social policies as well as skilling, upskilling and reskilling of workers to ensure that they can be part of the new low-carbon development model.   

Workers are central to the implementation of a just energy transition therefore it is essential that there is sufficient engagement with labour, particularly COSATU, that is meaningful when discussions of a just transition take place at a national level, including in the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC).   

The technological advancement that comes with the transition to a low-carbon economy runs the risk of replacing human labour, therefore, in collective bargaining agreements workers need to be given ownership of the technological output. Labour does not agree with the percentage of funds that is allocated to the skills strategy in the Just Energy Transition Partnership Investment Plan (JETP-IP). Labour supports energy democracy and free basic electricity for poor and indigent communities.  

According to the JET-IP 80% of households in South Africa have access to the grid, which suggests that energy poverty is a grid access issue where affordability is an issue. Organised labour believes that the JET-IP must make investment commitments to substantially support the Free Basic Electricity (FBE) subsidy for poor households. The FBE is not mentioned on the JET-IP and if left unattended there will be no energy democracy, especially for the poor. The JET-IP must be co-created with labour and other affected stakeholders to create a plan that will take into consideration the needs of vulnerable groups and stakeholders.


The CEC spent time discussing and concluding the outstanding issues from the 14th National Congress and reflecting on the current political situation inside and outside the Alliance.

On the Alliance

  • The Federation reaffirmed that its strategic political objective remains unchanged, which is to ensure that the Alliance is reconfigured, and becomes a strategic political centre.
  • As a strategic political centre, the Alliance will provide greater clarity on the relationship between Alliance organisational structures, including the ANC structures, to processes of governance.
  • A reconfigured Alliance is required to ensure that meaningful political oversight is exercised over government bureaucracy, to reduce the disjuncture between the state and party policies.
  • An alliance political centre is needed to effectively drive processes of governance and transformation. This process will be driven by a political centre that includes the leadership of the Alliance, who will have to meet from time to time with those in government at all levels. This approach would involve collective decision-making and shared responsibility. It would require a high degree of coordination and ongoing consultation. 


  • The meeting noted and congratulated the ANC for successfully convening its 55th Elective National Conference in December and successful January 08 Anniversary celebrations in Mangaung, Free State.
  • It is our considered view that from the standpoint of the NDR, the post-NASREC situation does not necessarily represent a qualitative transformation but holds potential for progress and reform in Alliance relations and performance.
  • The meeting implored the new ANC NEC to reconnect with its base and focus its energies on eliminating the debilitating factional battles and tackling the ongoing triple-crisis of unemployment, inequality, and poverty.


  • The meeting concluded that the immediate task of the Federation is to reaffirm the SACP as the vanguard of the working class, and in doing so, the federation needs to work closely with the Party to develop joint workplace campaigns that are also linked to community struggles.
  • The CEC instructed the Federation to forge ahead with the process of deepening consultation and engagements with our unions, members, and allies on the 14th National Congress’s continuing deliberations around the question of supporting the SACP to contest State Power.
  • The meeting also mandated COSATU and SACP to increase cooperation in developing and bringing to reality their own strategic perspectives. We intend to convene a COSATU CEC -SACP CC bilateral to take the discussions forward, including convening the Conference of the Left.
  • The CEC reiterated its position that in dealing with this matter, the Federation should treasure and defend its unity and not allow politics to disrupt its internal cohesion.
  • The meeting instructed the Federation to play a critical role in strengthening the SACP; this includes ensuring broader participation of COSATU trade unions in the Party so that there is no de-link between COSATU trade unions and the SACP.
  • The meeting has tasked the political commission with conducting a deep analysis and facilitating discussions regarding these political issues above. We also intend to convene a Political School to help intensify our political education on NDR, providing a perspective of the working class.  It is important to have a clear class analysis of how class forces have shifted over the last 30 years.


  • The meeting noted that despite the unparalleled supremacy of western imperialism and its continuing domination in world affairs, the revolutionary and progressive South America constitutes a key counter-veiling force and inspiration against western imperialism in the current and rapidly changing international context. 
  • We have noted that in their own backyards, the ruling classes of western imperialism are facing a resurgent working class that is increasingly shifting its consciousness to the left as it embarks on rolling mass strikes and protests in its fight against austerity measures. This rising militancy has seen strikes in Europe and the growth of unionization in the US.
  • All these international tendencies reinforce our ongoing efforts to build the trade union movement in Africa, to further develop our south-to-south internationalist work, and to revive our historical relationships with key and fraternal unions in the global North, as part of taking forward our 14th National Congress mandate of raising the level of our work on international working-class solidarity.
  • In this regard, we will be intensifying our solidarity campaigns in Palestine, in Southern Africa, especially with the peoples of Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and building strong relationships with unions in strategic countries in Africa as a whole.

Issued by COSATU   

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