COSATU Post-May Day statement

The Congress of South African Trade Unions salutes and congratulates the thousands of workers who participated in our nationwide May Day celebrations. We congratulate them for ensuring that our activities were characterized by supreme discipline, solidarity, and a festive atmosphere. We thank our affiliates for not just mobilising workers but for providing transportation for them.

We again pay homage to the 51 victims of the Bethlehem bus crash who tragically died in the Saulspoort Dam accident en route to the Workers’ Day celebrations in 2003. We will never forget them, and the 1st of May will remain a sad reminder of that tragedy.

The Federation remains committed to continuing with the tasks given to us by the 14th National Congress to build a COSATU, whose influence on society remains based on its organised power, ability to mobilise, socio-economic programmes and policies, and participation in political and social alliances.

We are unapologetic in our belief that factory-based struggles cannot be divorced from politics. Even from a pure working class and economic position, it is completely wrong to limit workers to factory-based issues. Politics determines who holds state power; who makes the laws; who controls the police, the courts, the army, and prisons. All these issues affect workers every day and cannot be ignored. Without addressing these questions, the factory gains made by workers will be in danger of being wiped out.

We have learned from our common, painful experiences that we can win battles on wage increases at the workplace level, only to have those eroded by increases in transport costs, municipal fee rates, increase in electricity tariffs, food, children’s educational fees, tax, erosion of pension funds through rising costs of living, etc. It is for these reasons that from the onset, COSATU decided to participate in the political sphere. We are unshaken members of the Alliance because all our struggles are political in nature.

This year we plan on building from the gains workers have achieved during 2022 and 2023, including raising the National Minimum Wage to R25.42 benefiting millions of poorly paid workers, strengthening the Employment Equity Act, as well as expanding the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act to provide cover for 900 000 domestic workers. 

We plan to work with other sister federations to deal with the 42% unemployment rate and rising levels of poverty. We intend to campaign for the end of load-shedding and the revival of State-Owned Enterprises and municipalities. We call on everyone to support the buy local campaign and the campaign against crime and corruption. The introduction of the Basic Income Grant is long overdue.

On the legislative front, our main priority is to push for Parliament to finalize key progressive Bills as we head toward the 2024 elections. The main one is the pension relief legislation that will allow struggling workers early access to their pension funds on 1 March 2024 through the new two (2) pot pension regime. The National Health Insurance Bill and Expropriation Bill will ensure all workers have access to quality healthcare and help accelerate efforts to ensure all South Africans can own their own land. 

To achieve these goals, workers must be united, we cannot afford to be distracted by our sectarian differences. The Federation will continue to strive to achieve its historic mandate of building one Federation for the country and one Affiliate for each sector of the economy.

The Struggle continues!

Issued by COSATU 

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)     

Tel: 011 339 4911 

Cell: 060 975 6794