The Congress of South African Trade Unions(COSATU) in the Free State held its second Provincial Executive Committee meeting for the year, which was hosted at Marematlou Training Institute in Bloemfontein. The Affiliates of the Federation were in attendance as well as the Locals coming from across the province. The Gender Structure and the Young Workers Forum were also part of the meeting. The PEC was confronted with an array of issues coming from the workers.
The PEC meeting was convened after hosting a highly successful Workers Day commemoration in Bethlehem which was held in memory of the 51 workers who lost their lives in the tragic bus accident about two decades ago. COSATU Free State wishes to take this opportunity to thank its members, community of Bethlehem, Dihlabeng and Sol Plaatjie Municipalities, law enforcement agencies and all who made the event a success. Indeed, the struggle continues!
1. Cholera outbreak
The Federation has noted with great concern the recent outbreak of cholera. What we find unpalatable is the fact that this outbreak is linked to contaminated water that is being utilized by our communities. We find it completely unacceptable that our communities are still struggling to access clean and running water from the taps. We call on the Department of Water Affairs and municipalities to ensure that our people are supplied with clean and safe water. We call on the Department of Health to speed up the interventions to eradicate the outbreak!
2. NDR and battle of ideas
The Federation took a grim note of the fact that the NDR is currently on crossroads and would need some serious interventions from the Federation and the Alliance. The issue of the reconfiguration of the alliance remains the reality that we will pursue as the Federation remains the only viable option to salvage the current political quagmire, we are stuck in.
We would be convening the Provincial Winter Political School which would take stock and analyze the data in relation to defining the current political epoch in our province. This will enable the Federation to make strategic decisions in terms of how to take the NDR struggle forward towards the building of socialism, and we still firmly believe that it is the future to achieve a just society!
3. By-elections in Mangaung Municipality
We received a report about the looming by-elections in four wards in Mangaung Municipality. We do not have any illusion about the challenges that we will be facing in this by-elections campaign. We will be engaging with the leadership of the ANC to assure us that the process of identifying the possible candidates would be compliant with the guidelines. The failure to adhere to such holds the potential to derail the victory. As the Federation we will be deploying our leadership collective to the respective wards to engage in election campaign for the victory of the ANC in the four wards.
4. Government and governance
The Federation welcomes the constitution of the new Free State Provincial Government Executive Committee and hopes that things will work out for the betterment of the lives of the Free Staters. We note however that it has been almost 100 days and the feeling of dejavu continues to set in. We had seriously hoped that by now things would be happening differently at the provincial and local government level. We would however give the benefit of a doubt to the new EXCO. We will also allow them space to operate and bring a better life for the benefit of all our people and the workers. We welcome the proclamation to probe and investigate the maleficence in the Office of the Premier. COSATU has always pronounced itself in support of clean governance. We’ll support the outcome of the investigation and its implementation in terms consequence management should such become necessary.
5. Non-payment of salaries in Municipalities
The Federation is outraged by the conduct of Mafube, Mohokare and Kopanong municipalities for failing to pay salaries to the workers. It is a fact that workers are paid just enough to survive until the next paycheck, given the current high cost of living it is barbaric not to pay workers their salaries when such is due! We commit to take the fight for the salaries to the doorstep of these municipalities as well as the provincial government for failing to pay for services!
6. Non-payment of third parties
The PEC received reports about the continued and deliberate failure of some municipalities to pay third parties. The meeting condemned this barbaric and cruel act by the municipalities which also constitutes a fraudulent and criminal activity. The Federation will work very closely with its Affiliate SAMWU to ensure that such criminal activities are brought to the attention of the law enforcement agencies for appropriate and commensurate action. We will also follow-up on the cases as reported to avoid the situation we had in Maluti-A-Phofung and Kopanong municipalities where such criminal cases vanished into thin air.
We condemn with the strongest possible terms the conduct of Tokologo Municipality for protecting individuals who have committed acts of fraud, by not paying over the third-party monies to the intended beneficiaries. They have opted to persecute the shopsteward for their own wrongdoing. As the Federation we stand with the shopstewards and will fight until the end to expose acts of fraud and criminality!
7. National Day of Action on 06 July 2023
The PEC took a decision to start mobilization for a major shutdown on 06 July 2023. The purpose will be to expose the hostility that has been unleashed by Harmony in Target Mine located in Allanridge. The mining house has taken an arbitrary and provocative action to derecognize some NUM shopstewards when such is not even their call. It is not for any employer to dictate who gets to be the shopstewards as such is an exclusive terrain and privilege of the members of the specific trade union.
We will also be raising our concerns with SALGA in relation to the non-payment of third parties as well as the demand for our members to be allowed to work and serve our communities in the process through the provision of tools of trade and creating conducive working environment.
We will also be raising our displeasure with Eskom in relation to the unaffordable price of electricity noting that in some areas in the province the price of a unit of electricity has surpassed R2.77cents even before the municipal mark-ups scheduled to take place in July 2023.
8. Building the Federation
As part of the program of building the Federation, the PEC adopted the program that will see to the convening of COSATU locals as clusters per district. The meetings will take place in all the districts and will deal with issues that are of organizational development in nature but also to confront issues that affect workers in the specific regions.
9. COSATU Fridays
The PEC took a decision to launch the COSATU Red Friday’s program on 23 June 2023 in Bloemfontein. The basis for this program would be to address the issues of visibility for the federation as well as to unleash a focused recruitment program. The program will unfold every Friday in different location within the province!
10. Access to land for residential purposes
The PEC adopted a program which will see the Federation engaging the identified municipalities to release land for residential purposes for the workers. COSATU Locals have been directed to identify such land parcels for the purpose of engaging the municipalities to achieve the objective. The sites should be developed and serviced so that workers can build their own house at their own pace!
11. Energy, food and water security
We have noted with great concern the declining energy, water, and food security for our communities in the province. What has become a reality is that food security has become an elusive target even for the workers due to the high food prices. We can only imagine what it is like for the unemployed masses of our country. We have therefore taken a decision to engage in a discussion that will deepen our understanding of these matters.
This will enable us to wage successful campaigns that will ensure that our communities feel that they are secured in terms of access to nourishing food, enough clean running water and uninterrupted supply of energy. We condemn the current approach taken by our government to volunteer to the guillotine by accepting loans to move towards renewable energies nudged by European and western countries where this project has had monumental failures. This transition should be done to the benefit of our members and our communities and should be bred locally through engagement with the key stakeholders like the Federation.
12. Service delivery campaign
We have noted that in many workplaces our members are discouraged, and their morale has been dampened by several wrong actions which are being done by either/or political or administrative leaders in various workplaces. The decision taken or not taken by those leaders would have created an environment not conducive for workers to do their work and serve the communities. We refuse to allow people who do not have the interest of our communities at heart become the obstacles between us, workers, and the work we are employed and paid for which is to serve our communities.
We are going to engage in campaigns where we will be demanding that our public services should be allowed to exist. We hold a strong view that some managers and political deployees are doing everything in their power to collapse some key public services to enable privatization either to flourish or to be ushered in under the false notion that private service providers are better. We reject that notion as it only seeks to open the floodgates for privatization and corruption! We demand that our public service should be left public and should be fully resourced to serve our people! We are not going to allow the ill-treatment we receive from our managers to create a gap between us as workers in the public service and the communities we serve! We are the community, and the community is us and no one will ever take that away from us!
13. Deliberate focus on the vulnerable sectors
The Affiliates have been directed to engage in a deliberate program to recruit, organize, service and retain the workers from the vulnerable sectors who are placed across the sectors of our economies. This will be an ongoing project and each PEC meeting will receive the progress report in that regard.
14. National Health Insurance
The PEC welcomed the passing of the NHI Bill by the National Assembly and we believe it will go a long way in addressing the anomalies that continue to exist within our health system. The meeting agreed that through the bill the following should be assured:
i. The NHI should open a way for the country to become a manufacturing hub for medical equipment and medical supplies to render our health institutions immune to the substandard medical equipment mainly of Chinese origin. This will create jobs and catapult South Africa from being a wholly consumerist state with a mainly comprador economy to becoming and industrialized country.
ii. Integrated municipality/DOH working relationship to insure delivery of services to both entities.
iii. Administration of the Insurance must be done in-house and not to be outsourced.
iv. The Presidential Health Summit must address the issue of monopoly of medical consumables and pharmaceutical products by big foreign companies we must build internal capacity.
We emerge out of the PEC meeting much energized and more resolute to defend and consolidate the interests of our members.
The struggle continues!
Issued by COSATU Free State
Monyatso oa Mahlatsi( Provincial Secretary)
Tel:051 447 5499
Cell:076 115 9923