Opening Remarks by the President of COSATU, Zingiswa Losi at the 12th BRICS Trade Union Forum (BTUF) Dialogue held in Durban on the 26th September 2023

Chairperson of the session, President Godfrey Selematsela,

Minister of Employment and Labour of South Africa, Thulas Nxesi,

Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Province, Nomusa Dube-Ncube,

Fellow members of the SA BTUF Presidency, 2023 and leadership of fellow sister federations; FEDUSA, NACTU and SAFTU,

Colleagues from Brazil, Russia, India and China,

Friends and colleagues from different regions of Africa, SATUCC, OTUWA, EATUC, OATUU, ITUC Africa as well as WFTU and ITUC Brussels,

Delegates and participants, we welcome you to this important session of the BRICS Trade Union Forum (BTUF).  We are honoured by your presence.

It is fitting the 12th session of BTUF is held here in Durban, where the trade union movement was revived with the historic 1973 strike and laid the foundation for the birth of COSATU and took the resistance against apartheid to new heights.

COSATU is proud to be part of this important forum of the international trade union movement.  It is critical it be more than just a forum, but a vehicle to tackle key issues affecting the working class.

“The contemporary world is a very unequal place, with massive disparities of income, wealth and social participation. The top 10% of the world’s population receive over 50% of global income, while the bottom 50% receive less than 10%”

These painful glaring inequalities and injustices of the global system must guide us as we meet for this Forum.

BTUF is built upon the BRICS spirit of inclusivity, openness and mutual respect in building partnership for cooperation. It upholds the values of peace, justice, and inclusive development as a basis of our common existence and search for deeper solutions to the deeper problems we together face. 

These issues include the global crisis of poverty, inequalities, diseases and unemployment, as well as systemic exclusion from key institutions of the international governance system. BTUF was meant to ensure workers make an effective contribution towards a progressive and developmental agenda.

These challenges affirm the value of the theme of the 12th BRICS Trade Union Forum of “cooperation for fair and inclusive development for all peoples of the world – Advancing Social justice, Peace and Dignity Together!

Trade unions are essential vehicles in ensuring targeted interventions in defence of jobs, livelihoods and basic incomes for workers and the poor. They are important in the struggle against inequality, unemployment and poverty.

We affirm the importance of an alternative economic and political system that will free the working class from the failures of capitalism which has led to endless wars, poverty, inequalities and disease for the majority of humanity.

This Forum shall be working for the next two days on key issues affecting workers.  It is important that we produce a set of concrete, workable and realistic actions in the face of the many challenges facing the working class.

It is critical to reaffirm the importance of the role we must play as the trade union movement in this sensitive stage of geo-political tensions. We remain opposed to war, imperialism and poverty. We are focussed on development, industrialisation, job creation and skills training of workers to meaningfully participate in the benefits that come with progress.

We call for the active empowerment of women, youth, persons with disabilities and disadvantaged communities as there can never be peace without justice and inclusivity.

The planet is faced with climate change and environmental destruction threatening its very existence.  More than ever before humanity needs a just transition, that saves and creates jobs, invests in skills of the vulnerable and ensures an inclusive transition to clean energy.  Social protection will become even more important as we traverse these difficult journeys. 

With these few words, we wish to welcome you and trust that this gathering shall be a fruitful one, in which we shall rise to the occasion and outline a clear way forward.

Thank you!