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Media Centre  |  Declarations

3rd COSATU Free State Provincial Congress Declaration

8 July 2015

‘A call to action toward Radical Economic Transformation’
We, the 515 delegates representing 121 288 workers, coming from workplaces across the sectors of the economy, gathered at 3rd Free State Provincial Congress, speaking with one unified voice, call on our members and all working people to support this Call to Action towards "Celebrating our thirtieth anniversary repositioning COSATU towards struggle for Radical Economic Transformation".
The workers of our province have spoken, and COSATU, their organisation, have listened.

We have confounded many predictions that we will devour ourselves in this gathering, but have defied this endeavour through unity of the working class throughout the length and breadth of our Province.
We are meeting at a time of a global economic crisis and massive domestic challenges during which some gains as enshrined in the Freedom Charter are celebrated.
On the one hand this crisis worsens our triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality. On the other hand, the space has now opened up for countries to pursue radical economic alternatives.

The moment to act is now!
We draw our inspiration from Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara in his writing on Revolutionary Medicine when he declared that ‘The best way of telling is by doing!’
This FS Cosatu Provincial Congress - the Workers` Parliament - has declared: We are not prepared to tolerate massive levels of unemployment!
We want labour brokers and tendering system banned now!
We will not accept widespread poverty! We cannot live with grotesque levels of inequality which have made us the most unequal society on the planet and in the Province in particular!

Workers whether in far flung rural areas, or urban slums, say that they are no longer prepared to tolerate poverty wage and anything short of decent work:
We call on our beloved movement and Alliance Partner the African National Congress to make good on its manifesto promise of creating decent jobs!
Mineworkers, who produce our wealth in the belly of the earth, are earning a tiny fraction of the surplus they produce.

Farm workers who produce our food work under near slave conditions and exploited by evictions, poverty wages and have to endure inhumane treatment from farm owners. What is disturbing is that though they produce food for the rich they hardly have any when they go home after a hard long day!
Retail and commercial workers, many casualised women without basic benefits can only afford to pay for transport to come to work and the meagre wage is gone. It is unacceptable that the capital expect these mothers most of whom are single to rear the labour force of tomorrow though they can’t even feed their children properly due to their current slave wages!
Security workers who protect us, and transport workers who take us to work, work unbelievably long hours for a pittance and under very inhumane working conditions.
Our nurses, teachers and police are not being fairly paid for the valuable services they provide. Staff and equipment shortage have become a daily phenomenon.
We take advice from Paulo Freire and clearly define our problem within the public sector; we will not accept and normalize the situation where our people are not given proper services due to shortage of staff and equipment!

The majority of these workers, together with workers in the clothing factories, the foundries, and countless plants around the province work long hours and face dangerous conditions for poverty wages.
Over half of South Africa`s workers work for less than R3000 a month! This is against the stats SA 2014 study which shows that a family of five requires at least R4 500.00 per month to survive!
Workers are demanding that the People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth.
Our members are speaking through our structures, demonstrating their lack of patience through wildcat strikes and service delivery protests.

Our members are sending us a clear message:
They are demanding an end to starvation wages that in the main affects the black working class. They are demanding that the unions should spare no efforts to fight against these poverty wages and near slavery working conditions in most of the sectors of the economy.
They are telling us that the time is now to expedite the implementation of Freedom Charter in its entirety in moving South Africa forward.

They demand a radical change in their socio-economic conditions and more to Economic Transformation, and the creation of a powerful developmental state, which intervenes decisively in strategic sectors of the economy.
They are calling for the abolition of the apartheid wage structure, the creation of strong collective bargaining institutions in all sectors of the economy, and comprehensive social protection for the unemployed!

They are calling for decisive action to end abusive practices particularly labour broking, casualization and the super-exploitation of vulnerable workers!
They are demanding powerful worker-controlled unions in all sectors! They want their unions to in the main focus on a battle to improve their wages, improve conditions of employment and defend their jobs.

They demand responsive and accountable local government. They demand councillors and government officials that are selflessly dedicated to improve their conditions by embarking on a series of joint campaigns aimed at turning their situation around.
They have had enough of corruption which is an elite programme to steal from the poor. They do not take kindly to the obscene displays of public consumption by the elite, a message that says we don`t care about your crisis of poverty - we have arrived.

We must built unity and cohesion of the Federation amongst leadership and members. We must be watchful of the social movements which are progressing within our communities but which are pursuing the agendas of their neo-liberal funders. We should also jealously guard against the hijack of our own NGO’s which may be targeted by the global capitalists to work against us and our noble course!
We, the workers gathered here today, pledge to embark on a united and radical programme of action to realise workers legitimate demands, and to engage our communities and the broader democratic movement, to support us in these efforts.

The programme of action will be based on the following benchmarks

1. Systematic and rigorous implementation of an organisation building programme, ensuring the recruitment and retention of members across the sectors.
2. Defending our political gains and space. In this regard we need a strong ANC and SACP, rather than weakened Alliance partners.
3. Deepening our work to establish Socialist Forums and the recently launched Freedom Charter Forums as a platform where debates on all major challenges facing the working class take place and at the same time playing a major role in delivering membership education and deepening the political consciousness of the working class on the ground.
7. A stronger role for the working class and black women in the public discourse, challenging the hegemony of capital on a larger scale.
8. Ensuring clear measures are in place to reverse rising unemployment, poverty and inequality, ensuring that the share of the working class in national income is on the rise. In this context, increased capacity for affiliates is required to influence sectoral and workplace restructuring policies.
9. In that context, a strong developmental and democratic state is needed to drive a growth and development strategy with a strong redistributive thrust.
10. Resurgence of the African Trade Union Movement is essential and COSATU must play a central role in developing the perspective of the international trade union movement.
11. A better coordinated international policy is required that contributes in the struggles to build a better world based on equitable redistribution of resources and closing the growing gap between the rich and poor within and between countries. In this regard, we must build stronger international trade unions and improve coordination and unity of social movements as well as improve coordination with progressive political parties and progressive governments.
Success on this front requires a stronger role in the ILO as well as transformation of the UN institutions such as WTO, IMF, World Bank and BRICS.

The Congress elected the following comrades to lead the Federation for the next three years:
- Provincial Chairperson: Comrade Xolisile Qayiso
- Provincial Deputy Chairperson: Comrade Ntombizanele Sifuba
- Provincial Treasurer: Cde. Mojaesi Monyaki
- Provincial Secretary: Cde. Monyatso oa Mahlatsi
"Workers of the World Unite for you have nothing to lose but your chains’
The struggle continues!

Issued by COSATU Free State
Monyatso oa Mahlatsi (Provincial Secretary)
COSATU Free State
10 Elizabeth Street
Atrium Building, 6TH Floor
Tel: +27 051 447 5499 / 5230
Mobile: 076 115 9923
Fax: +27 051 447-5603
fax to email: 086 548 9714
E-Mail: monyatso@cosatu.org.za
"The best way of telling is doing" -Ernesto `Che` Guevara (On Revolutionary Medicine -1960) -