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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Speeches

COSATU Acting General Secretary Input to the COSATU KZN Provincial Shop Stewards Council held on the 20th September 2015

21 September 2015

Comrade Chairperson comrade Zibula and fellow POBs collective Leaders of Affiliates in the Provinces

Members of the COSATU Central Executive Committee Leaders of the Alliance led by Macingwane, Mvelase, Mkhungo

Shop stewards

Members of staff Members of the


Dear comrades

Thank you for the sacrifice you made on this Sunday to leave everything aside to attend this Provincial Shop Stewards council with a sole purpose of making contribution in its deliberation and build a strong and united COSATU.

On behalf on the COSATU National Office Bearers we bring you warm and revolutionary greetings.

In the recent few weeks we have seen an increased in road accidents in this province claiming lives of innocent passengers whose majority are workers and breadwinners adding misery to their families.

We have heard about violence at schools and read media reports about the killing of teachers on allegation of post promotion.

The taxi violence and killing of people on some hostels clearly indicate that workers are on the receiving end. As if these are not enough, the violence meted by public sector workers be it teachers or nurses are totally unacceptable. More worried is the silence of the relevant Ministers.

The spate of killing of police men and women is a major concern for us.

These are deliberate acts of instilling fear to our protectors and once they succeed in that the real target is the innocent people, me and you.

All these challenges urge us all workers and the communities to think hard and engage in all efforts to find a solution to these.

We are also meeting at a time, when our economy is almost at recession, with business and consumer confidence at the lowest ebb.

With almost 8 million workers unemployed, this is a crisis and needing an urgent attention.

Just imagine all the people of Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique were unemployed and decide to invade South Africa. This is the size of our unemployment and is politically unsustainable.

The irony of this is that only government or public sector is creating jobs while private sector is on investment strike.

When workers are putting their wage demands employers are responding by giving them retrenchment notices.

A clear sign of provocation!

About 35 thousands of jobs are on the line. Comrades, COSATU cannot and should not accept this.

In the mining sector the reasons are that the prices of the commodities like platinum, gold, diamond etc are low and not that there is no work, so why punishing the workers.

Work is galore in any developing country, service delivery in the shortage of safe roads, school building, libraries, school laboratories, clinics and health facilities etc, so what is the problem?

The problem is the lack or inadequate revenue than what country needs, therefore redistributive taxation is an answer.

Township economy is an answer, self employment on what is regarded as dirty jobs, hair salon, shoe repairs, tailors, barbers, spaza shop owners, etc.

Recently we were told that the labour brokers were smiling all the way to the bank benefiting from the youth tax incentives.

We are told that South Africa is producing most millionaires while inequality is growing.

This, we must resist!

We are informed that employers are responding to the new labour legislation that protect workers against the exploitation by labour brokers by termination their employment. We must resist this; in fact we must continue demanding the total ban of labour brokering.

StatsSA, has shown, that annual wage increase are not influenced by trade unions. 8.1% of annual increase are products of the bargaining councils; 10% by individual employee and employer; 9,4% receive no annual increase at all, 22% by trade unions and employers, while 54% solely by employers. Thus s a scary scenario and COSATU has a responsibility to reverse it.

South Africa labour market force has been growing and currently is at 15 million workers.

Only 3,7 millions workers are members of the trade union movement which constitute about 27,6%, meaning over 70% workers are unorganized. Out of that 1,9 millions belong to the COSATU unions. This has been the case for the case for the last 15 years.

While only less than 30% belongs to trade unions, there are 180 registered trade unions, and 23 federations. 117 trade unions do not belong to any federation.

The question is why is this case? And what should be our response?

The Cosatu membership is 1,9 million the same number we had about 15 years ago. Our membership composition is 82% African, 13% Coloureds, 3% Asians/Indians and 2% Whites.

And the majority are blue collar workers. 59% men and 41% women, about 30% young workers

We are raising all these to paint a picture that we as COSATU, the largest trade union movement whose traditions are rooted in the congress movement and has a transformative tradition we have the responsibility not only to lead and unite the trade union movement, but to provide leadership to the civil society.

To give confidence to the million workers that their lot and protection at the work places can be secured. That we should and we can organise beyond the 30%.

We are raising these to remind ourselves that the sole reason of our existence is to service our members and when we fail to do so, we cease to be ourselves and members would leave us and seek protection elsewhere.

But such conviction comes with responsibility. This is where the COSATU KZN comes in!

Pre and during the COSATU Special National Congress the forces of darkness targeted this province to sow division or win it over and or at least divide it.

Those forces were camping here, thanks to your unity and refusal to serve interest of individuals.

Thanks for refusing to be members of individual leaders, and thanks for choosing organisation above individuals.

Thanks for understanding that leaders would come and go but the organisation would remain.

Thank you for understanding that leaders are not an organisation.

Have the dark forces surrendered after their defeat at the special national congress, no, they are re-grouping, they are mobilizing resources, they are counter organising.

They are hurt and more dangerous, we need more unity and we have the responsibility individually and collectively to assist one another.

LIMUSA needs your help, CEPPWAWU needs your assistance, FAWU and SACCAWU needs your encouragement to go back to the CEC as per the Special National Congress decision.

This brings me to the programme of action. At the special National Congress we resolved among others that we must go back to the basics of recruitment and servicing our members, seeking mandate and report back, respect internal democracy and worker control, democratic centralism, making COSATU a home of all workers Black and White.

In addition we said what we cannot win on the streets we cannot win it in the boardrooms therefore we must mobilize our members and the society as whole on electricity prices, job losses, National health insurance, anti- VAT increase, e-toll and public transport tsp is safe, affordable, efficient and accessible.

Today, we are expecting to receive reports on the state of readiness. In so doing, we must be humble, honest and true to ourselves.

We must double our efforts dedication.

We must mobilise every family in our community, religious groups, taxi associations, student movements, youth movements, civic society groups and progressive members of the media. Success comes with hard work.

We cannot and must not rely on miracles. Every work place and every local and every structure of the union mystery be visited and mobilized.

This work needs patience and resilience. We must resist provocation. We must be firm in our principle and humble.

When angry, avoid taking a decision.

When angry do not destroy the future of your children by denying them an opportunity to learn. We must stand firm against all those whose intention is to destroy us, unity of our affiliates and the federation itself.

We are worried about utterances attributed to Minister of Health in his open critics and condemnation of Heath professionals in the media. He is more critical of health workers and silence on National Health Insurance [NHI].

COSATU`s patience is running thin, we want NHI in our life time.

COSATU is dismayed by the attitude of the Minister of Basic Education on SADTU and its leadership.

From the newspaper articles which have not been disputed.

We conclude that the Minister and her MECs have taken a political decision to attack SADTU as claimed that " it has undue influence".

This is tantamount to a one war to destroy SADTU and COSATU would not sit aside and be a spectator when one of its own is under attack by our ANC`s deployee.

As we conclude, our movement is facing challenges.

When we had challenges, they did not stand aside and watch, they did everything to help, it is our turn to be glue and without taking side bring a voice of reason. We must continue condemning corruption wherever and whenever we see it and expose it.

Let us prepare for a Provincial Alliance Summit which is coming soon.