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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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  |  Memorandum

Memorandum to the Provincial Government of the Western Cape

1 May 2017, Cape Town

We the Cosatu member in the Western Cape come here today to hand over a memorandum to the Provincial Government that records our deep concern about Premier Zille negative role in the transformation of South Africa. You have always opposed the transformation of our society in a manner that undoes the Apartheid legasy and restores the ownership of the wealth to the people, from whom it was stolen. You have opposed a living wage and employment equity in the workplaces and supported the deregulation of the Labour Market, as you seek to defend the Apartheid generational advantages of White Communities. We see you marching for the removal of President Zuma for corruption but see you remain silent about the corrupt CEO of Companies that has stolen money from the public purse through collusion and corruption. We see you are silent about the corruption of Premier Zille and Mayor De Lille in the advertising deal and the procurement to white companies from Government.

All corruption must be attacked and all those guilty of corruption must be condemned and removed from leadership positions in all spheres of society. We want to see the CEO that were guilty of collusion going to jail , just as we want to see others guilty of corruption going to gaol. Whilst we agree that President Zuma must be removed, we will not march with people who benefit from our exploitation and want to see our exploitation increase, for their profits and control. We know who are responsible for the unemployment and inequality in our society, and we come here on May Day to warn the DA and the Provincial Government that to have a untransformed racist in a leadership position just promotes tensions in our society. We call on you to remove Premier Helen Zille from her position for acting in a racist manner and defending the colonial legacy. Zille.

Zille has always defended the apartheid generational advantages of the white communities, which is why she has never promoted a budget that would give all learners in our schools an equal opportunity. Under her rule the old white schools still get the most support and funding, when viewed from the apartheid days until now. Premier Zille cannot get herself to spend more money on the black schools, so that equality of opportunity is achieved. She is the more sophisticated kind of racist that will hug and kiss you, whilst she gives the white child the better opportunity than the black child. Unless they have wealth as the blacks who are embedded in the racist white communities to give it legitimacy, like Rampele. Racist like Zille is responsible for the systemic exclusion of black people and deepening tensions in South Africa as inequalities become worse. Zille used her position as head of the Government to exclude black people from leadership positions, as she increases the number of contract positions through consultants, to bypass employment equity. We remember on this May Day how much we have won and how much their still needs to be done in South Africa.

The history of the International Worker's holiday {May Day} is a history of class struggle, sacrifices and victories. Workers are the unsung heroes that hold the world together and have built the world economy with their blood and their sweat.

This holiday can be traced back to the year 1886 and has its origins in the labour union movement. Workers at that time were nothing but glorified slaves, who were paid meagre wages and working long hours. They stood up and demanded eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

In other words they took a stand against slave working conditions and won their victories. We also need to take that baton and make a stand against slave wages and poor working conditions today. Our fate is in our hands and we are our own liberators.

While workers should be ready to struggle, they also need to look at the victories that have been achieved over the last 18 months under the leadership of COSATU.

  1. We opposed the implementation of the Taxation Amendment Act that was going to result in the forced annuitisation of workers retirement's savings without consultation.
  2. We forced government to release Comprehensive Social Security Discussion Paper at Nedlac.
  3. We have unambiguously supported the struggle for Free Education
  4. We pushed and fought for the release of the National Health Insurance's White Paper that was being blocked by the National Treasury.
  5. COSATU pushed and succeeded to ensure that we have a National Minimum Wage
  6. COSATU successfully pushed for the adoption of the UIF Amendment Act, which is a very progressive law, which will see billions of rends of UIF funds channelled to workers
    1. by increasing UIF benefits from 8 months to 12 months,
    2. Increasing maternity leave payments from 54% of income to 66%, including mothers, who had miscarriages in the third trimester and stillborns under maternity leave.
    3. It will empower the Minister to set special regulations for domestic workers on the issue of maternity leave.
  7. We defeated the reactionary lobby groups like Free Market Foundation, South African Institute of Race Relations and backward looking political parties like the DA in their attempt to attack the National Minimum Wage and Collective Bargaining and other progressive policies.
  8. COSATU remains a giant and a home of the toiling masses

As we celebrate this year's May Day, we need to remember our heroes and heroines, who formed this giant federation COSATU and also remember that we inherited a rich legacy of democratic and militant trade unionism from them. We therefore owe it to these pioneers to sustain, build and strengthen COSATU first.

This battle hardened federation of Elijah Bharayi, Chris Dlamini and John Gomomo is turning 32 years old this year. From the inception, COSATU had to survive attacks under apartheid where new federations and employer's sweetheart unions who pretended to be militant at first were formed to destroy COSATU; we defeated them through intensified workplace struggles. This year also marks 30 years since the Apartheid regime bombed COSATU House. In 1998 at the TRC the former Minister of Law and Order, Adriaan Vlok, as well as 22 former members of the former security police admitted to have been responsible for this attack. Even this attack which added to a list of other attacks which included the raiding and burning of COSATU affiliates' offices never deterred us , instead we leaped from one great victory to another making us to be accorded respect by both our friends and foes alike. Even today we should stand combat ready to defend our federation!

We however should never be arrogant and take things for granted but we should also not allow ourselves to be distracted by our detractors and their agents. Our priority is to defend workers also fight for the dreams and the aspirations of workers and the working class in general. Our strategic enemy is White Monopoly Capital.

Let us use this May Day to trace our footsteps and reflect on the vital historical moments and learn from the glorious victories that were secured by workers over the last thirty years. Let us remember the role of the federation, working with the Mass Democratic Movement, under the leadership of the United Democratic Front (UDF), where it waged relentless struggles in the fight against the apartheid regime.

COSATU has a glorious history but we are not about idealising the past, we are about imagining the future. Let us use our past victories and our mistakes as an inspiration to imagine and fight to shape a future that is free of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Let us make sure that no one forgets that it was workers who built this country and its economy and we continue to keep the engines of this economy grinding. Let us therefore unite and demand our fair share of the surplus value. We should take the ownership of the revolution and revive the dream of the freedom charter.

Our exploiters and enemies are united, we cannot afford divisions

Despite an offensive directed against this federation, COSATU, we should refuse to be defocused or distracted by side shows. We know that we do not have enemies at the workplace, except our exploiters. We should never listen or entertain anyone, who wants us to fight and remain divided as workers, when employers are paying themselves millions in bonuses.

  1. Brian Molefe was offered R30 million golden handshake at Eskom
  2. Former Shoprite's CEO, Whitey Basson, was paid over R100m in the year to June 30 2016.
  3. Standard Bank joint chief executives, Sim Tshabalala and Ben Kruger, followed suit with each earning R44.4 million for the year.
  4. ABSA still owes us R2, 2 billion

Do not listen to anyone, who wants you to fight over a colour of your union T-shirt or the logo on your chest, when capitalists are feasting. We work under the same terrible conditions, get paid peanuts, wear our colours, sing our songs, and shout the same slogans. We should never fight those, who are wage earners and who clock in and out with us at the shop floor level.

We should expose and confront leaders, who divide us for their narrow political and personal aims. We know them by their conduct, by their deceptive tongues, hypocrisy and by their lies.

  1. Let us not waste our energies and our time talking about people, who want our attention. We have monopoly capital to defeat.
  2. We need to focus on dealing with the rising cost of living.
  3. We should ensure that workers fight for decent wages so that they can put food on the table and feed and clothe their families.
  4. Our priority is electricity and petrol price increases.
  5. Workers are struggling with high interest's rate and exorbitant bank charges.
  6. Let us talk about how to address the unemployment of 35%.
  7. Let us demand action on the implementation of the radical second phase of our transition.

Comrades, we need to close ranks and defend COSATU and remember the commitment we made during the Special National Congress in 2015. We cannot afford divisions. Let us build our unions and recruit more workers. Organisers must service workers and shop stewards and paralegals must represent workers. Let us get rid of people, who are not doing their jobs. Let us fight foreign tendencies within our unions, like corruption.

Economic Emancipation in our lifetime

We need to spend our resources and energies looking at the economic matters and challenges facing the trade union movement and the country in general. COSATU has noted that some of its valuable ideas on restructuring the economy and forging a new growth path are gaining traction in the ANC and in government. But we are not interested in preambles, speeches and public declarations. We want action now! We are ready to help all those, who want to know what radical economic transformation is.

  1. This should include the total banning of labour broking.
  2. It should include state ownership or control commanding heights of the economy banks, mines, nationalization of the Reserve bank.
  3. It should also involve a public work employment programme, which is based on permanent decent jobs and youth employment programmes.
  4. All this should be driven by the State companies control of international trade for the benefit all South African not only a few exporters and imports.
  5. We need restrictions such as taxes on export of capital, high corporate taxes, land restitution reform which is linked to participation of rural people in the economy.
  6. We need to break-up of the agricultural monopolies , and demand 50/50 partnership between workers and farm owners
  7. We support the Transformation of National Treasury. We have long said that the best way to transform Treasury is to bring in some progressive economists and economic thinkers to temper the hard-line neoliberal culture of that institution.
  8. The National Treasury is currently dominated by free market believers, who care very little about economic transformation.

We have a clear message to employers, {big business and government}: We demand justice for the toilers

  1. We cannot continue as workers to remain enslaved in waged labour, while our economy remains highly monopolised and foreign owned and also at the hands of a white minority.
  2. We are going to fight privatisation and demand the transformation of the colonial and apartheid structure of the South African economy.
  3. We are going to fight and demand decisive interventions to stem the unfolding de-industrialisation and ongoing job losses.
  4. We demand the introduction of capital controls to stem the tide of capital flight.
  5. We want the implementation of the Alliance summit decision calling for the redrafting and fundamental overhaul of the core economic and labour chapter of the NDP.
  6. We want the review and withdrawal of the Employment Incentive Tax Act.
  7. We demand the lifting of a moratorium on the freezing of vacant posts in the public service.
  8. We want the abolition of e-tolls and labour brokers.
  9. We demand the implementation and adoption of the principle of Equal pay for work of equal value and the abolition of Apartheid wage structure.
  10. We want Treasury to ensure that the SOEs are properly funded to fulfil their developmental and decent work agenda.
  11. Our government must intervene to ensure that the SETAs deliver upon their mandates and spend their budgets to ensure that workers receive the necessary training to help them find decent employment.
  12. We want the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI). We are tired of the greedy medical aid schemes and the greedy private healthcare industry that has been victimising South Africans through high prices. We all need to push for the finalisation and the introduction of the National Health Insurance.
  13. COSATU will fight the sugar tax that will cost us our
  14. We are also sending a clear message to government to stop introducing Independent Power Producers {IPP's} to the national grid and the closure by Eskom's of five power stations. This is killing our jobs.
  15. This is what we want and this is what should keep us awake at night.
  16. We should unite and work to fight racism, corruption and defend our revolution. Racism and corruption are alive and well in this country and we have to be ready to fight them in the workplace and in our society. Most of you experience racism your workplaces every day.
  17. We demand compliance with health and safety regulations by all companies and provision of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the workplace.

We should push harder against exploitation in the Construction, mining, domestic, farming and other sectors. Retail workers, security guards, and those in the service industry also work long hours and are paid peanuts. Most workers cannot afford to educate, feed, clothe and send their families to the doctors. Our struggle needs us to be united.

"Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" You have nothing to lose but your chains!

This memorandum is handed over to the Provincial Government of the Western Cape on the 1st May 2017 in Cape Town.

Signed by Cosatu Signed by Provincial Government
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