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Speech by NUM President Cde Piet Matosa during the NUM Central Committee
8 June 2017, St Georges Hotel, Pretoria - Irene
Recruit, Fight Retrenchments, Assess and Forge Unity
Comrades, and friends, let me welcome you all to this important gathering of NUM, our member’s parliament. We shall be guided by the theme ‘Recruit, Fight Retrenchments, Assess and Forge Unity’ in our discussions today and tomorrow.
Clearly, there is no organisation that can grow without actively and consistently recruiting members. An organisation can also not keep members without good service and protection from retrenchments.
Furthermore, organisations sustain themselves by understanding both internal and external environments through continuous assessment of the internal and outside dynamics.
Such considerations enable organisations such as NUM and its leadership to develop effective recruitment strategies, membership strategies, and service and retention strategies, including mobilising, organising, and campaigning programmes.
1.1 Meaning of assessment in our theme
The assessment aspect of our theme speaks to review of all the above. The assessment should also look at personnel and organisational capacity, efficiency, including the importance for fiscal prudence.
Most importantly, no matter positive the above, there can be no capable organisation that performs positively if it cannot unite itself. Unity is important for NUM to act as a cohesive force.
How we relate to ourselves inside NUM is very important. We must master the unity inside to impact positively on the world outside.
1.2 Understanding our outside world
Our outside world consists of employers, our competitors, political landscape, the economic base, social factors and actors, including technological changes which affect us at the workplace.
All these tamper with our rights, emotions, ambitions, and dreams. Thus the theme ‘Recruit, Fight Retrenchments, Assess and Forge Unity’ must be understood in this specified broad context.
When we understand the above scenario, we can effectively galvanise positive inputs and a cohesive response. This posture shall lead to a living organisation that thrives on service, protection, and development of its members, as an ultimate mission.
Thus we need a strong NUM, with strong branches, regions, committed officials, and obviously disciplined leadership without exception .
2. FORGING UNITY
Comrades, we have to forge unity to keep NUM alive. When we forge unity, it must remain a constant conscious course, not an accidental or opportunistic endeavour.
You don’t forge unity by firstly endorsing tribal or ethnic overtures, thereafter call for unity. Tribalism is by definition a state of organising people for tribal interests. It is inconsistent with working class consciousness and unity.
I am raising this so that we desist tribal overtures in mobilising for support in regional conferences which will start after this Central Committee.
Some have already started creating tribal enterprises in the organisation. To advance narrow interest in their preparations for regional conferences. They shall do so also as we move to national congress in 2018. This will destroy NUM and betrays calls for unity.
To forge unity we must be driven by the working class consciousness which is above narrow epicentres. We shall not defeat the employer by hanging to our narrow enclaves.
Unity requires true liberated revolutionaries to sustain NUM.True leaders show vision and not sow divisions. The message for forging unity must permeate this central committee and the forthcoming regional conferences.
We want to build a united prosperous and dynamic South Africa. This must be characteristic of an NUM member and a leader.
3. YOUTH AND JUNE MONTH
3.1 Spirit of 76
Dear delegates, we hold this Central Committee during an important period called Youth month .This month is dedicated to the youth of South Africa for their historic and gallant fight against apartheid colonial education. For their contribution to the national struggle.
They too with their demands for free equal education sought to unite young people of our country black and white. This means our theme to forge unity is relevant to the memory of June 16.
We therefore urge the NUM Youth Structure to live up to this spirit by generating memorial activities in our regions and national office.
3.2 Strive for education
The young workers of our organisation must also strive for education, just like their forbearers in 1976. You must refuse to be comfortable with where you are currently.
While talking challenges to young workers in mining, energy, and construction, we must also speak about education and development as the future. This will assist in preparing most of you for a future inside and outside NUM.
You must go into the main political and economic minefields well-armed, and ready to make positive impact. Don’t become stagnant or redundant, be vibrant.
3.3 Revolutionary Political consciousness
This vibrancy must promote revolutionary political consciousness. Youth without good revolutionary grounding can be dangerous to their organisation and society. As they may be trapped in politics of entitlement than empowerment.
Let’s remember a young African revolutionary Thomas Sankara who said “Without patriotic political education, a soldier is only a potential criminal”.
You have played a critical role in keeping the NUM voice in matters such as “#Zero Increase to Fees” campaign, standing against burning of schools in Vhuwani and etc. Since you were constitutionalised in 2015 Congress, these are amongst positive activities that marked your presence in NUM.
We must challenge companies to use Skills Development Act to effectively skill young workers. This is the best memory we can hold for the fallen heroes of 1976.
The youth structure must challenge programmatically the non-recognition culture by employers. I call on our regions to provide the relevant support to youth structure where it is required.
4. THE PLIGHT OF WOMEN IN SA
4.1 Violence against women
Comrades, the patriarchal offensive against women and children of our country is intensifying daily and yearly. Our newspapers and television sets flight horrible stories of violence against the vulnerable in our society.
We must stand to condemn all the evil perpetrators responsible for the ugly deeds. Let’s be inspired by the late Bolivian revolutionary Che Guevara who said‘The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love”.
The NUM Women Structure must be in the forefront of this discourse and struggle.They must initiate patriotic conversations that promote respect for women in our organisation.
4.2 Create dialogue forums and conversations
There must be forums of dialogue within our regions and branches talking about the stopping of the violence against women.
The conversations that must take root in our meetings led by women structure should also touch on sexual harassment.
They must speak to the fact that black women still occupy low paying jobs and peripheral positions, with no plans to empower them for strategic positions. How can this become a campaign by the women structure?
I should also make the same call to Women Structure leaders and say use the opportunities available to capacitate and empower yourselves. Make yourselves available for empowerment opportunities by skilling yourselves.
4.3 Observing a moment of silence
Comrades , let metake this opportunity to request you all to stand up and observe a moment of complete silence in sympathy and in memory of all women and children that have been violated .
Let all of us say ‘from here and no more, no further in our name”. I thank you all and get seated. The Gender Based Violence Command Centre toll free number is: 0800 428428.
Keep this number busy .We can’t forge unity without love and respect for women, female colleagues, and sisters.
5. Support for the rhino struggle
Comrades, as workers we also love animals. This is our heritage. The rhino is also threatened by extinction due to illegal poaching.The rhino gets killed for its horn. Let’s support all efforts to protect this heritage .So that our children can know it live and not on television.
6. POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
6.1 SACP and State power
Comrades, we are also aware of growing calls for the SACP to contest state power come 2019 national elections. These calls are influenced by what is happening in our country today.
South Africans are seeing a gradual betrayal of the NDR. Perhaps also the realisation that the alliance is effectively stagnant only active at national elections.
These are genuine concerns .But such calls should not be an expression of our collective frustration .It must be a strategic call to upscale the momentum of change to unlock the challenges. So that we take the National Democratic Revolution to another level.
6.2 The state is a site of struggle
While we explore all avenues to strengthen our role in the state, we should not forget that the state is one site of struggle. It is contested, and every gain we get must be defended. The challenge is how do the working class exert their influence where criminal networks have taken over?
We must try to answer this question in our deliberations today. Looking not only at the state as a site of struggle. But looking at all sites of struggle such as our communities, the workplace, and so on.
6.3 The alliance must meet
Though wobbly, the tripartite Alliance must meet to deal with a litany of concerns and attend to the email revelations in the public sphere. They implicate many in our movement of subversive activities. This points to a crisis in the ANC. Alone it is unable to deal with the current Challenges.
We should make a call that the Alliance Political Council should meet urgently. This is important, particularly as the ANC prepares for its National Policy Conference this month.
We should not hide the fact that the alliance as it stands is ineffective. We must respond to this question as workers who are members of the ANC, SACP, and Sanco.
The alliance must work together in generating the conceptual framework of Radical Socio-Economic Transformation and create a common practical meaning.
It should not be a concept whose momentum pulls the majority by surprise. If this is not handled properly, it will vulgarize this important concept to our collective disadvantage.
6.4 Cosatu Central Committee points
Comrades, recently we attended the Central Committee of Cosatu. That Central Committee undertook to take action against corruption, state capture, and the demand for the creation of more jobs, while defending the current jobs amongst other things.
The Central Committee of Cosatu also rectified the Central Executive Committee decision to support comrade Cyril Ramaphosa as the next President of the ANC come December 2017 ANC national conference.
The NEC of NUM decided that Cyril Ramaphosa should be the next President of the ANC. Therefore we call upon this Central Committee to endorse this decision and affirm in this regard.
We should ensure that comrade Cyril Ramaphosa `s campaign journey is a success. This is the message we must take to our branches and that of the ANC.
The Deputy President of the ANC has always succeeded the President of the ANC. We want someone who brims hope that the ANC can be rescued from the current challenges.
With this call we shall be condemning the brazen unusual tendencies and the corporate capture of South African democratic state. Our sovereignty is not for sale.
Our future, security, and prosperity as expressed in Morogoro to Mangaung ANC conferences must be sustained. The collective dream expressed in the Freedom Charter may be too far to reach, if the current revelations in our country hold true. We need sober leaders we can trust without fear of betrayal.
6.5 Support Judicial commission
Comrades, the capture of our state seems to run deep and wide. Yesterday, it may be Denel, Transnet, Tegeta, Eskom, DMR, and many others. Tomorrow it will be the Judiciary and even unions may not be immune.
The tentacles of the criminal network are long, scheming, and never cease to amaze. Thus as NUM we welcome government and ANC`s commitment towards establishing the judicial commission.
It is clear that the courts of our country are going to play a very important role in days and months to come. Not because of temptation for judicial overreach.
Clearly many of the names appearing in the current developments and email sagas will land in courts, and may lead to jail time. So there could be attempts to begin to defame the judiciary as a despairing tactic by those implicated.
The courts must be resilient and their independence uncontaminated. There is a possibility to target them and the judicial officers given the current revelations which can only be properly and fairly be mediated by them .This must not be allowed to happen.
7.1 Current state of affairs
Our economy has been declared to be in recession. This is due to the fact that the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 have not registered any positive growth .This being defined as technical recession.
Our domestic markets have also been declared junk. While unemployment has risen. This is a toxic concoction that can only lead to despair for workers.
We must take this toxic mix into consideration when we plot the way forward and prepare for wage negotiations.
7.2 Radical Socio-Economic Transformation
There is this famous concept called radical economic transformation that everybody is throwing around except the workers in South Africa. Workers must contest the content of this radical economic transformation.
Without this intervention, radical socio-economic transformation could be about black industrialists alone at the exclusion of workers. Actually none of the leading punters of this concept have ever incorporated the interest of workers as owners of business.
Many look at it from the narrow prism of building black industrialists. This is dangerous because it is a change that may place black people in the platforms of their former oppressors.
Without changing the structural ownership patterns of our economy. Without radically tempering with private accumulation trajectory to benefit all South Africans.
As NUM we should therefore profile a pro-worker content in the definition of radical socio-economic transformation. The workers should look at the best model of Employee Share ownership schemes as part of a broader definition. This should also include cooperatives for communities.
Can we make Esops a compulsory model for big players in strategic sectors to facilitate income distribution?Could this as part of the broader definition of the radical socio-economic transformation concept to address the apartheid wage gap in our industries.
8. SECTORS WE ORGANISE
8.1 Energy sector
Comrades and delegates, in 2016, NUM embarked on a strike to force Eskom to accede to our members demands. The employer met the demands with a salary increase of 10%, at the minimum of the salary scale.
This victory was through force of strike. Not out of the employer `s generosity. This is important to note or emphasise. Our members went on strike because the leadership of Eskom, both the executives and the board behaved like any other arrogant and brutal employer.
After the strike, a number of workers joined NUM in droves. We recruited about 567 new members in 10 months. Meaning we recruited 57 members per day in ten months. This is worth a round of applause.
Workers want a fighting union and not a sweetheart organisation. Militancy is the only character employers understand and workers appreciate.
8.2 Apartheid wage gap
Eskom under this black and African leadership today, refuses to address the apartheid wage gap called ‘income differentials’. So they perpetuate wage discrepancy and inequality across racial and gender lines in post-Apartheid South Africa.
Eskom Board and executives, see nothing wrong with this colonial racist legacy. After all, they now appear in public to be part of the feeding frenzy.
Some if not all are dispensing the public purse to friends and cronies linked to a corrupt subversive network. A network that undermines the popular will of our people who elected the ANC to govern our country properly.
8.3 Minimum Service Agreement
We still do not have a properly bargained for Minimum Service Agreement with Eskom. This creates an environment of sustained abuse of the workers and must come to an end.
Thus we should resist the temptation to create or buy into the impression that Eskom Board and its executives are better employers.
8.4 Closure of power stations
Eskom threatened to close five power stations to reduce CO2 emissions. This would give independent power producers (IPPs) the business opportunity. But this is a threat to our jobs.
The suspension to close 5 coal power stations is welcome. But we know that suspension is not elimination but only a pause. We demand that this ends completely and we should make this call as the Central Committee.
Eskom must be in the hands of the state on behalf of the people of South Africa. Energy or power generation is a state competency. Finish and klaar!
8.5 Threat by corporate interests
If there is intention to introduce IPPs, this must not climb on the back of Eskom. Eskom is a public entity and it must compete with these IPPs. In simple, public funds must not be used for private accumulation.
Comrades, profit Scavengers and plunderers see NUM as potential instrument to advance corporate interests. These scavengers may want to use NUM to get at Ubank.
The association with this bank makes NUM structures, leaders, and members, the most sought after product. We must remain vigilant and highly politically conscious.
8.6 Rescission of Molefe Appointment
As the Central Committee we welcome the rescission of the re-appointment of Brain Molefe as the CEO of Eskom. This dealing and dining between Brian Molefe, Eskom Board, and Minister Brown should not have happened in the first place.
As a result, Eskom has suffered big and deep reputational injury. Thus it is unavoidable to call for the dissolution of the erroneous Board.
Let me take this opportunity on behalf of NUM and this Central Committee to send our message of support to the family, friends, and comrades of the late Thembekile Yende who was laid to rest last week. May her soul rest in peace. As we all know, autopsy has confirmed that she was strangled.
Her death profiles fundamental aspects of safety and security of women and all workers in general. We hope once justice prevails this will improve safety to prevent similar events happening. The conditions must be created by the employers which are conducive for women at all Eskom workplaces.
8.7 Nuclear programme
Comrades, NUM is not opposed to energy mix but we remain opposed to nuclear.
9. MINING INDUSTRY
9.1 Declining mode and implications
The gold mining industry is in a declining mode. As a result mining companies prefer to invest in the current mines by going even deeper.
For example, Mponeng Mine getting below 3km deep and becoming the deepest mine in the world. The companies do not equally invest in technological innovation to deal with Health and Safety.
Where the orebody has been depleted, companies leave mines without due rehabilitation. The unemployed skilled miners turn up for illegal mining activities.
We call on government to relook into this corporate neglect and see how companies can be held liable. Government should also look at how this neglect can be turned into a constructive positive activity for our economy if possible.
9.2 Retrenchments in mining
In January 2017 AngloGold Ashanti issued a notice to retrench 849 of its employees. Although NUM managed to engage and prevented the retrenchments, we view this as tip of the problem.
My view is that more of Section 189(3) notices will be coming in the near future. This trend will happen to other gold mining companies.
We must ensure that DMR gets involved in these processes. But it must also be expensive for companies to exercise such an option. While the status quo says: one week of each year of completed service, we demand one month for each year of completed service. We shall campaign for this successfully.
9.3 Leadership battles kill branches
Comrades, leadership battles in NUM branches are compromising service to members. This situation triggers decline in membership. This possible decline will affect our majority in wage negotiations in 2018.
We will be unable to direct the momentum of negotiations as usual. There needs to be urgent intervention in creating stability in our branches and recruiting more members to leverage our bargaining power.
9.4 Decentralisation of collective bargaining
The industry is gradually decentralising collective bargaining. This has already happed in the coal sector where companies negotiated individually.
This move seeks to weaken the bargaining power of unions. We must resist this development. Surely, it takes away our gains and advantages. It will destroy our union.
9.5 Employer manufactured divisions
We have seen how the mining industry created divisions amongst workers and between unions. Sibanye Gold is the laboratory of these divisions.
At Sibanye operations, the rival union was given organisational rights even though the required threshold was not met. The company now uses what is called ‘sufficient representation’. Effectively fragmenting unions and disempowering them.
As a result, it has been very difficult for NUM to mobilise for a strike when required. A rival union would simply oppose such an initiative no matter how legitimate the demands are for all workers. This must be confronted.
9.6 Recalling regional and national office bearers
The mining companies are recalling full-time Regional Office Bearers of NUM back to work. The direct effect of this is weak unions, poor service, and unhappy members. They are continuing to effect changes without working with unions.
Against these challenges, NUM must recruit and organise back former members to strengthen itself for a real battle. This requires branches and regions to have an active mobilisation and recruitment plan. It needs organisers who work with branches visibly, consistently, and passionately in the service of our members.
10. CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
10.1 Our growth point
Comrades, the construction sector remains our true growth point. It is also one of the most dangerous pertaining to fatalities and injuries. The workers in this industry are highly vulnerable to health and safety hazards. Including abuse and exploitative working conditions.
NUM must take up the challenge and provide protection and better service to these workers. In the context of the commitment by government, to many bulk infrastructure projects in terms of building residential complexes, roads, bridges, shopping complexes and so on, NUM must have a responsive plan from this Central Committee.
We must reclaim the dignity of construction workers. We must resolve that it will be our campaign that no construction worker will be employed and remunerated without a proper pay-slip in our country from today.
Our members must have proper written contracts, even if employment is for a short term. Both the pay slips and contracts of employment are about the dignity of the individual worker.
With these documents members are able to engage in official financial transactions to buy food and furniture for their families or in advancing personal interest.
NUM must continue to fight for the dignity of the construction workers even after this Central Committee. Regions will have to generate plans working with the national leadership.
Dear delegates, many of our people work for short-term contract in the construction sector. After these short stints at work they develop or acquire certain skills. But the construction sector bosses refuse to recognise them as either skilled or semi-skilled.
In some instances, where workers are trained and receive competency certificates, employers hide these certificates from them .So as to lock them to the particular company, and deprive them mobility to better paying jobs.
This abuse must end .For this organisation to remain the union of choice in the construction sector, it will have to fight and dislodge this continued racist occupational abuse.
10.2 De-recognition and power vacuum
The de-recognition of NUM in some companies has created leadership vacuum in terms of health and safety in our branches. NUM must embark on reviving health and safety structures across the board in our regions to promote Health and Safety.
Furthermore, companies are turning towards pillar mining in the gold sector. This kind of mining is the most dangerous practice as the risks are high for workers. Thus we call on our members to remain highly vigilant and understand Health and Safety rules, rights and requirements.
This Central Committee must to call on branches linked to these kinds of activities to have health and safety as a standing agenda item in every branch and regional meeting. This will drill the necessary health and safety awareness.
10.3 Risk and oversight
In 2015, the Department of Labour found that the construction industry had a ‘less than 50% rate of compliance’ in terms of health and safety. There is low level of oversight by inspectors to enforce compliance. We must worry about this and act on it.
There is also improper risk assessment of projects hence injuries and fatalities. It is important that every project before approval has a trained health and safety practitioner on site. The NUM Health and Safety Unit must lead us in making sure that there is impact to this effect.
Let us join forces, let us unite, review our efforts, plan better recruitment tactics and strategies, and exercise discipline.
I call on all of you to embrace this Central Committee as now formally open .Let us Recruit, Fight Retrenchments, Assess and Forge Unity in our deliberations.
Forward with unity, forward with fighting retrenchments, forward with recruitment forward.