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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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  |  Declarations

COSATU 6th Central Committee Meeting held from 29th May - 1st June 2017, Saint George's Conference Centre, Pretoria

We the delegates representing more than 1, 7 million workers organized under COSATU and millions of unorganized and unemployed workers across the length and breadth of our country and the world; we rise from this 6th Central Committee of our glorious federation convened under the theme "the Unity and cohesion of COSATU to advance the National Democratic Revolution for Socialism" with confidence that our victory for socialism is certain.

We remain inspired by the frank and open debates which put the interests of our members and the entire working class above everything. We are certain that the process of building a strong, militant and fighting federation is unstoppable. Our affiliates are camping in the workplaces all over the country leading workplace struggles that are waged in the undying spirit of "no surrender", with the leadership occupying the front ranks in this class combat.

The comradely spirit which has accompanied these profound and principled debates communicated a message that indeed this federation of Elijah Barayi, Allinah Rantsolase, John Gomomo, Chris Dlamini and Violet Seboni is built on the strong foundation of unity of workers. This unity is based on our shared understanding that our primary class enemy is monopoly capital and white monopoly capital in particular.

We are certain that the tradition of subjecting every opinion to a thorough process of democratic cross examination has not been and will never be compromised. The discipline of collective leadership and democratic centralism remains intact. Once a decision is taken all members regardless of the position held during the meeting have the responsibility to implement and defend such a decision, and that lower structures respect and abide by the decisions taken by upper structures. We are marching forward as a united and disciplined organized detachment of the working class in advancing the National Democratic Revolution and the struggle for socialism.

We remain a home for all workers, always confident passionate about resolving the challenges facing the workers.

COSATU remains a fighting federation not by decree but through the daily struggles we lead on the ground. Workers have seen firsthand the victories achieved in COSATU led struggles, when we secured the following victories amongst others:

  1. A new Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Act was signed into law,
  2. when we successfully forced government and business into adopting a legislated National Minimum Wage,
  3. When we stood up and stopped compulsory preservation of workers retirement fund benefits declaring that there shall be nothing about us, without us!
  4. It is COSATU struggles that have forced the democratic government to be more decisive in reversing the legacy of the land dispossessions which has always been at the centre of our liberation struggle.
  5. It is through the relentless struggles of COSATU that today government has tabled a discussion document towards the Comprehensive Social Security System Bill.
  6. As COSATU, we effectively engage both in the streets and in boardrooms with equal finesse and vigour.
  7. We have forced the department of minerals to compensate the families of the trapped miners and those who were injured at the Lily Mine. We are now calling on the department of Mineral Resources to ensure that the bodies of workers, who are still trapped, are recovered so that families can have proper closure on the loss of their loved ones.
  8. We continue to work with the 3000 dismissed workers at Umbhaba and we are engaging with our partners to ensure that the workers get adequate legal representation.
  9. We have successfully engaged in policy legislation that covered more than 20 sectors.

In this regard, this 6th Central Committee commits to heighten our back to basics campaign which will include ensuring a vigorous organisation building for the federation. This will include the launching of COSATU locals based on clear programmes and tasks, we will focus our energies and resources to build capacity for local leadership, organizing the unorganized through heightening our recruitment campaign. We shall focus more on vulnerable sectors, recruiting and organizing young workers and supporting recruitment programmes for industrial unions; ensuring service to our members and also consolidating our listening campaign in workplaces. The 6th Central Committee reaffirms the need to strength COSATU affiliates including supporting those unions that are under attack or experiencing internal challenges.

In this regard the Central Committee instructs the NOBs to decisively intervene in unions where there are challenges and not allow unions to use their autonomy to frustrate COSATU's intervention processes. A trade union's autonomy must not be used to place unions above the federation!

Our Central Committee took place under a dark cloud of increased cases of violence directed at women and children. We condemn these inhumane and barbaric acts directed at women and children. We call on government to give more resources to the court system so that prosecutions can be speeded up and carried out more efficiently and to identify one day which will be declared as a focus national day for women and children.

This year we celebrate the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which transformed a backward, semi-feudal and poverty-stricken country into a highly advanced modern society. This is indeed a momentous moment for us as a red trade union movement and for the global working class and political formations. Appreciating our indebtedness to the experiences and theory of revolution developed in the theatre of the Russian Revolution, working with our vanguard party, the SACP, we shall develop a programme to embark on a range of activities to mark this centenary based on a political counter narrative that will challenge the current hegemonic right-wing narrative.

Since the demise of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world has seen a continuous deepening crisis of capitalism which is forever trying to reform itself with dismal results. As part of the deepening crisis and attempts by capitalism to reform itself, the world has recently seen the rise of the right wing all over the world mainly concentrated in Europe. Their agenda is characterised by racism, white supremacy, xenophobia, including anti-Semitism. All of this is predicated on economic nationalism and directly challenging the laws and institutions that promote human dignity, tolerance, and equality.

The wave of radical transformation seen in Latin American countries has recently experienced strategic reversals with some left governments such as in Brazil being impeached out of power. These changes which include changes of government in India have dashed any hope that the emergence of BRICS as a counter-balancing ideological force against the USA-led imperialism.

The living conditions for the people of Swaziland under Tinkundla rule have worsened and the political oppression has deepened, the people of Palestine continue to be subjected to terrible conditions by the Israel -apartheid brutality, and despite the USA's public relations posturing regarding diplomatic relations with CUBA, the reality remains that the economy of CUBA continues to be strangled by economic sanctions imposed by the USA government ;and the advances achieved in the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela are under threat from the USA led political and economic offensive In this context, the Central Committee commits to ensure that resources are made available to heighten practical and visible solidarity campaigns with the fighting people of Swaziland, Palestine , CUBA and Venezuela.

The CC congratulates the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and its African affiliates for hosting a successful 17th Trade Union Congress in Durban, and also to Comrade Mzwandile Makwayiba, for his election as the 11th President of the WFTU since its establishment in 1945.

This 6th Central Committee has taken place against the background of a persistent global crisis of capitalism, which is characterized by extreme levels of poverty by the working class and extreme levels of opulence by the bourgeoisie.

We live in a world in which the rich 10% owns 90% of global wealth, 71% of the population lives on less than R100 a day and 780 million people have no access to clean drinking water and unemployment shall surpass 200 million by the end of this year, growing by 3.4 million in 2017.

In South Africa more than 9million people including those who are tired of looking for a job are unemployed and over 5O% of young people remain unemployed. This is compounded by the massive job losses in the mining, agriculture and in the manufacturing sector; in particular (the steel and the auto sector).The recent disinvestment by General Motors (GMSA) from our country will add to the unemployment crisis. We are looking forward at the long awaited government's Master Plan which is aimed at growing domestic vehicle production.

This Central Committee is deeply concerned about the state of the economy, and feels that the sovereign ratings down-grade of our economy to junk status; and its severe impact on socio-economic conditions of workers and society at large reflects a painful reality of wrong policy choices and lack of decisive leadership in favour of the working class adopted by government in the past 22 years since the 1994 democratic breakthrough.

The increasing use of ICT and automation instead of workers has become a global phenomenon which is driven by greed and a quest for higher profits. The technological developments are being introduced into the market at a faster rate displacing current jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Employers are abusing section 189 by retrenching workers because of this introduction of technology in the workplace. We will fight to ensure that these changes do not lead to job losses and that women in particular do not become victims of exploitation in the process.

All this means that there is an urgent need to decisively restructure and radically transform the structure of the South African economy and diversify away from Minerals-Energy Finance Industrial Complex, and its neo-colonial development trajectory. South Africa will continue to suffer from the triple-crisis of rising unemployment, poverty and social inequality if this is not changed.

In this regard, we will ensure that we lead struggles on the ground to reconfigure the alliance in a manner that makes it to be the centre of driving a second more radical phase of our transition characterized by radical socio economic transformation.

We will fight against wrong notions of radical economic transformation which are inter-laced with neo-liberalism, which seeks to keep existing property relations intact and merely wants to perfect the functioning of the existing system of capitalist accumulation.

We will instead fight for a radical socio economic transformation which seeks to tackle property relations as the starting point, and thus wants to lay the basis for the development of society along egalitarian lines.

The 6th Central Committee declares that we will go out to our unions and our workplaces to intensify the struggle based on the following tasks:

1. We will intensify our Living Wage Campaign through the following:

  1. intensifying our struggle to combat unfairness in the workplace
  2. heightening our campaign to ensure speedy implementation of the agreed to National Minimum Wage
  3. Driving a COSATU led Campaign to intensify our support for the fight to achieve free education for the poor, which will include fighting for the transformation of the curriculum both in higher education and basic education. This should be used to meet the demands of the country and the 4th industrial revolution. This campaign will also include a fight against privatization of education.
  4. Launching a campaign towards a final push for the total banning of Labour brokers and eradication of casualisation.
  5. Intensifying our campaign towards the Implementation of NHI
  6. Intensifying our fight for quality jobs and this regard will conduct research on the possible impact of the 4th industrial revolution on jobs. It must not undermine jobs and work .The 4th industrial revolution must be at the service of humanity as whole and not profits.
  7. Fight to ensure that the package of retrenched workers is improved from one week of service to four weeks.
  8. We shall launch a campaign directed at all institutions which are responsible for the investment of workers retirement and pension funds, such as the PIC to ensure that their investment directly benefits the workers and the working class in general.

2. We will submit a section 77 notice at NEDLAC and should negotiations fail to provide a solution we will launch a series of general strikes on the following:

  1. Against state capture which has compromised our revolution.
  2. Against corruption both in the private and public sectors and this will include intensifying our fight against price fixing and carte behaviour. The strategic focus will be on ensuring that culprits are arrested, effectively prosecuted based on credible evidence and are convicted and get long sentences to communicate a clear message of zero tolerance against corruption.
  3. To demand that for our democracy all key state institutions be led by people with integrity who must first go through thorough screening before they could be employed. This includes ensuring that our State Owned Enterprises and other government agencies add strategic capacity and value in the construction of a developmental state and that they are not used as milking cows by the parasitic and corrupt bourgeoisie.
  4. To demand the nationalization of the Reserve Bank and that its work should be anchored on an unambiguous developmental mandate and not a narrow focus towards "the achievement and maintenance of price stability"
  5. To demand that the nuclear project be put on hold,
  6. To call for the halting of closure of coal mines and power stations and to fight against Independent Power Producers.
  7. To call for the review of BBEE intervention based on past experience, to assess whether BBBEE has benefited the majority of Blacks in general and Africans in particular. Our own experience shows that it has only benefited a few black elite. Hence we are calling for an approach that will benefit a majority of black and African working people.

3. We will launch a campaign on the transformation of the National Treasury which should include its overall ideological orientation.
4. We will work with the SACP to prepare for the Jobs Summit.
5. To intensify our joint work and campaigns with progressive social movements guided by the criteria adopted at our 8th Congress.
6. Call for the immediate implementation of Financial Intelligence Centre Act
7. To fight against the agencification of the state
8. We will work with the SACP to advance the struggle for Socialism:
9. We condemn the dirty campaigns against those who speak out against corruption, who stand against abuse of our constitution, those who speak against state capture and we condemn political intolerance.
10. The 6th Central Committee also reaffirmed the decision to have comrade Jacob Zuma step down as the president of the country, and that he can no longer address any of the COSATU meetings.

The Central Committee has reaffirmed Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa as the preferred candidate to stand for the position of president in the forthcoming ANC 54th National Conference. As soon as the ANC NEC has opened the discussions towards the 54th National Conference , we will work on the ground and with the ANC structures, who share our view to ensure that Comrade Cyril is finally elected as the next ANC presiden . We will do this unapologetically based on the fact that the ANC is ours too!

All affiliates and members will work with the NOBs to ensure that all these tasks are practically executed on the ground.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794