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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU prepares to engage at Nedlac

10 August 2017

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has filed several Section 77 Notices at the National Economic Development and Labour Council [NEDLAC] to try and deal with a myriad of socio-economic issues affecting the workers and the working class.

These Section 77 notices vary from the one focusing on the introduction of renewable energy and Independent Power Producers that has resulted in the closure of coal mines and power stations by Eskom, and to the one focusing on the call for the total banning of labour broking.

We also want social partners at Nedlac to deal with the ongoing retrenchments and job losses that are affecting all the sectors of the economy and we are also intending to push all partners at to deal with state capture and the scourge of corruption in both the public and private sectors

On Renewable energy and Closure of Mines

COSATU has noted with deep concern the problematic stance taken by Eskom and government to prematurely phase out certain power stations, which will result in job losses, estimated to number more than 6 000.

The federation agrees that the economy should reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and increase the use of energy from water, sunlight and wind. However, the transition to low carbon economy must be just and must address, who owns and controls these sources of energy and how local production and jobs will be created.

COSATU also argues that the transition must ensure that only the state should remain the provider of this public good. Liberalising the energy sector will not increase jobs; instead it will negatively defeat the goal of the National Development Plan of reducing unemployment to 14% by 2020 and to 6% by 2030.

Capitalism is the primary cause of climate change as it is based on the super exploitation of labour and the earth's natural resources. Therefore, the solution to climate change does not lie in green-washing capitalism.

COSATU will reject the closure of coal mines as it will lead to loss of jobs without creating similar number of jobs in the renewable sector. The compulsory purchase of renewable energy from the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) will result in the backdoor privatisation of Eskom. For many years, re-skilling of workers by employers has been relegated to nothing, with many of these retrenched workers forced into destitution.

The IPP sector is likely to destroy more jobs than to create new ones as it has been proved that the sector is not labour intensive.

We therefore demand that IPP's should be suspended immediately and that Eskom must not sign new IPP contracts. The federation also demands that government must further stop all plans to commercialise and privatise Eskom.

If no resolution is found in Nedlac, COSATU will embark on a protest action against independent power producers and government in a form of marches, stay away and pickets until all parties agree. The Section 77 on Renewable energy and Closure of Mines was filed on the 21st June 2017.

On State Capture and Corruption

The federation filed the Section 77 Notice on State Capture and Corruption on the 17th July 2017 in which we raised concerns about the fact that the apartheid legacy has its impact felt by the working class on a daily basis.

Economically and socially, we have seen the exploitative practises getting entrenched in the mist of widening inequalities in the country. We expect the state to play its critical role of ensuring that inclusive economy, the re-distribution of wealth and the provision of adequate social welfare happens.

However, the noble plans are and continue to be obstructed by systematic capture of the state by well-organised predatory elite, with established relations in the state owned enterprises.

COSATU has raised concerns on the looting that is taking place in all related institutions and government departments, whilst the poor and the marginalised classes are mired in deep poverty.

These negative developments have undermined the constitutional and developmental role the state is supposed to play and thus widening inequalities and eroding confidence on the state to deliver on its promises to the masses.

State capture has, amongst others, eaten away investor's confidence in the South African economy, eroded revenue collection, stifled investment and reinvestment in productive parts of the economy, promoted a culture of corruption and led to failures to uncover additional corruption in other tiers of government and also in the private sector.

  • COSATU therefore demands the dismantling of the networks of the predatory elites and also ensure that the Public Protector's recommendations regarding the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is implemented immediately
  • We further demand that the President of the Republic of South Africa must establish the Judicial Commission of Inquiry within four weeks of filing this Notice
  • There must be a process to identify all other parties involved in state capture and they should be blacklisted
  • All contracts entered into with predatory elite's network must be terminated and monies spent in these deals must be recovered
  • All contracts entered with the Gupta's must be urgently reviewed by the Auditor General for irregularities and all monies recovered must be used to address the plight of workers, the working class and the poor Government Ministers who are implicated in all alleged state capture activities must be urgently investigated and charged for their actions

If all the demands are not met by government, Business Unity South Africa and Black Business Council, COSATU will embark on rallies, demonstrations, pickets, marches, stay away and shut down the economy.

On Retrenchments and Job Losses

Over the years, employers have abused the retrenchment procedures under the LRA by using different reasons for operational requirements, including reducing costs of doing business, reducing wages, maintaining high profit kevels and avoiding insolvency.

COSATU and its affiliated trade unions reject the current planned retrenchments by employers, which will push further more families into destitution and adverse poverty. These actions will further deepen the levels of the working poor to unimaginable proportions.

A manufactured crisis of profits that is meant to ensure a steady stream of exorbitant bonuses for executives cannot be a fair reason for retrenchments. South Africa is facing a jobs bloodbath, with high levels of unemployment reaching above 37% when using the broad definition of unemployment.

Over 9.3 million people are without jobs and their rights to human dignity have been violated. Therefore, it is unlikely that the NDP target of reducing unemployment to 14% in 2920 will be achieved if the situation is left unchallenged.

Whilst the social security system has sustained to capture the crisis of unemployment, this cannot be sustained any more. Thus COSATU has been calling for a Basic Income Grant for many years to create an alternative.

Half of the workforce still earns less than R3, 700 per month and many workers are suffering with their families. Despite all the protective labour laws, mining companies have continued to lay off workers and used retrenchments to destroy the rights of workers, to reduce wages and also to weaken trade unions.

Furthermore, large companies are hiding their cash reserves in bank accounts and not investing them in productive projects. Instead, they continue to invest in financial assets despite South Africa's unemployment crisis.

COSATU and its affiliated trade unions have said many times that dismissing workers in order to increase profits is inconsistent with decent work.

In order to give effect to the right to fair labour practices, job security, decent work and the need to regulate retrenchments, we demand an agreement to address the scourge of job losses.

  • COSATU demands an immediate moratorium on retrenchments in all sectors of the economy until a Job Summit is held.
  • Section 189 and 189A of the LRA must be restricted to companies that are insolvent.
  • All retrenchments must be referred to the CCMA for ratification.
  • Government must bail out companies that are insolvent by injecting equity capital during business rescue process.
  • The severance pay must be guaranteed and agreements must be secured on minimum severance pay.
  • All companies must give all employees loan free voting shares and not only limit that to executives and managers.
  • Executive salaries and share options must be approved by workers as labour.
  • Government must convene a Jobs Summit within three months to address issues of economic growth and decent work.

If all the demands are not met by government, Business Unity South Africa, Chamber of Mines, CCMA and Black Business Council, COSATU will embark on rallies, demonstrations, pickets, marches, stay away and shut down the economy.

COSATU will be at Nedlac on the 15th August to make presentations on the renewable Energy and Closure of Coal Mines and on State Capture and Corruption.

Issued by COSATU

For more information contact:
Bheki Ntshalintshali
COSATU General Secretary
Theo Steele
COSATU National Organizing Secretary
Cell: 082 563 6955