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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Campaigns  |  Miscellaneous

COSATU's Job Crisis Campaign

Make jobs, not profits!

10 May 2000


COSATU's National Congress in September 1999 developed a programme and campaign to address job losses. In July 1999 COSATU submitted a Section 77 notice to NEDLAC which detailed all of our demands. A series of meetings have been convened by NEDLAC to try to address the crisis, but so far there has been no resolution. If our demands are not met, COSATU will engage in protest action that will be protected under the law.

How safe is your job? Join a COSATU union to fight job losses. 10 May 2000 - Photo courtesy of Woza News

Graphic courtesy of Woza News.

The campaign was launched on 31 January in all regions. All unions had their own sector specific programmes.

Provincial Actions

6 - 10 Mar
13 - 17 Mar
20 - 24 Mar
29 Mar - 1 Apr
3 - 8 April
10 - 15 April
17 - 22 April
24 - 29 April

Bringing on board civil society

COSATU met at National level with our Alliance partners, youth and women’s organisations, the unemployed, communities, sports and religious organisations, academics and NGO’s. COSATU has explained our campaign and the reasons for it. All organisations expressed their concern at the high level of job losses and broadly embraced our initiative. Further meetings will now be held at regional or provincial level. A broad meeting was held on 29 February where organisations of civil society, together with COSATU, set up a broad coordinating committee to define a job creation programme for the next few months.

Link between poverty and unemployment

Half of all the households in South African depend for their survival on money from a family member who works. On average one wage earner supports ten people. Because there is no social security system in South Africa, when one worker loses their job it affects whole families and communities. Currently about 37% of workers are unemployed, which is over 4.5 million people.

Sector Actions

31 Jan - 5 Feb
7 Feb - 12 Feb
14 Feb - 19 Feb
21 Feb - 26 Feb
26 Feb - 4 Mar
Public Sector
Paper & Printing

Jobs Summit

These agreements were reached at the 1998 Presidential Job Summit

  • Policieswould be developed to help industries to survive and to stimulate new ones to develop. This would help to keep jobs and create new ones.

  • 100 000 COSATU members march against job losses and for job creation

    Graphic courtesy of William Matlala.

  • The delivery of housing would be speeded up and the amount of rental stock increased.

  • A number of training and education programmes for youth, women, and the disabled would be run to assist them to find or generate employment.

  • A number of policies affecting the labour market would be undertaken, and a basic income grant for the unemployed.

  • A range of special employment programmes and integrated regional projects would be undertaken such as the Youth Brigade, Student Community Service and Working for Water programme, clean and green cities and the land care project.

  • Various ways and means would be used to raise money, such as labour’s Job Creation Trust which workers contributed to, and the government’s Umsobomvu Fund. These funds would be spent on delivery areas that will create jobs.

  • The government’s economic policies would be reviewed so that jobs would be created, and investment and savings would increase.

  • Developmentalinstitutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will be transformed and used to pursue the programmes and policies agreed at the Jobs Summit.

  • Job loss figures for 1999

  • Between 1991 and 1999 there were 500 000 jobs lost in all sectors except agriculture.

  • In the mining sector there were 150 000 jobs lost.

  • In the manufacturing sector there were 110 000 jobs lost.

  • In the building sector there were 100 000 jobs lost and 30 000 jobs are threatened.

  • Government-owned enterprises such as Eskom and Spoornet are threatening to retrench thousands of workers.

  • In the public sector there are 170 000 fewer workers than 4 years ago Eachyear there are 370 000 new job seekers.

  • COSATU’s demands

    1. Retrenchment
    2. How safe is youjob? Join COSATU to fight job losses. 10 May 2000 - Photo courtesy of News24.co.za

      Graphic courtesy of News24.co.za.

      Over the last few years employers have been retrenching large numbers of workers. They have been doing this without major difficulty because the law on operational requirements (section 189 of the LRA) says that they have only to consult rather than negotiate with workers. COSATU says that employers should not be able to retrench workers as easily as they do at the moment – section 189 of the LRA should be amended so that when they wish to retrench, employers have to negotiate with workers. COSATU is also saying that the severance package of one week for every year of service should be increased to one month of every year of service – this will make it more difficult for employers to retrench as their own pockets will be affected.

    3. Insolvency Laws
    4. There have been many examples of companies who have liquidated voluntarily – that is the managers have themselves requested to be liquidated because their profits are not high enough. An example of this is the ERPM mine which recently sought liquidation. Often the same companies reappear a short while later under different names, but by then the workers are unemployed.

    5. National Framework Agreement
    6. The government and the public sector should adhere to this agreement. There should be no unilateral restructuring and privatisation resulting in the loss of jobs.

    7. Tariffs
    8. God looked at my work and was pleased. Then she looked at my salary, and bowed her head and wept. 10 May 2000 - Photo courtesy of News24.co.za

      Graphic courtesy of News24.co.za.

      COSATU believes the government is reducing the tariff rates too fast – at the moment they are reducing faster than what is required by GATT.

      This means that imported goods flood our market and our local industries suffer.

      The textile industry, for example, has suffered seriously from the speedy reduction of import tariffs.

      COSATU has also been campaigning for South Africans to “buy local” – that is to buy only products which are made in South Africa.

      We have also demanded that there should be a more effective monitoring of our borders to prevent goods from entering South Africa illegally and threatening our jobs.