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Central Exec  |  Resolutions

COSATU 2nd Central Committee - Resolutions

Organisational renewal to deepen service to our members

16 April 2003

Table of Contents

1. Resolution on Organisational Renewal Process

2. Resolution on State and Future of the Federation

3. Resolutions on affiliates



The COSATU 2nd Central Committee Resolution on Organisational Renewal Process

The 2nd Central Committee noted:

1. The September Commission report, 7th National Congress and 2001 Central Committee resolutions on Organisational Review.
2. Work done by affiliates in the following areas:

a. Collective bargaining and organizing;
b. Management and leadership development;
c. Service to members;
d. Union education including staff development and political education;
e. Review of Constitutional structures; and
f. Membership systems.

3. The uneven progress in implementing the resolutions of the 1st Central Com-mittee on organisational review by affiliates and the federation.
4. The scourge of HIV/AIDS poses a new threat to our social base.
5. The current socio economic and political environment under which we oper-ated as articulated by the CEC political papers.

Believing that:
1. Organisational Renewal is an ongoing process to ensure effective organiza-tions that are able to service members and meet new challenges.
2. We should be guided by our rich values and traditions when we conduct organisational review.
3. While the federation must set the framework, each affiliate must adopt a strategy that is unique to its sector and organisational challenges it faces. However, this must be within the broad framework set by the federation.
4. COSATU has been weak in consistently supporting affiliates to conduct organisational review.
5. Some unions that have just gone through mergers are experiencing organisa-tional challenges. This underlines the need for a carefully designed approach to the mergers to anticipate organisational challenges that arise from bringing together unions that have different internal systems, traditions and culture.

Thereby resolve:
1. The Organisational Review Commission should meet after the Central Com-mittee and spell out clearly the movement and steps towards the final circulation of congress documents in August and for discussions in the 8th National Congress. The federation’s own Organisational Review process should be developed much more concretely.
2. Affiliates are called on to conduct an organizational review. On that basis, de-velop an organisational renewal plan with measurable targets, timeframes and key areas of work. Key areas of work include:

a) Worker Control – how well elections work, the timing and attendance at meetings, communications including internal media;
b) Recruitment – how has membership developed? How successful has the union been in growing in major employers, breaking into new enterprises – and serving new members?
c) Service to members and shop stewards – how do organisers back up shop steward? What does the union emphasis in service to members, and how well has it achieved its key objectives?
d) Education of shop stewards, organisers and members to ensure general coherence around strategic aims as well as developing an ability to handle the new legal procedures for disputes.
e) Gender work – the functioning of gender structures; gender impact of pro-grammes; gender education; gender representivity; and collective bargain-ing.
f) Administrative systems, including financial management and membership.
g) Personnel management, including grading, performance management and staff development.

3. Affiliates are urged to follow the simple review process provided as a recommendation in the Report to this Central Committee. Those affiliates that have undertaken the organization review should assess progress and on that basis revise their plans to tackle new challenges. To that extent every union should:

a) Have a dedicated NOB responsible for the organisational review process;
b) Have dedicated capacity among its officials and elected leaders;
c) Establish a reference group to discuss the findings and guide the process through regular meetings.

4. An organisational review process would have the following key steps:

a. A discussion in the constitutional structures to inform leaders about the process, establish the main structures and allocate personnel and resources. Define the relationship between the Organisational Review process and Constitutional structures.
b. Communication of the process through internal media
c. Workshops at provincial/regional and sectoral level to identify key problems and propose solutions, especially on how to improve re-cruitment and service to members and shop stewards
d. Workshop of head office staff to evaluate internal personnel and fi-nancial management
e. Development of report to constitutional structures
f. NOBs’ lekgotla to discuss the report and finalise proposals with an implementation plan, including ways to ensure on-going monitoring and review of organisational needs in the future
g. Discussion in constitutional structures

5. The Organisational Review Commission should also be a platform for affili-ates to share experience on organisational development.
6. The organisational review process must be inclusive and consultative. In particular members must be consulted and receive regular report backs.
7. The report on this work should be submitted by the 14th July 2003 to the federation.
8. During this process COSATU Office Bearers and members of the Organisational Review Commission must be more visible in affiliates and at all levels of the federation to assist with the Organisational Review work. This means they should assist affiliates to develop their Plans and monitor progress.
9. The coming 8th National Congress must receive detailed reports on progress from COSATU and affiliates. This means the Organisational Review Commis-sion should meet not later than July 2003 to prepare this report for congress.

Further Resolve:
10. To engage Naledi and Ditsela to help affiliates that require active support.
11. COSATU must develop a strategy to deal with new affiliates, which often do not have a political history similar to that of the Federation This means these unions should be given intensive induction and education.
12. The federation must create a platform for affiliates to share experience on membership systems as per the discussions in the workshop on membership systems. As such, the Federation should identify best practice on member-ship systems.
13. To reaffirm the 7th National Congress Resolution on HIV/AIDS and to urge the NOBs to accelerate engagements with government and the alliance in order to conclude the NEDLAC Framework on Comprehensive Prevention and Treatment Strategy.

The COSATU 2nd Central Committee Resolution on the State and Future of the Federation

This 2nd Central Committee Noting,
1. We operate under changed conditions of struggle in the context of consolida-tion of democracy and globalisation. The environment in which we operate poses both opportunities and threats to the labour movement.
2. Capital continuously finds new ways of production and organising work to bolster its profits. This result, among others, in fragmentation and differentia-tion of the work force through out-sourcing and casualisation. Ultimately these changes would weaken the union movement if we do not develop innovative strategy to organise these new layers of the working class.
3. Economic restructuring, and resultant competitive pressure, has resulted in massive job losses in some sectors of the economy. Unemployment poses a biggest threat to the labour movement.
4. Political democracy has brought with it new challenges, opportunities and demands on the labour movement. The Federation’s credibility is continu-ously under pressure as we seek to mediate our members’ interest and man-age the alliance.
5. Political democracy also places on us demands that we must develop new strategies and capacity to engage with complex new challenges. In short, we have to adapt our strategies and organisation to this changed reality. Our ini-tial attempts to adapt have themselves led to new set of challenges that must be tackled.
6. While retaining its overall vibrancy and dynamism, the Federation has to re-spond to the pressing organisational challenges facing some of our affiliates. Further, the Federation has to develop a long-term strategy to build its capac-ity and that of its affiliates.

1. The Federation represents organised workers’ most powerful instrument in the new democracy. To that extent it must be nurtured and preserved for future generations of workers.
2. Our current generation of trade unionists have a duty to secure the future by taking bold steps to retain the dynamism of the movement and to address weaknesses wherever they arise.
3. While the Federation is not facing collapse, we need to respond to the new set of organisational challenges that are now becoming apparent.
4. We can draw on our long legacy of struggle and rich history of building a dy-namic and progressive trade union movement. We have built a movement that survived apartheid and its repressive machinery and so we are capable of rising to the challenges that we are now confronting.

1. On Vision

1.1. To retain the character of the Federation as a transformative and revolu-tionary union movement committed to the NDR and the struggle for socialism. We remain committed to addressing broader social questions but primarily defend our members.
1.2. Our vision is to build a Federation that represents all workers of South Af-rica; and that is able to respond to the challenges that may arise from time to time. Thus, we seek to build a strong, vibrant, dynamic, democratic and responsive trade union movement.
1.3. We want a Federation that is the sum total of its parts – meaning we want a Federation that has very strong affiliates capable of responding to de-mands in their own sectors. To that extent, we commit ourselves to building both the capacity of affiliates and the Federation to respond to the overall challenges facing our movement and the needs of the working class.
1.4. We will continuously review changes in the economy and society more broadly, and adapt our organisation accordingly. In the long term this may require revisiting the current organisational form of the Federation as trends such as casualisation become more pronounced and systematic. To that extent, a paper on the future organisational form of the Federation will be developed for discussion at the 8th National Congress.
1.5. In the long run, a job creation industrial strategy is the most effective way to defend the labour movement.

2. On Functions of the Federation

2.1. The Functions of the Federation are:
2.2. To ensure a unified voice for progressive labour, and ensure mutual pro-tection and support between sectors;
2.3. To develop policy positions for the entire working class, going beyond sec-toral needs of individual affiliates, and engage on them, including through national campaigns. To that extent we require the capacity to research and develop policy; involve our membership including through education; and mobilise our base to support our policy demands.
2.4. Union education – the Federation will set overall policies, develop materi-als, and offer advanced training and education, particularly political education in collaboration with the Chris Hani Institute and other progressive institutions. The Federation will develop a curriculum for political education. Further the Federation will as part of eradication of the current uneven development amongst affiliates, ensure that affiliates have education programmes and infrastructure to implement their commitment.
2.5. Support workplace change strategies including through measures to pro-tect jobs and improve the working conditions of our members. This include equity and skills development; health and safety; living wage, and social security. The Federation does not seek to substitute affiliates’ work in this area but to create a better macro environment for affiliates’ sectoral work.
2.6. Organising and Campaigns – the Federation organising strategy has to help deal with organisational development question both at the Federation and affiliates level. This means it must develop a system of detecting prob-lems before they are serious and technical capacity to assist affiliates when they face organisational problems. The Federation must develop capacity to drive recruitment, gender work, campaigns, and co-ordinating solidarity between affiliates, and strengthen regions and locals.
2.7. Co-ordinating International Work to ensure that we build practical global solidarity; and win gains for workers in international forums.

3. On Finances

3.1. The Federation has to improve its finance to avoid financial problems in the event that some of its affiliates are unable to pay their fees.
3.2. To that extent, the National Office Bearers should devise an income gen-eration strategy to complement income from subscriptions. In addition, the Federation should build its reserves to meet unforeseen contingencies.
3.3. The Federation should adopt a cash flow management strategy, which would include controls on expenditure. The question of interest for overdue subscriptions was referred to the CEC in May for finalisation.

In principle it was agreed that the Federation should spell out intervention measures in the event of failure to pay fees and consider charging inter-ests on arrears as a last resort. This includes having bilaterals with affili-ates in the event that they do not pay fees for a specified period to understand the nature of the challenges facing the affected affiliates.
3.4. The bilaterals with affiliates should continue to understand the challenges facing the affiliates not in good standing and or those who in terms of the constitution are no longer affiliates and agree on terms to settle arrears. The final decision will be taken by the CEC in May on the basis of a report to be submitted by the NOBS.
3.5. The CEC should be asked to spell out what constitute ‘good cause’ when the affiliate fails to pay fees after six months.
3.6. The Federation should continuously improve on its own financial manage-ment.

4. On Organisational Review
The Federation’s organisational review should consider the following:
4.1. Whether current units and regions are aligned to the functions of the Fed-eration spelled above.
4.2. To that extent, review all functions and structures of the Federation from head office to locals.
4.3. Management; leadership and resource allocation should be evaluated;
4.4. The power of the Federation and affiliates should be reviewed and where necessary propose Constitutional Amendments. This should however, not tamper with affiliates’ voting rights or their right to determine the direction of the federation.
4.5. Review Internal systems.
4.6. In principle an external facilitator such as DITSELA should be engaged to assist the Federation in its organisational review. The Organisational Review Commission will make a final determination on when to involve the facilitator.

The COSASTU 2nd Central Committee Resolution on Affiliates

1. Issues for Organisational Development Process

The 2nd Central Committee Noted,
1. Inputs from affiliates on the challenges facing sectors, which are included in the report from Commission III.
2. The landmark victory of NEHAWU against the University of Cape Town in the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court made a landmark ruling regard-ing the interpretation of section 197 of the LRA on out-sourcing of workers and the contractual obligations of employers towards transferred workers.

That labour law should be effectively utilised to defend jobs.

1. In addition to the issues listed in the Organisational Review Commission Re-port and the report to the Second Central Committee, the organisational de-velopment process must address:
1.1. The changes in the nature of the labour force, with permanent positions increasingly in the white-collar group while more and more lower-level positions are casualised or informalised,
1.2. Slow implementation of employment equity and skills development legislation, especially as they affect workers,
1.3. Increased emphasis on support for black enterprise in the name of BEE, which can add to the shift to the small employers and outsourcing, to the detriment of workers,
1.4. Employers moving production to neighbouring countries where unions are weaker (this however does not suggest we are in principle opposed to the development of the our region and continent),
1.5. The wage gap between rural and urban areas, which cannot be over-come without broader development efforts and
1.6. Mergers and acquisitions, which often lead to downsizing.

2. COSATU must urgently
2.1. Assist affiliates to share experiences on restructuring, including privatisa-tion; outsourcing and various forms of teamwork, and on that basis develop a framework to assist in workplace strategies.
2.2. Publish our position on BEE and engage at the workplace guided by the policy.
3. Manufacturing unions and the retail sector are most affected by industrial strategy issues. Affiliates and COSATU must strengthen efforts around Proudly South African and other “buy local” campaigns; building union solidar-ity along supply chains; development of sectoral strategies; opposing the overvaluation of the rand; and strengthening union organisation throughout SADC. The Federation will develop a guiding policy on the value of the cur-rency.

4. In the public sector, COSATU must engage more strongly around
4.1. The overall perspective on transformation,
4.2. Measures to improve service and end corruption.

5. COSATU should hold a workshop with the affected affiliates to define a more strategic approach to the NFA and to oppose privatisation of State Owned Enterprises in general. A call must be made to government to comply with the NFA. Furthermore, the NFA should be reviewed to ensure enforcement of agreements. We also support the programme of action by SATAWU to chal-lenge privatisation of the ports; and the plans by NUM and NUMSA to chal-lenge the sale of 30% of ESKOM generation.
6. COSATU activists must take a more active role in school governing bodies and hospital boards.
7. COSATU public-service affiliates must do more to ensure a co-ordinated ap-proach to negotiations at the PSCBC.
8. COSATU should utilise the Constitutional Court ruling to bargain for organisa-tional rights across all sectors.

2. Recruitment and service to members

1. Considerable differences in penetration by sector, with most unions at below 50% of the formal labour force. This points to considerable scope for recruit-ment.
2. The success of SACTWU in driving an effective recruitment campaign, which required considerable reorganisation and redirection of resourcing.
3. In contrast to other affiliates overall recruitment campaign, almost all the SACTWU recruits were transformed into paid membership on stop orders.
4. Given job losses, a strong and permanent recruitment drive is critical to main-taining the strength, militancy and success of COSATU. Success requires that COSATU and each affiliate review responsibilities, structures and re-sourcing for recruitment.
5. An effective recruitment drive requires improvements in service to members.
6. The recruitment drive must be accompanied by policy work to ensure the restructuring of the economy towards job-creating growth, but that will take time to become effective.

1. COSATU and its affiliates must make recruitment a mainstream, on-going ac-tivity so as to reach a target of 10% growth in membership every year, with rising union penetration. Within the overall growth rate, targets should be highest for unions with low penetration rates.
2. The recruitment drive must be based on five pillars:
2.1. Recruitment is a continuous process, not an event.
2.2. It must be sufficiently resourced in terms of staff and funding, and driven by a dedicated structure.
2.3. Unions must protect new recruits whilst in transition to a recognition agreement and ensure they have adequate service.
2.4. Workers in unions outside of COSATU must be regarded as unorgan-ised, since our objective is to establish one union, one industry – and one country, one federation.
2.5. Recruitment must be backed by more education about unions for the general public, since young workers in particular may not understand the need for organisation or the way unions function.
2.6. We should target the youth and students even before they join the labour market for example through offering learnerships and strengthening our relationships with the progressive student and youth formations.
3. A comprehensive framework for recruitment should be based on the following proposal:
3.1. All COSATU affiliates should embark on a three-year recruitment cam-paign to build up funding for recruitment to 10% of income and to ensure 10% growth in membership per year by the end of the period.
3.2. The following objectives should be set for COSATU as a whole:

a. Year 1 – 3% of subs, 50 000 new members
b. Year 2 – 6% of subs, 100 000 new members
c. Year 3 – 10% of subs, 150 000 new members

3.3. These overall targets must broken down into realistic targets for each affiliate:
3.4. Every affiliate should dedicate capacity to the recruitment drive, includ-ing:
a. The General Secretary must take overall responsibility for driving the campaign, as a top priority, and
b. At least one staff member to liase with regions and ensure proper service and induction for new members.
3.5. COSATU should designate three months for national campaigns, includ-ing Red October, and affiliates should run regional and sub sectoral campaigns in the other months
3.6. The engine of growth must be the shop stewards:

a. The union must set targets for shop stewards and organisers
b. Unions should ensure the full-time release of substantial numbers of shop stewards for national campaigns; this requires considerable or-ganisational work in advance, plus reimbursement if an employer does not provide paid leave.

3.7. Regions must provide regular reports to each union’s General Secretary, which in turn must provide monthly reports to COSATU.
3.8. Every affiliate must ensure follow up on membership applications to es-tablish stop orders for subscriptions. This process is difficult and will re-quire major effort, including involvement of NOBs, legal cases, secondary strikes, etc.
3.9. Each affiliate should target workplaces explicitly on a monthly basis:
a. Affiliates should choose targets so as to contribute to formation of bargaining councils by enhancing sectoral representivity
b. Research should identify possible targets based on information from members, shop stewards, organisers, other employers, and even yel-low pages
3 Improving service to members

1. Improved service starts by listening to members and understanding what they want, why they joined the union and how we can address their needs.
2. Unions must address the current problems and environment of our members and shop stewards, taking into account the substantial changes in the past ten years.

1. Every union must establish capacity to monitor service on a regular basis, and deal with problems and complaints.
2. COSATU will define:

2.1. Benchmarks and guidelines for monitoring service, including for staff: member ratios by sector,
2.2. A group of officials in each region to monitor service by affiliates and work with them toward improvements.
2.3. The viability of a call centre so that members can register cases, which COSATU can then allocate to relevant affiliate, monitor and follow up.

3. COSATU must act urgently to assist affiliates to share capacity to service members in remote areas, with the support of COSATU regions. Greater co-operation can save tremendously on travel while improving services for mem-bers. This approach will require COSATU regions to rethink their own ten-dency to focus on metro areas.
4. Unions should do more to allocate responsibility for different types of service as well as recruitment within branches/locals, so that shop stewards and elected leaders can specialise more in key issues and improve their exper-tise.
5. Unions must do more to support shop stewards, especially through education programmes. Unless shop stewards are capacitated, the unions will not sur-vive. We should combine activism with knowledge of the law. Processes in the CCMA should be kept simple and we should oppose attempts to bring lawyers into every dispute.
6. COSATU will create a platform for union legal practitioners to share experi-ences and where possible to pool resources to realise economies of scale.
7. COSATU must review the role of benefits in the process of recruitment, assist affiliates to share experiences and develop guidelines to assist them. Possi-bilities include negotiating with employers to provide the benefits; consolidat-ing schemes to reduce the risks for each affiliate; and reviewing funding mechanisms.
8. COSATU and its affiliates must do more to educate members, including on political issues, following recruitment – otherwise we will only grow in num-bers but not in strength.
9. COSATU must work to ensure workers participate in the ANC and SACP, and to ensure that all members understand issues within and outside the work-place.
10. COSATU and unions must improve communication with members, using new technology as well as strengthening report backs from NOBs and developing internal media. We reiterate the 6th and 7th National Congress resolutions that calls for improved access of e-mail by shop stewards. In this context, we must do more to celebrate our victories and publicise them through internal and external media. This should however, not substitute the need for mass meetings and discussion with members.

4. Strengthening regional and local structures

1. Current proposals on the role of COSATU regions require more work.
2. Affiliates must ensure shop stewards attend regional shop steward councils of affiliates and COSATU, and that they report back to workers during breaks.
3. The organisational review process must evaluate regional and workplace meetings and make sure they empower shop stewards and improve service to members. Unions must provide adequate resourcing of these meetings, communication of union campaigns and decisions, and support from leader-ship.
4. Unions must improve communication about COSATU decisions to shop stew-ards, in terms of both internal media and reporting from COSATU CEC and Exco.
5. COSATU and affiliates’ regions should be more innovative and take up cam-paigns on issues affecting workers within the regions.
6. Affiliates and COSATU leaders should take play an active role in lo-cals/branches that are closer to where they reside.

5. Finances

Good budgeting and financial reporting are a key part of worker control and accountability to members, and must therefore be reliable and easily understood

1. COSATU should develop an early warning system based on basic financial indicators, so that unions it can pick up problems with financial management in advance.
2. All elected leaders should develop knowledge of financial management. COSATU will develop a handbook on financial management and ask DITSELA to set up training courses on financial management in the unions.
3. Unions should review their financial personnel to ensure that they can man-age, and not just administer, budgets. Financial management involves:
3.1. Presenting information in a form that permits elected leadership to make strategic choices
3.2. Understanding the key strategies of the union and ensuring that funds are allocated accordingly.
3.3. Identifying vulnerable areas (such as membership systems, salaries, benefits, telecommunications and travel) and instituting appropriate oversight mechanisms and controls
4. Every union must have
4.1. A clear budget linked to an annual plan, in a form that shop stewards and members can understand
4.2. A financial manual and systems to ensure all proposals to Constitutional meetings are costed beforehand, and
4.3. Reporting systems that will indicate shortfalls in income or overspending at least on a quarterly basis, and that shop stewards and members can understand.
5. NOBs must respect financial rules and justify changes in budgets to member-ship.
6. Budgets and financial reports should be discussed before adoption at all lev-els of the organisation, including branches/locals.
7. The organisational review process should increase the focus on expenditure controls, since these seem to be critical in managing fluctuations in income in the short run. COSATU should develop norms for staffing, telecommunica-tions and travel, taking into account differences between sectors.
8. The organisational review process should define the role of COSATU FIN-COM in assisting affiliates.
9. Affiliates should submit budgets, annual statements and quarterly financial reports to COSATU. COSATU should have power to intervene on behalf of the workers if serious problems are emerging.
10. COSATU should develop a framework for remuneration and benefits for office bearers, where relevant.
11. COSATU must develop processes to make payment of subscriptions more reliable, including improving reporting by shop stewards and investigating ways to make employers pay more reliably and regularly.
12. COSATU should develop a code of good practice for financial reports and accounting. Each affiliates should in addition to provisions of the LRA on fi-nances and generally acceptable accounting principles; use the Code of Good Practice developed by COSATU. In addition, a supplementary code on fiduciary duties for our representatives in provident fund boards, medical aids scheme boards and other statutory bodies should be developed.
13. COSATU should develop a Code of Conduct to regulate relations with service providers, to avoid corrupt practices.
14. To review progress and practices of our investment arms as per Congress Resolutions.

6. Support for affiliates that urgently need support

A few affiliates need urgent assistance from COSATU, and will not solve their problems without that support.

1. The word “rescue operation” is misleading and should be avoided, but COSATU must intervene in critical cases.
2. Support for affiliates that need help from COSATU must strengthen the un-ions, not replace their functions.
3. Unions must be more open about problems and needs, and not just close ranks when COSATU tries to identify issues in order to assist.
4. COSATU must:
4.1. Develop an early warning system that indicates the onset of severe fi-nancial and/or organisational problems,
4.2. Establish a stronger framework for providing assistance, and
4.3. Set up a team at regional or national level that can assist unions as re-quired.
5. Since collective leadership and unity are critical to addressing serious organisational problems and push through hard decisions, the process must involve affiliate leaders as well as COSATU NOBs. At the same time, COSATU must not overburden a few affiliate leaders.
6. COSATU must make support for farm workers and domestic workers an ur-gent task, in particular by
6.1. Supporting the organisation of farm workers by SAAPAWU and FAWU. To that extent work for the integration of SAAPAWU into FAWU
6.2. Fighting for the implementation of the minimum wage for farm and domestic workers
6.3. Fighting for improvements in the rights of farm workers and domestic workers as tenants on employers’ property


1. Proposals on demarcation in the text should be rewritten:
1.1. To define more clearly the reasons for the principle of industrial unions and to analyse how demarcation affects union strength and effective-ness. In the final analysis the reason to review demarcation of our un-ions is to build strong industrial super unions as per 7th Congress Resolutions.
1.2. To take into account the need for solidarity along supply chains so as to increase power in each industry, which requires a very different way of thinking about definition of industrial unions.

8. Building the Federation’s capacity

1. To assist COSATU in identifying affiliates’ problems in advance, COSATU of-fice bearers at national and regional level should each “adopt” affiliates, so that they work closely together, attend constitutional meetings and so on.
2. Affiliates must do more to help each other, rather than just relying on COSATU leaders and staff.
3. Affiliate leaders should attend COSATU regional and local meetings.

9. Gender

The Gender Conference must assess progress so far on gender issues and pro-pose way forward.