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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Central Exec  |  Promos

Why workers should vote ANC

A message from the COSATU CEC to workers and their familes

Why Workers Should Vote ANC


Message from the COSATU CEC to workers and their familes

Memorandum on ANC achievements inimproving the rights and protectionsof South Africa's workers and Opposition parties' attempts to blockimprovements for workers

  1. Summary of key labour legislation since 1994 and opposition by other parties
  2. Other gains for workers over the last 5 years
  3. The long journey for fundamental transformation is gaining momentum
  4. Let us for a moment look at other political parties that are asking you to vote for them
  5. Together with the ANC - Fighting for change

Vote ANC for Peace Freedom and Democracy

Dear trade union member, fellow worker and your family

You may be asking, as we head towards our second democratic election on 2 June 1999, which party should you, as a worker vote for. In the heat of the elections many parties will be making various claims and statements which often confuse, rather than focussing on the real issues. As the COSATU Executive, we have carefully considered the role played by various parties and, most importantly for us, their approach to matters of concern to workers. Below we set out our analysis of the issues which workers should consider when they cast their vote on June 2, in particular considering the track record of the different parties over the last five years.

In all elections that take place in the middle of a difficult transitional period, it is easy for people to forget what is at stake. It is easy for workers to forget that they have particular interests, which cannot be served by all political parties, regardless of what they say in the run up to an election. This is complicated in South Africa by our apartheid history. Years of segregation and systematic brainwashing have entrenched deep racial divisions and perceptions in the minds of workers. It is easy therefore for workers - as victims of these past practices - to forget the big picture and to instead be consumed by these perceptions.

Elsewhere in the world, societies that scored victories over dictatorial and oppressive regimes have sometimes allowed those very same oppressors - often under new names - to return to power in the very first round of elections following the democratic victories, or to allow anti-worker forces to destabilise their democratic transformation. Workers in Nicaragua, Chile and Britain (under Margaret Thatcher) know the bitter pain of replacing parties that are sympathetic to workers with those whose agenda is the systematic undermining and violation of worker rights. Ask workers in Germany and Australia about their life under conservative governments or why they back Social Democratic and Labour Parties respectively during elections as opposed to the rest of other parties. Their rights were systematically taken away under the guise of a "flexible labour market" which they were promised would create jobs. In reality, those claiming to be concerned about job creation in these countries implemented anti-worker policies, which saw attacks on unions, removal of basic protections, rising inequality, and growing poverty amongst working people.

Informed by some of these historic experiences, COSATU’s past two National Congresses called on all workers - inside and outside of our ranks - to vote the ANC into power in 1994 and return it with an overwhelming majority in the 2nd June 1999 elections.

Some from inside and outside of our ranks have questioned us on why workers must vote ANC. Some feel that we are being insensitive to the fact that in COSATU there are also workers who do not belong to or support the ANC.

As the COSATU leadership, we know that while the overwhelming majority of our members belong to and support the ANC, some of our members - albeit a minority - belong to some of the following parties: IFP, NNP, DP, PAC, AZAPO, FF and UDM. These COSATU members remain welcome in the federation and its affiliates. As a trade union movement, we are a home for all workers irrespective of political affiliation. Our main agenda is to unite all workers so that they can primarily and collectively improve their wages, working conditions and defend their jobs. At the same time, we do however want to ensure a successful transformation of our country.

Since its inception in 1 December 1985, COSATU recognised that to effectively fight and win many issues that were workplace-related, it had to forge alliances with other democratic forces which were fighting for democratisation in all spheres of our society, including the workplace. We accepted the fact that the source of South Africa’s exploitative and discriminatory laws and practices was the apartheid regime - supported by big business.

Thus COSATU decided to enter into alliances with progressive forces with a track record, and a mass following amongst the people, in order to end the exploitative and oppressive apartheid system. Based on these criteria, we combined forces with the UDF (internally) and the ANC / SACP / SACTU Alliance in exile. Soon after the unbanning of political organisations, we entered into a formal alliance with the ANC and the SACP. It is a fact accepted by the overwhelming majority in our country that it was these organisations together with all those committed to eradication of racial oppression and exploitation that delivered the lethal blow to apartheid.

The 1994 elections were largely about the realisation of our dream to rid South Africa of apartheid - a system that was declared a "crime against humanity" by the United Nations. It was about winning a type of freedom that will make a real difference to the lives of ordinary workers and the poor. The Reconstruction and Development Programme represents that vision. Based on this programme, and the commitment to radically transform our country in all spheres of life, we called on all workers and their families to vote for the ANC. It is common cause that you responded positively to this call, giving the ANC an overwhelming majority nationally as well as winning seven of the nine provincial legislatures. The challenge we face is to return the ANC with an overwhelming majority nationally, coupled with majorities in all nine provinces. Workers in the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal expect nothing less than a decisive victory by the ANC in these provinces.

The ANC 1999 elections Manifesto, which all workers should read, takes this vision another step forward. The ANC Manifesto recognises that while important advances have been made over the last five years, much more needs to be done, particularly to improve the lives of the working people, the unemployed and the poor. The ANC strongly reasserts the RDP as the basis of government policy, and undertakes to elaborate a detailed programme with its allies for implementation of the policies contained in the Manifesto over the next five years. While it is not possible to summarise all the details of the ANC Manifesto here, below we outline some of the commitments made in the Manifesto which are most important to workers:

The ANC Manifesto proposes specific measures to speed up delivery of affordable public housing, health, transport, social security, education, and other services, in both rural and urban areas.

The Manifesto commits the ANC government to consolidate and implement the worker rights contained in the Constitution and the new labour legislation; and to align all government policies and programmes to achieve the objective of jobs for all at a living wage. The Manifesto focuses both on improving the quality of existing jobs (including protecting the most vulnerable, such as farm and domestic workers); as well as stemming retrenchments and creating new employment.

On employment security and employment creation, the Manifesto undertakes to introduce legislation to make retrenchments more difficult, and to implement the agreements of the Presidential Jobs Summit aimed at creating new jobs. In particular, it highlights the need for sectoral summits, involving workers and business, to look at strategies to create jobs in each sector of our economy; measures to support labour intensive investment; mass public works programmes and youth brigades; tax, procurement, and monetary policies to promote employment; increasing investment in training and retraining of workers; regional industrial strategies, particularly for the poorer areas; and supporting development of co-operatives and opportunities for self-employment.

On macro-economic policy, the ANC undertakes to:

  • reduce the tax burden on middle-income families, workers and the poor, abolish tax on certain basic goods, and use tax to encourage productive investment;

  • invest more in social spending and economic infrastructure;

  • regulate the financial sector to ensure greater access to affordable finance;

  • bring down the level of interest rates, ensure that monetary policies (the policies of the Reserve Bank) are aligned with development, and discourage financial speculation;

  • promote investment by the public sector and channel private sector investment into employment creation.

The Manifesto proposes a comprehensive programme to fight crime and corruption on all fronts.

The Manifesto undertakes to speed up measures to transform the public sector, including local government, with the main focus being its reorientation to meet the objectives of service delivery, and to make it accountable to the people it serves.

Finally, on the international front, the Manifesto undertakes to promote worker rights in South Africa’s trade and investment relations with the Region, as well other parts of the world; to campaign for the restructuring of the international trade and financial regime; and to campaign for reducing the debt burden on the poorest countries.

What do the opposition parties say to workers? All opposition parties including the UDM, IFP, NNP and DP plan to deregulate the labour market or create a "flexible labour market" as outlined in their manifestos. What does this mean in simple terms? It means these parties want to take South Africa back to an era where pregnant women had to lie about their pregnancies for fear of being fired because they were not protected; where employers can easily bash unions; and to an era of cheap labour where workers are paid a pittance rather than a living wage. It means ordinary workers get blamed for causing the unemployment crisis rather than the real cause ‘investment strike’ by business. Their calls for a "flexible labour market’’ fly in the face of studies by among others the ILO that indicate that the labour market in certain respects is too flexible. It is apparent that if these parties were to come to power they would roll back all the workers rights gained through decades of struggle contained in amongst others the Constitution and the LRA. Further, these parties want to maintain the current huge income inequality but blame ordinary workers when they demand a living wage. This we can not allow.

As we prepare for the 2nd June 1999 election, we are again making a call to workers and their families to vote ANC. Only the ANC has the interest of workers and the poor at heart. Only the ANC has a vision to continue changing our country away from the apartheid legacy. Of all political parties only the ANC fought, in the face of hard opposition in parliament, for the advancement and protection of workers rights. Only the ANC has an unquestionable track record of being a reliable ally of workers since its inception in 1912. Whatever apartheid apologists have to say, it is a fact that the struggle for liberation in our country was led by the ANC and its alliance partners.

The memorandum below attempts to explain the bigger picture. It is informing you of the changes that have been brought about by the ANC government, including the positions that were taken by the opposition parties that are now asking you to vote for them. It brings to your attention the gains that you will lose if any of those parties were to win the coming 2nd June 1999 elections, or if the ANC’s majority were to be dramatically reduced. These gains belong to all workers - black and white - regardless of political affiliation, and will be lost to all workers - black and white, irrespective of which party you support.

Some workers may feel that an ANC victory is inevitable, and therefore, it may not be that important to vote. This would be a serious error. It is not only an ANC defeat, which would pose a serious threat to what workers have achieved. The larger the coalition of anti-worker, anti-ANC parties (including the possibility of some of them governing in particular provinces) the greater will be the pressure to roll back and frustrate worker-friendly policies. Therefore, it is absolutely important for workers that the ANC achieve a decisive and overwhelming mandate on June 2 to take these policies forward.

We are convinced that after you have read this, shared it with your family and friends, you will realise what you stand to lose if you blindly follow passionate love of a party, regardless of its track record. No party other than the ANC will help advance your rights as a worker. A vote for the ANC should not be seen as a vote against your political party, but a vote for continued transformation of the workplace, advancement of worker rights and for the defence, consolidation and advancement of social transformation.

Your future is in your hands.

Do not destroy it!

Protect it!

Yours truly

John Gomomo - President

Mbhazima Shilowa - General Secretary

On behalf of the COSATU Central Executive Committee

Memorandum on ANC achievements in
improving the rights and protections
of South Africa’s workers


Opposition parties’ attempts to block
improvements for workers

Give Real Wage Increases to All Workers

  1. Summary of key labour legislation since 1994 and opposition by other parties
  2. Constitution

    Key Areas of improvement

    Views of opposition parties

    The ANC has ensured that for the first time workers enjoy the following constitutional guarantees:

    • the right to fair labour practices,

    • the right to form and join trade unions, strike and picket.

    • the right to conclude union security agreements such as closed and agency shop;

    • the right to collective bargaining

    • the ANC-led Alliance blocked the inclusion of a lock out clause in the Constitution.

    Further, the constitution also contains other rights that are important to workers, for instance, the right to water, housing and other socio economic rights, the right to access information, accountability of public enterprises and procurement policy for social objectives

    The National Party (NP) and Democratic Party (DP) fought very hard to exclude the right to strike from the Constitution in the Constitutional Assembly and the Constitutional court. Instead of fighting for worker rights, they argued strongly in favour of the right of employers to lock workers out in order to weaken the position of workers in collective bargaining. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), in its document prepared for discussions with the ANC, raises as one of its four key demands, the need to significantly reduce the power of workers and their trade unions in the constitution.

    Labour Relations Act

    Key Areas of improvement

    Views of opposition parties

    The Labour Relations Act passed by government in 1995 benefits workers in that it:

    • strengthens the organisational rights of workers and their trade unions and protects workers in legal strikes;

    • promotes centralised bargaining and therefore unity of workers into powerful industrial unions

    • covers all workers including historically excluded public service workers, farm and domestic workers;

    • curtails arbitrary action by employers. The CCMA has had a 65% success in resolving disputes.

    • gives the federation a right to take up socio economic strikes during which workers can not be disciplined for their participation.

    • gives workers a right to take solidarity action

    In 1995, President Mandela joined workers in a march against BSA in support of a 'worker-friendly' LRA. The new law's basic aims to promote workplace fairness, workplace democratisation, labour peace and economic development are in the process of being achieved.

    Despite the fact that government, business and labour broadly agreed on the LRA, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), through its leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, announced an "outright rejection" of the new LRA in a statement made in Pretoria on 26 July 1995. In particular the IFP would have preferred to follow the divisive and potentially disastrous route of "federalising labour legislation" and would prefer to weaken trade unions and limit government intervention in the economy.

    The DP, in its 'Economic Liberation' manifesto, (1997) has proposed that only employees who have had a job for over one year (or two years in the case of part-time employees) should be protected from unfair dismissal. The proposal creates an incentive for employers to ill-treat and dismiss employees in the first year of service, and takes away workers constitutional right to fair labour practices.

    The NP reluctantly supported the Act with reservation. They felt that the LRA is making the labour market more rigid and this will result in job losses. Job loss was used as a swan song by the opposition to challenge and oppose all labour legislation. To date, no evidence has been provided by these parties that job losses were the result of labour legislation

    Basic Conditions of Employment Act

    Key Areas of improvement

    Views of opposition parties

    This Act came into effect as a whole in December 1998. This Act is set to radically improve the working conditions of millions of South African workers in particular the vulnerable workers such as farm and domestic workers who don't have strong unions to protect their rights:

    • for the first time domestic and farm-workers are covered by the provisions of this Act.

    • child labour (of children under 15) and forced labour are prohibited.

    • those working overtime receive increased overtime pay of 'time and a half' rather than 'time and a third';

    • annual leave is increased to 21 days with increased family responsibility leave;

    • ordinary working hours are reduced to a 45 hours a week with the objective of a further reduction to a 40 hour week (this is very significant for security and domestic workers who now work up to 60 hour per week);

    • four months maternity leave is guaranteed and mechanisms are being put in place to ensure that those who contribute to the UIF will receive some level of payment during the period of their maternity leave; and in order to bring greater certainty and empowerment all workers will have the right to written particulars of employment.

    • notice of termination of employment has increased to four weeks if the worker has been employed for one year or in the case of the domestic and or farm worker who has been employed for four weeks.

    • workers have now a right to severance pay of one week per completed year of service

    • the Employment Conditions Commission is set up to advise the Minister on determination of minimum wages for particularly the vulnerable workers.

    The NNP did not support the BCEA because it "incrementally over-regulates the labour market." In particular the NNP does not support the 40 hour week and increased overtime pay. In their view, the reduction of working hours will increase labour costs.

    Velaphi Ndlovu, during the debate in parliament argued that the BCEA will "force automation and discourage labour-intensive investment." Further, the BCEA "creates additional rigidity in the labour market."

    The DP, during the Parliamentary process of 1997, proposed amendments to the Act which would have weakened worker protections and weakened the mechanisms to enforce the new law - for example the DP proposed that workers should be able to waive most of their rights under the new law.

    The DP also pushed for reduced fines for employers who fail to implement the terms of the BCEA and suggested that Department of Labour inspectors should only be allowed to inspect a work place after the employer has got legal representation. These proposals make a mockery of the enforcement of basic employment conditions.

    Employment Equity Act

    Key Areas of improvement

    Views of opposition parties

    This Act which was passed in 1998 promotes the constitutional right to equality which explicitly calls for measures to redress past imbalances. It further:

    • encourages designated employers to implement affirmative action measures for people from designated groups.

    • creates a framework to address the huge income inequality prevalent in our society.

    • prohibits unfair discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation etc.

    • will benefit black people (Africans, Coloureds & Indians), all women and people with disabilities.

    • the Act is essentially self-regulatory - employers in consultation with workers should develop an audit of the workforce, and on the basis of this audit develop plans to address employment inequity.

    Despite claims by the opposition parties, nowhere does the Act call for the retrenchment of white men and their replacement by black people and women. The Act affirms the need for an inclusive process to design and implement employment equity plans. The attempt to equate the Act with the Population Registration Act should be seen for what it is - a scare tactic designed to fan the emotions of white men against change. The Act uses race and gender to correct the imbalances of the past, whereas the Population Registration Act was one of the cornerstones of apartheid legislation.

    History has shown that we cannot rely on the market to correct past imbalances, as it is the same market that perpetuates inequality in the workplace. Therefore, there is a need for conscious programmes designed to correct past imbalances, as these will not disappear of their own accord. Employment Equity must be seen as part of a broader programme for skills development, workplace reorganisation and transformation of the education and training system.

    The NP rejected the Act on the grounds that it constitutes apartheid in reverse.

    In its election manifesto, the NNP promises to scrap the Employment Equity Act and revise other labour laws.

    The Freedom Front also undertakes to scrap the Employment Equity Act in its manifesto. During the debate in parliament P J Groenewald equated the Employment Equity Act with the Population Registration Act and believes that the Act will "discriminate against white men."

    The UDM in its election manifesto claims to support employment equity if it is "implemented in a responsible manner." However, they fail to explain what they mean by "responsible manner"

    The DP rejected the Act on the grounds that it is tantamount to "re-racialising society"; i.e. it is apartheid in reverse. It claims the Act is similar to the previous job reservation under apartheid.

    While the IFP did not oppose its passage in parliament, Ben Ngubane, the former Premier of KwaZulu Natal Province, called for rejection since it was "apartheid in reverse"

    Skills Development Act

    Key Areas of improvement

    Views of opposition parties

    The Act links skill formation to the requirements of a growing economy and extends education and training to people both within and outside formal employment. It is primarily concerned with industry-based training, improving the intermediate level skills base of the country and labour market training for target groups (including the unemployed, retrenched workers, youth, women, people with disabilities and people in rural areas).

    The Skills Development Strategy makes provision for a new system of learning, referred to as learnerships, for young and unemployed people wishing to join the labour market. Learnerships combine structured learning and work experience and culminate in nationally recognised qualifications, which signify job readiness.

    The core strategy is to create an enabling environment for expanded strategic investment in skills development. Employers will eventually contribute a levy of 1% of payroll towards skills development.

    A National Skills Fund will be established to finance national priorities as defined in the national skill development strategy.

    Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) will be established, to combine the functions of industry training boards and education and training quality assurance. Among other functions, a SETA will develop a sector skills plan within the framework of the national skills development strategy. This will ensure that education and training is tailored to the needs and requirements of the sector.

    The DP rejected this Act on the following grounds:

    government should support private sector initiatives by removing regulations on the private supply of training. The option of vouchers and tax credits should be investigated as possible alternatives to the proposed payroll levy.

    The DP's position amounts to raiding the fiscus to support education and training in the private sector, while no obligation is placed on the private sector to invest in education & training. This laissez-faire approach ignores the fact that there is currently a negligible investment in training and education by the private sector.

    Although the opposition parties were forced to support the bill when it was passed in parliament, the NP and DP in particular were opposed to the imposition of a levy to fund skills development.

    Health and Safety

    Key Areas of improvement

    Views of opposition parties

    A number of important initiatives were piloted by the ANC government, which will benefit workers and improve health and safety standards:

    • the creation of the National Occupational Health and Safety Council resolved the fragmented governance of occupational health and safety in South Africa;

    • occupational health was added to the scope of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA). Occupational health is included in national health policy, thus making it one of the services available in clinics. This recognises the fact that accidents are not the only hazard faced by workers;

    • the LRA gives trade unions representatives the right to monitor an employer's compliance with legislation concerning terms and conditions of employment including health and safety and compensation laws;

    • the BCEA emphasises the close connection between conditions of employment, hours of work and the promotion of health and safety. The regulation of night work and reduction of working hours will improve workers' health status;

    • HIV testing is prohibited by the Employment Equity Act;

    • the introduction of Social Health Insurance will go a long way in improving the public health system and have a positive effect on workers' health;

    • the amendments passed in 1997 on COIDA have a number of benefits for workers:

      • the number of dependants of workers who die due to work place accidents and diseases now have an extended right to compensation beyond the age of 18 years;

      • and workers have a full right to claim compensation for any disease arising out of the course and scope of their employment as compensation will not be limited to diseases resulting from exposure to substances at the workplace or due to workplace practices.

      However a number of recommendations are still outstanding including the extension of the compensation system to cover domestic workers and the compensation of workers excluded by previous racist legislation. These can only be realised if the ANC is returned to< power.

    The opposition parties vociferously opposed most of the labour legislation such as the Employment Equity, the LRA and the BCEA, with the exception of COIDA. It is evident therefore that by opposing these pieces of legislation they were also condemning workers to work under unsafe and unhealthy working environments.

    Mine Health and Safety Act

    Key Areas of improvement

    Views of opposition parties

    • This act acknowledges that, unlike previously, workers' health is a very important matter.

    • It sets up strong tripartite structures.

    • Mine workers have now a right to refuse to do dangerous work.

    • It puts the union in a strong bargaining position in terms of health and safety agreements.

    • It gives workers a right to know, act and to participate.

    • The nature of inspectors has been changed - they are now more responsive

    Although the Act was broadly supported, opposition parties, in particular the National Party opposed the onus being on the employer in criminal cases.

    National Environmental Management Act


    Key Areas of improvement


    This act gives workers the right to refuse work that can harm the environment.

  3. Other gains for workers over the last 5 years
  4. In addition to the above important pieces of labour legislation the ANC government has taken steps with the view of strengthening the voice of workers in society, and introduced measures to improve the lives of workers and their families. These include:

    1. Socio Economic Gains
    2. Significant progress has been achieved in the struggle to improve the life of working people and the poor. So far the ANC government has:

      • brought water to 3 million people

      • housed nearly 3 million people

      • connected 2 million households to electricity

      • improved health-care for the poor by building and upgrading over 500 clinics and providing free medical care to children and pregnant women

      • transferred land with 68 000 households benefiting

      • established non-racial education; built 10 000 class rooms; fed 5 million school children; reduced the pupil- to-teacher ratio from 40:1 to 34:1; and increased enrolment of students by 1,5 million

      This delivery of basic needs has not only benefited people in the urban areas. Millions of people in the rural areas have for the first time had access to basic amenities. Farm workers have benefited in terms of services, and have begun to use their rights, which have now been extended to them in terms of the labour legislation, and the Security of Tenure Act.

      Despite COSATU’s well recorded criticism of the inability of the Government’s macro-economic policy (GEAR) to stem the scourge of unemployment and to deal with retrenchments and factory closures which has resulted in job losses; despite our unhappiness about the level of crime and corruption in government, private sector and society in general, this ANC government has delivered on many fronts and in some cases gone beyond our expectations. Contrary to the assertions of the opposition, we are aware that job loss has also been caused in part by the "investment strike" in the private sector, something they have been doing for over a decade.

      We welcome the fact that the ANC, through the Minister of Labour Membathisi Shepherd Mdladlana, has now indicated that government will amend Section 189 of the LRA in order to make retrenchment a mandatory negotiations matter instead of an information and consultation matter. This has been a demand of COSATU for a year now.

      The Minister of Labour has further stated that the government will introduce a minimum wage for domestic and farm workers. This recognises that vulnerable workers are without strong unions that are capable of winning or launching a powerful living wage campaign or sustainable strike action. This too has been a demand of COSATU for many years.

    3. Jobs Summit
    4. An important breakthrough was reached at the Presidential Job Summit in October last year, at which agreements were reached taking on board many of the demands of the trade union movement. These include:

      • measures to build our industries including promotion of locally produced goods, review of the effect of tariff measures on employment, measures to stop import of illegal goods, and summits in all sectors of our economy to look at strategies for employment creation;

      • the establishment of a framework for restructuring the public sector on the basis of the development needs of the country, rather than an ideological commitment to downsizing. In terms of this agreement, a framework will be negotiated between labour and government;

      • the establishment of a public rental housing programme;

      • agreements to implement various proposals to stem retrenchments, and to initiate a social plan to assist workers where particular sectors are facing a crisis;

      • an agreement on expanding resources available for education and training;

      • an agreement to investigate the setting up of a comprehensive social security system, including labour’s proposal for a basic income grant;

      • special programmes aimed at unemployed youth, women, and people with disabilities, including youth brigades, and mass public work programmes, involving labour based construction methods;

      • regional programmes aimed at the development of economically depressed areas of the country;

      • various measures aimed at channeling finance into employment-creating, productive investment;

      • agreement that the fiscal, monetary and other macro- economic policies of the country need to be aligned with the objectives of development and employment creation.

      All these agreements have been incorporated into the ANC manifesto.

    5. Public Sector transformation
    6. Despite some disagreements between unions and government on public sector restructuring, there have also been important gains for workers in the public sector. The racial and oppressive hierarchies of the apartheid public service have been totally reorganised, with the reduction of the more than 300 grades into about 14 broad bands. The public sector has also led the country in the reduction of the apartheid wage gap, with dramatic reorganisation of the wage structure and major improvements in the position of low-paid workers.

      Government has also resisted the calls of opposition parties, big business and various international forces, for the wholesale privatisation of public enterprises. While some differences remain between labour and government on this issue, there are also many areas of agreement, including the view that basic public services need to remain under the control of the state, and that new public corporations should be considered, where appropriate. The operation of the National Framework Agreement, regardless of its flaws, has been a far preferable situation to that in many countries where governments unilaterally dispose of public assets, virtually without any limits being placed on this process.

    7. Increased Control of Pension / Provident Funds by Workers
    8. Legislation requiring workers to make up at least 50% of the Pension and Provident Fund boards has been passed by the democratic parliament. This will allow workers to have greater control over their savings. Only a few years ago, workers had no control whatsoever over this as management constituted the board on its own and used these savings to invest in glass buildings in the city or town whilst ignoring the need to invest in job creation and in our townships and rural areas. Proposals from the industry for employers to have access to surpluses from workers funds have been blocked, thus far.

    9. Insolvency Act
    10. Amendments have been made to the Insolvency Act to ensure that in the event of bankruptcies, preference is given to workers, to ensure that monies owed to them takes precedence over the claims of other creditors. This Act came into effect at the end of last year.

    11. Public Holidays
    12. Today South African workers enjoy twelve holidays which includes the historic days such as March 21, June 16, August 9 and May Day. The majority of South African workers struggled for years to get these days recognised as paid public holidays.

      Most of the opposition parties have complained that there are too many public holidays in South Africa. It goes without saying that should the ANC lose in the coming elections, one of the casualties will be these twelve public holidays.

    13. NEDLAC
    14. Through an Act of Parliament passed in 1995, the National Economic, Development and Labour Council - NEDLAC - was formed. This is an institution that allows the participation of labour, business and community organisations in social and economic policy matters. In the past few years NEDLAC has discussed and reached consensus on many pieces of legislation before they are sent to parliament, including the labour legislation outlined above. This is an extremely important institution for workers. Not all countries of the world have an institution that gives workers and communities say over policy matters. Even in the case where similar institutions to NEDLAC exist they do not have the same power as NEDLAC has. It is only in South Africa that, through an Act of Parliament, an institution has been created forcing government to consult on socio economic matters - in particular on the labour market. In most countries, workers cannot influence the policies of government.

      A new style of governance has thus been introduced in South Africa. This emphasises effective participation by important role players in policy formation and process of governance. This is unlike many democracies where governments believe that once elected they have a right to determine everything in the society without participation or consultation. Labour, for example, together with business formed part of the panel that employed the senior staffers of the Department of Labour, including the Director General and the two Deputy Generals.

      COSATU is convinced that if any of the opposition parties can win power in the 2nd June 1999, or any future election, one of the first casualties of this change can be either the demolishing or scaling down of the powers and role of the NEDLAC.

      A vote for the ANC is also about the defence of workers right to influence government policy.

    15. DITSELA
    16. This is a training institution established in 1996 following discussions between FEDUSA and COSATU with the Department of Labour. Its programme includes training of shop stewards, union officials and leaders on a range of issues. Thus far:

      • during the past two years 1 483 unionists have participated in DITSELA.

      • 632 unionists have been trained on the new Labour Relations Act

      • 25 women worker leaders have been trained on implementing union programmes for education and training of union women.

      • work has been completed on course delivery and the development of new educational courses and materials.

      DITSELA was launched with a grant from the Department of Labour. The Department of Labour Strengthening of Civil Society Fund remains the core funding mechanism of this important institution.

      There can be no doubt that if the ANC were to lose the elections, DITSELA would be closed down, as its main reason for existence is to increase the power of trade unions and to improve the lot of workers.

  5. The long journey for fundamental transformation is gaining momentum
  6. From the above, it is clear that the changes made thus far, represent a fundamental transformation. Despite all these monumental changes to improve our lives, there are some who claim that there have been no changes. Some even claim that it was better under apartheid. This is similar to those who despite having been liberated from slavery in Egypt, later claimed that it was better under Pharaoh. These people forget that a few years ago they would have been arrested as blacks if they were found in town after a certain time. Others make these claims from flats rented from the middle of cities, where they would have been arrested in the recent past. They say these things whilst swimming or using amenities that they would be arrested for using only ten years ago.

    The question workers should ask themselves is - do you believe that any other political organisation will deliver better or more than the ANC has done in the last five years?

    We are convinced that, based on their own actions and statements, both in and out of government, none of the current opposition parties are capable of matching or improving this ANC record. Don't be fooled by their smooth talk.

  7. Let us for a moment look at other political parties that are asking you to vote for them
    1. Pan Africanist Congress of Azania - PAC
    2. The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania can at best be characterised as an inconsistent and directionless organisation. Today they will take a progressive stance and the next day they will take unbelievably rightwing and populist positions. Despite its rhetoric on socialism the PAC has taken reactionary and sometimes-barbaric stances on many challenges facing our country. Below are two examples why workers cannot afford to place their future in the hands of the PAC:

      In an interview carried out by the Sowetan of the 31 July 1997 - an article written by Rafiq Rohan - the President of the PAC Dr. Stanley Mogoba shamelessly launched a severe attack on workers. Below are some of the things he said as contained in the article titled: PAC can rid SA of crime

      "And the most controversial is to get workers more productive and the way of doing this might be to do away with the trade union movement. His suggestion implies that unions in a democracy make workers lazy.

      Mogoba's proposal on the economy for instance is based on what he describes as his "illiberal" premise that "most South Africans are not hard workers".

      Mogoba recommends that South Africans should look to countries he visited like Singapore and Malaysia to develop their own work ethics.

      "Those two countries were worse than South Africa, are smaller than South Africa and their resources were much less" he points out. He adds that while he criticises Singapore for not being democratic he had to praise its work ethics. "It is ironic that a country that is not democratic like Singapore is most progressive. One of the things it has done is to get a better ethic of work," he says.

      Mogoba said it was appropriate that South Africa "may need a covenant of hard work". "Lets try for three years to suspend trade unionism and let the government take over and actually supervise the employers" he says.

      On crime, like on the issue of job creation he has some pretty strong views. In this case many will agree with him when he says it has spiraled out of control and that drastic measurers are necessary.

      If he was the government he said he would bring in the army. "We would descend upon criminals in the shortest time possible. We would use the army". "My view is that SA is nearing an emergency situation and if we do not use the army now, we are likely to go into a military dictatorship" Explaining this, he said the President would have to suspend all liberties as was done in other countries, to stop the deteriorating situation from developing into chaos. "

      As if this was not enough the PAC President went further in another interview this year (1999) to propose that those who commit crime should have their limbs cut off. So this will mean we will have a number of people without heads, legs, stomachs, tongues, arms etc. The answer to crime is not to chop off limbs or capital punishment, but to deal with the causes of crime as well as to transform the law enforcement agencies.

      Now which worker in his or her right senses can vote for a party that proposes that workers rights should be suspended for three years?

    3. United Democratic Movement - UDM
    4. The UDM has said very little on policy issues. We do not know what its economic, social, labour market or environmental policies are. Honestly this is because the UDM has no such policies. Their policy number one is to criticise the ANC government without offering any alternative. However a careful reading of some of their speeches show that their stand is the same as the NP and DP.

      We can only judge the UDM through its history and the history of its leadership. When COSATU leaders and members were persecuted, detained without trial, forced into exile, killed and harassed, both the President and Deputy President of this party lived in luxury and worked for institutions created by apartheid. The former, Bantu Holomisa, was a bantustan soldier trained by the notorious SADF, and later a military bantustan leader. And the latter, Roelf Meyer, was at the time a SADF minister - incidentally at the height of the so-called "black on black" violence. While we accept that times have changed and that loyalties can change too, we are not convinced that the UDM's leadership should be trusted with the running of our country. Over time, they are more likely to merge with the DP, NP or both. Joining this pair has been a string of disgruntled people mainly from the NP.

      COSATU believes that the UDM is a representative of the aspirations of those who benefited from the old order and is likely to roll back our gains.

    5. Inkatha Freedom Party - IFP
    6. The IFP has been opposed to COSATU since our inception in 1985. Together with the South African Police, they formed UWUSA to oppose COSATU. It is history that this venture has failed dismally.

      Having won the elections - a fact challenged by many in KwaZulu Natal - they have failed to bring about meaningful changes in the province. They pushed through a constitution that contained many anti- worker clauses. While this was not certified by the constitutional court, their position remains one of support for deregulation of the labour market, weakening of the trade unions, opposition to collective bargaining, minimum wages even for the most vulnerable workers.

      While their manifesto is silent on all of the above, as far as we know, their stance has not changed. Furthermore, their stance on worker rights legislation in parliament has been either that of public opposition or silent opposition.

    7. New National Party - NNP
    8. The NP introduced the policy of apartheid, persecuted most of our leadership, bombed our offices, ordered the killings of most of our activists and denied our rights as workers.

      In a response to the COSATU General Secretary (interview on Radio 702, 1999-04-07) Martinus "Kortbroek" Van Schalkwyk confirmed that if they were elected as government, they would take away the constitutionally entrenched right to strike, introduce their right to lock - out, scrap the Employment Equity Act, deregulate the labour market, reduce the period for maternity leave etc.

      The NP's record in the Western Cape - where it is in government with the DP and the ACDP, has been one of defending privileges for whites, while denying these to blacks in the province. They have failed to stem crime and violence in the Cape Flats and the township.

      It is our view that given a chance, they would reintroduce most of their apartheid legislation on the shopfloor.

  8. Together with the ANC - Fighting for change
  9. There are countless other political parties who have registered and will contest the coming elections. None of these are capable of winning elections, none of them have a plan better than the RDP, and none of them can be trusted with the future of workers.

    Only the ANC has a clear track record in the struggle for the liberation of the majority from the yoke of apartheid oppression; only the ANC has begun to change the lives of the poor. Only the ANC and its allies has a detailed plan - the RDP - to change our lives for the better.

    Together let us join hands with the ANC to continue with the fight for a better life for all!

    Together let us cast our votes for the African National Congress on 2 June 1999!

    Together, Fighting for Change  -  a Better Life for All