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Shopsteward Volume 23 No. 4

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Central Exec  |  COSATU Press Statements

Statement of the COSATU Central Executive Committee meeting

26 November 2012

The Congress of South African Trade Unions held a scheduled meeting of its Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Monday 26 November 2012, attended by its National Office Bearers and leaders of its affiliated unions and provincial structures.

The meeting discussed the following items:

1. Farm strikes

COSATU and other unions involved in the farm disputes are trying to negotiate a settlement before 4 December 2012, when the suspension of the spontaneous workers’ strike action is due to end. The workers’ mood is still of anger and frustration. The negotiations are focusing on the R150 a day demand as well as other conditions of employment.

There are engagements with organised agriculture, in the form of Agri-SA, but some farm employers are being uncooperative. Some are using private security companies and there is a danger of the situation getting out of everyone’s control.

We are also concerned that Agri-SA’s request for time to develop new wage models may be used to delay a settlement and lead to greater frustration amongst workers.

The Employment Conditions Commission is urgently considering an increase in the minimum wage under the sectoral determination for farm workers, but given the processes they are obliged to go through an increase is unlikely to be gazetted until early next year. This should not however prevent employers in the meantime from agreeing to a wage increase, since the sectoral determination sets minimum wages. There is nothing to stop employers paying more, as some already do.

There is an urgent need to reach an agreement on a new minimum wage to address workers’ demand for R150 a day before 4 December, which could be agreed as an interim measure to allow time for a comprehensive national settlement on wages and conditions for farm workers to be reached. We are working with CCMA officials to fast-track this process.

The CEC agreed that all unions must assist the Food and Allied Workers Union to recruit farm workers, less than 5% of whom are currently trade union members.

All parties must urgently implement the resolutions of the 2010 Farm Workers’ Summit. We will put more pressure on employers and government to this end. We will be seeking funding from the International Labour Organisation, via the Department of Labour to assist in a major drive towards the organisation of farm workers and implementation of their rights.

2. Vulnerable workers

The CEC agreed on urgent action to implement a National Congress Resolution to establish a Vulnerable Workers Task Team, to address various challenges facing workers in these sectors, including organisational rights, minimum wages, bargaining structures, etc.

A National Street Vendors’ Alliance is to be launched early next year with the support of COSATU to advance the interests of informal traders.

3. Mineworkers

The National Union of Mineworkers reported that there are now only two strikes taking place, at Atlatsa Resources` Bokoni platinum mine in Limpopo, and at Kumba’s Sishen mine in the Northern Cape.

The NUM has rejected the allegations being made by certain commentators that its members were responsible for the violence in Marikana by killing demonstrators outside its local office on 11 August 2012. The union will put the facts in the Commission and expose the lies being told of two people who were killed by NUM, but was advised by its legal team not to respond since the union is going to be dealing with the matter at the commission and is reserving its rights.

A number of NUM officials are still not living in their own homes for fear of attack.

Some mining companies were continuing to close down NUM offices and giving them to AMCU. Employers are illegally manipulating the switching of stop-orders for payment of union subs by simultaneously registering workers as leaving NUM and joining AMCU. The union is taking legal steps to enforce its right to see all stop orders before they are processed.

Companies, including Lonmin and Angloplats, are continuing to threaten retrenchments and the possible loss of 30 000 jobs. Centralised bargaining in the platinum sector has been put on hold. AMCU walked out of the talks.

NUM and COSATU are calling for an urgent review of the migrant labour system in the industry.

The union is looking at ways to use its financial resources to provide better benefits to members and is taking steps to ensure proper representation by all grades of workers to avoid better-paid and more articulate members disproportionately dominating leadership positions.

4. Collective Bargaining, Organising and Campaigns Conference

The CEC discussed a major organisational renewal programme to take forward the commitments made in the 11th Congress Declaration. Congress called for a mindset change in COSATU, including greater focus on the expectations of our members at the workplace; fighting for greater job protection and living wages; greater solidarity and unity in action; making leadership more visible, and interactive; and communicating more effectively with our members.

The CEC endorsed a programme of organisational renewal which aims to combat:

  • Social distance between leaders and members, by entrenching deeper forms of accountability and worker control;
  • Bureaucratisation of our structures, at affiliate or federation level, by ensuring that we remain a campaigning mobilising organisation;
  • Divisive and undemocratic conduct in our unions, which attempts to undermine worker unity, or create splinter unions.

The programme further aims to:

  • Consolidate and build strong worker-controlled unions, focused on issues of concern to our members, at the workplace, socio-economic and political levels;
  • Organise the unorganised, particularly farm workers and other vulnerable and super-exploited workers, and bring all workers under the umbrella of the Federation.

To this end, the CEC endorsed detailed plans for a programme which will culminate in a Collective Bargaining, Organising and Campaigns Conference to be held over four days in March 2013.

In the process leading up to the Conference, there will be a massive engagement with our membership base which will include the following:

  • A listening campaign and identification of key concerns through the convening of workers’ forums across the length and breadth of the country. This process has already commenced in some of our Provinces
  • A review of our organisational culture and democratic processes, including election and reporting processes
  • Reviving our COSATU shop stewards locals
  • The process of training and education with the view to reinvigorating the movement through developing a new culture amongst shop stewards, organisers, and leaders

We will also be looking at the success stories in the affiliates in terms of campaigns to address the position of vulnerable workers, promoting democratic participation, innovative collective bargaining and wage strategies, recruitment etc.

Between now and March we will be developing papers on the topics which will discussed at the Conference, The main themes which will be discussed at the conference are:-

  • Recruitment strategies and targets
  • Servicing of members
  • An assessment of our current collective bargaining strategies in relation to both wage and non-wage issues. Where wages are concerned we will prioritise the closing of wage gaps and the strategies to radically raise minimum wages.
  • Our approach to job evaluation and grading
  • Issues of social security
  • Strategies for successful strike actions, and a critique of strike laws
  • Building effective solidarity

5. COSATU Priorities for 2013

The meeting agree that the priorities for COSATU in 2013 were as follows:

Key political challenges

  1. Engineering the Lula Moment
    1. Convene and engage of the ANC and the Alliance before and after Mangaung
    2. Circulate the booklet to COSATU locals, provinces and ANC branches
    3. Submit the Section 77 notice for a radical transformation of the economy to NEDLAC
    4. Popularise and mobilise the membership behind the demands, in preparation for a series of demonstrations and strikes
    5. Identify areas that we can campaign on today to avoid the second phase of radical economic transformation from being the second phase of radical looting
    6. Engineer unity from below by mobilising the base behind the congress resolutions and increase the conscious of the working class
  2. Convene a bosberaad of the affiliates’ Presidents and General Secretaries towards the end of January 2013 to unite the unions behind the Congress resolutions
  3. Engage with the Presidential Package of measures and redirect it to be a process to take up the demands of the second phase of radical transformation
  4. Link up with communities already taking up service delivery issues and strengthen our relationships with progressive civil society including convening another major summit in all provinces in 2013
  5. Convene a meeting with students’ formations to take issues of common concern
  6. Finalise the three year programme to take forward the 2015 Plan for presentation to the CEC scheduled for February 2013
  7. Assess the progress in the implementation of the government’s 5-year priorities as part of preparing for the 2014 elections.
  8. Provinces to submit their programmes for the period between now and the end of the year including PEC, local shop stewards councils, mass meetings, etc.

Organisational Priorities

  1. Implement the COSATU 11th National Congress declaration calling for building of strong worker controlled unions including combating the following:
    • Social distance between leaders and members
    • Bureaucratisation of our structures
    • Divisive and undemocratic conduct in our unions
  2. Discuss whether the current structure of the Federation helps us drive the programmes and challenges of 2012
  3. Drive unity within the Federation and between COSATU and its allies and progressive civil society formations
  4. Implement the Congress directives on recruitment, organisational development, improving service to members
  5. Convene a COSATU National Locals Summit in April/May 2013
  6. Continue to support the NUM and SATAWU and take up the issues that farm workers are raising and connect them with FAWU. A small task team will coordinate our strategy and support for the farm workers’ struggles
  7. Support the establishment of the Second Commission of Inquiry on the conditions of mine workers and ensure support by the Chamber of Mines and government
  8. Convene mass meetings across the length and breadth of the country to listen and to brief them about the Congress resolutions and the new direction
  9. Ensure discussion and endorsement of the education framework to create a new member, new shop steward, new organiser and new leader
  10. Support the identified unions – CWU, CEPPWAWU, SADNU, PAWUSA, SASBO,
  11. Ensure a more systematic support for the unions organising vulnerable workers – FAWU, CWU, CWUSA, SATAWU, SACCAWU and SADSAWU. This support should include on what we should do concretely to support the informal sector workers, domestic workers, unemployed and young workers
  12. Improve our media work including using the social media more effectively to communicate our messages to the members and public

Socio Economic issues

  1. Convene the National Collective Bargaining, Organising and Campaigns Conference in early March 2013 to drive an incomes policy agenda. The tasks will include:
    1. Support for unions to prepare,
    2. Issuing questions for discussion by members,
    3. Further research of the Brazil and Latin American wage policies
  2. Engineer the Lula moment and fight to support the Section 77 demands for a radical transformation of the economy
  3. Drive the implementation of all the accords the federation has signed on: Basic Education, Skills Development and Training, Local Procurement and Green Economy
  4. Engage and ensure broader internal and public discussion on the current engagements with the President’s response to the current capitalist global crisis
  5. Mobilise for support of our demands for public transport system and against the Gauteng open e-tolls as well as to demand for the drastic reduction of the prices of other tollgates fees throughout the country. This will include demanding for the improvement of the roads infrastructure
  6. Oppose Eskom’s application for the 16% increase in electricity tariffs and mobilise members and society
  7. Link up with civil society formations and our people fighting for improved services and for a carrying local and national government
  8. Step up the campaign for the effective implementation of the IPAP and ensure that efforts to empower affiliates also are geared up
  9. Step up the campaign for the introduction of the comprehensive social security system including a Basic Income Grant and ensure effective implementation of the congress resolution on retirement funds and a new macroeconomic policy
  10. Step up the campaign against corruption and speak out without fear or favour consistent with COSATU successive national congresses resolutions
  11. In assessing the implementation of the 5 priorities of the elections manifesto, must develop a response and a programme to ensure speedy implementation of all these priorities
  12. In marking the 100 years of the Natives Land Act of 1913, ensure we analyse and popularise its impact and strides or lack thereof in terms of the land redistribution
  13. Ensure that Parliament approves the agreement reached with the ANC on the labour market reforms and press for the total banning of the labour brokers

International work

  1. Finalise the debate with the ITUC and WFTU on double affiliation issue
  2. Convene a summit of all the BRICS unions in South Africa in March 2013
  3. Host the SGTUR summit during the second half of 2013 in South Africa
  4. Ensure the success of the SATUCC Congress in March 2013 in Botswana
  5. Attend COSATU, NLC and Ghana TUC trilateral in Nigeria
  6. Host the General Secretary of the CTC (Cuba) during March 2013
  7. Convene a conference of COSATU/ANC and CUT/PT in Brazil
  8. Continue to campaign in solidarity with Cuba, Palestine, Swaziland, Western Sahara and Zimbabwe.
  9. Coordinate the work of the ITUC and GUFS in response to the global economic crisis in preparation for world congress of the ITUC in 2014 – Berlin
  10. Link and coordinate Province’s role in implementing solidarity campaigns

6. Political Commission Report

The CEC received a report on the ANC 53rd National Congress in Mangaung from the Political Commission, which was convened as per the instructions of the October Special CEC on positioning COSATU and preparing towards the Conference.

This included discussing the composition of the ANC NEC as a whole, and identifying comrades within our ranks who are active and fully paid up members of the ANC for nomination into the NEC. The CEC agreed that the NEC must be more representative in terms of class and quality and needs more active trade unionists and communists.

Some COSATU leaders had participated in the nomination process in their capacity as ANC members and it is emerging on the ground that contrary to media reports and pronouncements by some provinces, a majority of branches in various provinces were supporting COSATU’s and SACP’s nominated candidates.

The meeting considered the names of serving comrades in the ANC NEC and recommended the names of comrades that were to be retained on the bases of their track record and the COSATU criteria which include the following elements:

  1. A commitment to a radical NDR and thorough going transformation of society
  2. A proven commitment to the Alliance and asserting the hegemonic position of the working class as a primary motive force
  3. Commitment to the unity of the ANC, the Alliance and the democratic movement
  4. Commitment to make this decade truly a decade of workers and the poor and galvanise the progressive forces of the liberation movement and the working with progressive elements of civil society
  5. Have an anti imperialist and internationalist character
  6. Have a struggle record and are politically experienced.
  7. Good Governance and fight against corruption

It was agreed to set up a small task team to engage with the ANC on these issues.

7. Items deferred to February 2013 CEC

The following items were referred to the next scheduled CEC meeting in February 2013:

  1. Analysing and addressing our workplace challenges thrown up by the unprotected strikes
  2. Reconsidering the adequacy and relevance of COSATU structures
  3. Framework for a new COSATU Education Programme - building a new member, shop steward, organiser and leader
  4. Debating and adopting outstanding National Congress resolutions

COSATU action to stop open road tolling in Gauteng

Friday 30th November 2012

Johannesburg Action:

Gather at Newtown next to the Market Theatre from 09h00 and march to the Department of Transport, Premier’s Office and to the Department of Housing and Local Government to hand over memorandums.

Tshwane Action:

Gather at Schubert Park from 09h00 and march to the Department of Transport and to the Department of Finance to deliver memorandums.

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