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Media Centre | COSATU Press Statements
Preliminary Response to Labour Market Commission and ILO Report
COSATU Press Statement
20 June 1996
COSATU has noted the reports from the Labour Market Commission and the ILO country review. Both reports run into several hundreds of pages and need a more detailed study before a comprehensive and considered response can be given. Both reports will, together with the governments' Macro-economic Strategy, be discussed in our next Executive Committee meeting to be held in the third week of July 1996. Below are our preliminary responses to the two documents.
1. ILO Country Report
The report confirms our positions which we have been articulating over many years on a number of issues (except on two issues to be outlined later).
Some of the areas where Labour is vindicated includes the following :
1. Inequalities which are extremely high 2. Lack of non wage benefits 3. Managerial inefficiency which remains the problem 4. Lack of a social security system 5. Average working week still high in comparison with other companies, e.g. the average working week is 48-49 hours in the manufacturing sector 6. Concept of the working poor, in particular, African Women.
The areas we disagree with the findings are :
a) Unemployment We are very suspicious about the claim that the unemployment rate is somewhere around 20% and not 33% or more, as known by the South African public and proven in previous studies. We want to study the samples and methodology used and check the reliability of all this before we can believe the statistics. Certainly we have not seen any significant employment since the implementation of the RDP.
b) Shift work Naturally the Labour movement will never be happy about a recommendation that suggests that SA workers work fewer shifts in comparison with other countries. Though shift work can be used to improve productivity, it comes at a heavy price to shift workers - in particular women. These include risks of being raped, family problems, health and general violence.
2. Labour Market Commission We support the commission on the need for a Social Plan Act, Restructuring of the UIF, phasing out of migration and deferred pay system, setting of negotiated targets on affirmative action.
We have problems with the following concepts:
1. Accord: An accord means an agreement - nobody has a problem with this. However, South African workers have an extremely negative view of a "Social Accord" in the light of the Australian experience.
The packaging of this idea has been problematic since announced by Trevor Manuel on the 14.06.96. It appears that the hidden intention of this includes asking workers for a wage restraint. We hope that our suspicions are wrong and this "wage moderation" does not mean a wage restraint. If it does the authors would have discredited the whole idea of getting agreements between Labour, Business and Government on specific social and economic issues.
Above all COSATU will not attend a conference where it will be told not to continue with the fight to close the wage gap or the inequalities which are based on race and sex. We want to study this area further and the EXCO will make further pronouncements.
2. Labour Market Flexibility We are studying this concept with interest. We hope this flexibility is not the same as what is being advocated by the SA Foundations "Growth for All" document. In the meantime we have reason to suspect that though it may not be the same thing it is something close to that concept viz. deregulation and a two tier labour market system.
3. Extension of Agreements COSATU rejects and will resist any attempts to undermine the provisions of the Labour Relations Act on the question of the extension of agreements to non parties. The suggestion by the Commission and by the Minister of Finance to give more discretionary powers to the Labour Minister to extend agreements is a repudiation of the LRA deal. The parties who negotiated the LRA (including the government) found a formula that represented a working compromise. COSATU is particularly worried about a statement by the Minister of Finance saying that the parameters of the Macro Economic Strategy Document are non negotiable. Our EXCO will discuss this interesting concept.
Nowetu Mpati COSATU Head of Communications
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