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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements


Issued by: COSATU

28 September, 1995

The COSATU CEC held its bi-annual meeting from 25-27 September 1995. The meeting took place against the background of the conclusion of the negotiations on the LRA, continued violence in Kwazulu-Natal, the attempt by the Nats and their surrogates the PAC, IFP, DP, FF and the ACDP to stall transformation in our country. The CEC also took stock of our activities since the beginning of the year, looked at key challenges and adopted a programme for 1996. The acceptance of POPCRU and the IPS into COSATU also bolstered our membership to just below 1,6 million paid-up members. With our recruitment campaign on track, there is no reason why we cannot reach 2 million by March next year.

  • Investments

The meeting reiterated the need for COSATU to help redirect investments away from speculative and wastage, to areas that are critical for the implementation of the RDP and improvement on the lives of our people. Taking into account the escalating cost of the administration fees paid to Insurance Houses, we have put in motion the process of establishing a company to take over the administration of pensions and provident funds.

  • Building Organisation

We have recommitted ourselves to building trade union unity. This will be in the form of a moratorium on any poaching within the federation, revive the talks for unity with NACTU and FEDSAL and engage in a massive recruitment campaign. In this regard, we will be approaching a number of unaffiliated unions, including the nurses, to start up the process.

The unions that are involved in merger processes have recommitted themselves to the process. The Public Sector one will go ahead early next year, while the transport one should be finalised by the middle of next year.

We will be starting before the end of the year on preparations for our Living Wage Campaign as well as prepare for May Day next year. This will culminate in a Policy Conference in April next year. This will help with co-ordination on core demands, such as the closing of the apartheid wage gap, education and training, grading, etc.

We will contnue with our programme to empower women to effectively participate in all spheres of life. We also agreed to continue with an awareness campaign on the importance of our position against sexual harassment, as well as our pro-choice abortion stance.

With regards to violence, the meeting condemned the ongoing violence in Kwazulu-Natal, in the Sebokeng Hostel and in the Taxi industry. The meeting supported the government's position on stopping the flow of illegal weapons, requiring those with G3's and other weapons from the previous regime, to hand them back or face arrest or prosecution.

We however believe that more could be done. The police and McNally must deal, without mercy, with warlords, irrespective of their political persuasion. We will also be approaching the alliance on the need to establish effective co-ordination at a political level.

  • Social and Economic Issues

As stated early this year, we will be holding a conference on Health, Safety and the Environment in October this year. We will also be commemorating Kinross Day on October 1. The NUM have been asked to co-ordinate these activities. The death of 5 miners in Tuesday's underground methane explosion is also a worrying factor. It is a further demonstration of how management refuse to learn from past experiences. Workers were simply told to go underground despite protests by them on the basis of the smell of methane gas. The government should put in place legislation as suggested by Judge Leon.

We further reviewed our participation in Nedlac. We are convinced of the necessity of such a structure. We however believe that we should move towards developing a common understanding based on agreed to assumptions.

The CEC was unanimous in its position on the new LRA, its significance to the labour movement and that without the mass involvement of our membership, employers would have been able to delay the process. Indeed this is a befitting crown to 10 years of struggle by COSATU and the democratic movement for workers rights. The key challenge is its implementation. As part our implementation strategy, we will be holding a 2 day strategy session to empower ourselves on how best to take advantage of the new Law. We will be convening meetings across the country to brief workers on the Bill. At the same time reassure them, that there is no attempt on our part to undermine the democratic process based on mandates.

The government's paper on the Restructuring of State Assets also came up for scrutiny. While a quick glance may suggest that wholesale privatisation is not on the cards, the basic assumptions contradict this very point. As part of our discussing our role in the transformation process, this paper will be interrogated in a workshop before the end of October. We will also be monitoring how management in parastatals and the entire public sector proceeds since tey have the tendency to ndermine national programmes. The CEC mandated the National Office Bearers to approach government for a delay in the finalisation of this matter to allow us to study their document.

  • Political

The CEC condemned in the strongest terms those parties who are blocking transformation. This is evident from their position on the Education Bill. COSATU supports the need for the National Government to intervene if provinces do not comply with national standards. We are also committed to the success of the Local Government Elections. We support the refusal by the ANC to succumb to blackmail by the National Party. We will be mobilising our members in support of the ANC candidates. Our leadership will be involved with the alliance on campaigning for a decisive ANC victory.

  • Conclusion

A number of strikes are currently taking place in the municipality. We support these workers demands as legitimate and reasonable. We call on employers to negotiate in good faith and to ensure a settlement as a matter of urgency. Where necessary, we are available to intervene and help resolve the issues. We will also be meeting with nurses to see how we can help them have effective participation in the Bargaining Chamber. We are convinced that their acceptance into the Chamber will help alleviate the threatened strike action.

On a lighter note, the COSATU National Office Bearers, wish to call on all South Africans to rally around our national soccer squad this weekend and in the African Nations Cup. Our support will spur them on to win the Cup for us as a country. This will be true patriotism.