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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor


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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements


Issued by: COSATU


COSATU Central Executive Committee held a strategy workshop on the 23 - 24 Oct. 1995 to deal with critical issues relating to the political, social and economic transformation of our country.

The workshop took place against the background of continued job losses, very little prospect of finding jobs by the unemployed, lack of social security for the working class and the need to consolidate democracy in our country.

Various inputs were made in the workshop. The workshop focused among others issues:

- The government's viewpoint and approach to transformation - The same opportunity was granted to business. This was to ensure a greater understanding of the agenda and approach on issues being debated inside and outside of Nedlac. - International experience on social partnership, the sort of issues often discussed and its impact on society and the labour movement. - Deepening democracy in the movement and in the country as a whole and how we as workers can ensure effective delivery of the RDP. - Assessment of Nedlac. - Key challenges facing the country in general and labour in particular.

During the discussions and debate the following key themes emerged:

1. Transformation

We are convinced that if we are to succeed in the transformation process, we have to tackle issues of hunger, poverty, joblessness and homelessness. While these are important they do not not undermine the need for delivery on other issues. In this regard, the agenda for transformation must embrace jobs, growth and redistribution of resources and services. This will bring about real transformation rather than tinkering at the edges of the inherited system.

2. Political

The present dispensation that came through struggle by the working class needs defending and consolidation. We agree to engage in processes of deepening democracy through ensuring effective participation in decision making and broad policy formulations by masses. In the same way that we expect the government in particular the ANC to be accountable, the same should apply to all parties and social movements.

One of the ways in which we hope to engage our people is together with the alliance, bring on board the entire spectrum of the mass democratic movement on board our agenda through campaigns such as Masakhane, exposing the DP, IFP, NATS and PAC agenda to block change in Education Delivery etc.

The same would apply to the constitution making process. There is a range of forces who are opposed to the narrow view held by the DP and NATS on socio-economic rights. For the DP and the NATS what is important is to entrench white ownership and control of the means of production, while blocking access by those who in the past were denied access to basic need and resources. These we can not allow.


While business shout about the need for investment, what they are putting into the economy is a drop in the ocean. They are not investing in the new jobs, but in machines and the JSE. They are not building new factories, but putting profits in speculative investments. We are also opposed dogmatic adherence to trade liberalisation where we are moving years ahead of the GATT agreed years. The result is not liberalisation, but closure of factories and retrenchments. We are not calling for a pull out from the GATT arrangement but for a negotiated approach which will safeguard jobs and thereby bring about social stability.

While the government has indicated the need for consensus on restructuring of state assets, some Boards and Management of parastatals are in hurry to sell off the family silver. This they do under the pretext of enhancing efficiency, out sourcing, delivery etc. In the end what they hope to achieve is to present us with a fait compli. This we reject in toto.

Public Sector Restructuring

We remain convinced that the public sector must be restructured to reflect the South African Community in terms of gender, race and must accommodate sections of societies that were previously marginalised by the apartheid government.

Rationalisation of the Public Service

Rationalisation of the public Service must happen must take into account the auditing process of the public service and the integration of the homeland administration.

The CEC is concerned that the integration of former homeland government is not complete in fact only one has been integrated. And while this is the case the rationalisation process has begun and the audits not done. This will constrain the public service and result in a restructured but inefficient public service. The minister of public service must correct this. This in fact is indicative of the deviation by government from the principle of no unilateral restructuring.

Rationalisation through Attrition

The calculated 8% exodus in a yearly basis in the civil service is cause for concern. These positions remain unfilled. While it may create space for restructuring in the short term, in the long run it creates a serious crisis because key and strategic post may be left vacant at the time when they are needed most (e.g. the police).

Priority Areas

We are of the view that all stakeholders challenges and choices facing us.

To this end, we intend to table in Nedlac a new approach to how we negotiate key areas. From our side we believe that the key priority areas are:


COSATU welcomes the fact that our economy is growing at a rate of 3%. But this is not sufficient to redress unemployment anc create more jobs for the unemployed. The economic growth is dependent among other things on job creation focusing on the development of the bulk infrastructure, e.g. housing, creation of clinics, schools and roads. If money has to be borrowed for this purpose concern should not be on the size of the foreign debt but rather on whether or not we are able to pay back. The 8% threshold set by the IMF should not necessarily be the determinant of how much you borrow or not.

The bosses must invest in job creation by building new factories rather than re-investing in other countries. Those who do not do so must not benefit from the RDP Fund.

As a trade union movement we are concerned about job loses on the shopfloor. This is in part result of globalisation of the economy and blind loyalty to GATT. Equally we are concerned about lack of job creation by the public and private sector.

In actual fact, many jobs have been lost than have been created. We therefore believe on the need for a twin strategy to ensure elimination of unemployment.


The CEC acknowledge that S.A. is now part of the international community and that inevitably therefore, she is influenced either positively or negatively by international economic transactions such as, GATT, the IMF's structural adjustment programme etc. Also accepted was the reality of the unpopular nature in which economic transactions are entered into between states, with the Western World dominating those transactions with little or no opposition at all.

Central to COSATU is the preservation of jobs of our members. To this end we have proposed the following:


We strongly believe that S.A. must enter into trade with other governments by a social clause agreement. The social status in trade must mean that S.A. trade with countries who respect the following:

- The right to join the trade unions - The ban on the use of child labour - The right to strike, to collective bargaining - No discrimination on the basis of race, religion or gender.

We have been advised by our representatives in the Nedlac Trade and Industry Chamber that the government has endorsed a position rejecting this proposal.

This is cause for concern in the labour movement. We believe ourselves not to have prescribes on the labour standards, which include among others the wage paid to workers in those countries we will be trading with. We have done so because we accept that the economic situation of each state determines the minimum in that particular state. In this regard therefore, we believe that our position is reasonable, realisable and realistic.

We challenge government to reconsider its position. This is so because degeneration of worker rights and therefore working conditions in one country/state can be used to undermine economies and therefore result in job losses.