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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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  |  Resolutions

Organisational Resolutions adopted at 11th COSATU Congress

4 June 2014

  1. Consolidated Organisational Resolution based on decisions arising from the Organisational Section of the Secretariat Report
  2. International Affiliation
  3. Gender
  4. Sexual Orientation and Hate Crimes against Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered people

1. Consolidated Organisational Resolution, based on decisions arising from the Organisational Section of the Secretariat Report


  1. We are only half way to achieving the 4m membership target which we adopted in the 2015 Plan, and that we are seriously under-represented amongst the following categories of workers:- young workers, white, coloured and Indian workers, women workers , and all categories of vulnerable workers.
  2. Evidence tells us that we need to change our mindset to focus on the expectations of our members regarding job protection and wages. In this regard we need to improve the quality of service to our members, including in collective bargaining and dealing with disciplinary and grievance matters.
  3. That one of the founding principles of our Federation is to practice Solidarity and Unity in Action, but that we have a long way to go to make this a practical reality.
  4. That it is through sharing knowledge and experiences across Affiliates that we can expect to deepen and strengthen the Federation as a whole
  5. Our members are calling for a greater visibility of leadership at all levels, as well as for more communication and enhanced levels of accountability.
  6. That in order to achieve all of the above, we require a strong national centre which, amongst other things
    1. coordinates the common areas of work of Affiliates
    2. facilitates the sharing of good practice
    3. monitors the implementation of Federation decisions
    4. builds strong Provinces and Locals


To take practical steps as outlined below:-

Membership recruitment, organising and servicing

  1. To implement the 2011 Central Committee decision to establish a National Organisers’ Forum which should drive the implementation of the CEC’s National Recruitment Plan, in collaboration with the Campaigns Committee.
  2. The National Organisers’ Forum also to share information and identify best practices in:-
    1. Case management
    2. The training and mentoring of organisers
    3. Recruitment and organising strategies
    4. The handling of legal cases
    5. Collective Bargaining (see Collective Bargaining below for more details)
    6. Handling of strikes (see Strike Actions below for more details)
    7. Appointment, recall, management and remuneration of Full Time Shop Stewards
    8. Other agreed organisational tasks and strategies.
  3. To establish a Vulnerable Sectors Task Team under the auspices of the National Organisers’ Forum. This Task Team to be made up of Affiliate organisers and/or shop stewards from the Vulnerable Sectors, including but not limited to fixed term contract workers, labour broker workers, domestic workers, farm workers, contract cleaning and security workers, hospitality and commercial workers, creative workers, workers in small companies, workers in small towns and villages, and immigrant workers. The purpose of the Task Team will be:-
    1. To share ideas on organising workers with a view to developing more coherent organising and servicing strategies for vulnerable workers
    2. To investigate the possibility of establishing a COSATU solidarity organising fund
    3. To promote the cross-sharing of affiliate resources e.g. offices in small towns
    4. To investigate the possibility of establishing COSATU Advice Offices in strategic areas
  4. As part of supporting and strengthening the organisation of informal sector workers generally, to continue to support the establishment of a National Street Vendors’ Alliance in 2013. In addition, to support the Organizing project being developed by Streetnet in whatever ways possible, and to encourage linkages between organised street vendors and COSATU.
  5. To take urgent steps to improve our collection of Affiliate membership data, in order to enhance our ability to plan for recruitment as well as to target our organising and servicing appropriately. To this end we will establish a Membership Data Task Team made up of Affiliate representatives who work directly with membership data collection in order to share best practices, with a view to working towards standardisation of membership data collection.


See the comprehensive consolidated Resolution as adopted


  1. To speed up the setting up of Youth Forums in Affiliates, which will in turn enable the establishment of a representative and accountable COSATU Youth Forum. COSATU to appoint a Youth Coordinator within 12 months to drive this process.
  2. In the meantime, Affiliates to share their Youth organising strategies in the National Organisers Forum, including addressing ageism and creating space for young workers.
  3. To promote the recruitment of young organisers and other officials by Affiliates and the Federation, including through the employment of interns.
  4. The National Organisers Forum to exchange views and make recommendations on retrenchment policies which currently discriminate against young workers.
  5. The CEC to develop a strategy for organising the Unemployed (of whom young people are the vast majority), starting with a mechanism for retaining membership of retrenched workers.
  6. At all levels of the Federation to reach out to students in order to spread information and understanding of trade union issues.

Locals and Provinces

  1. The Education Unit to develop an induction and training programme for all Local Office Bearers.
  2. To urge Affiliate organisers to attend meetings of Locals.
  3. COSATU Provinces to regularly audit the functioning of their sub-structures & Locals. In this regard a standard reporting format to be developed by head office.
  4. COSATU Provincial leadership to ensure that where Locals take up issues that would benefit from information and support from one or more of the head office Units, that such linkages are made.
  5. Subject to finances permitting, the human capacity of Provinces be expanded by splitting the Organiser and Educator functions into two jobs.
  6. CEC to debate the Constitutional role of Provinces, with a view to possible Constitutional changes in 2015 – in particular with regard to Provincial rights at National Congress.
  7. The CEC to conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of local offices.


  1. To escalate mass education including the Chris Hani Brigades, and to make the linkages between mass education with organising
  2. To develop the internal capacity of both COSATU and Affiliates to deliver quality trade union education and all Affiliates to implement the 10% of budget to education rule
  3. To take steps to ensure that not all of the courses run by external providers are centralised in Gauteng
  4. To prioritise the development of education materials
  5. To take steps to ensure the speedy revival of Ditsela
  6. That Affiliates commit to improving their participation in Nedcom


  1. That the Campaigns Committee will assess the number of campaigns, their effectiveness & methods
  2. To ensure that May Day rallies are more participative
  3. To start planning for the COSATU 30th Anniversary celebrations in 2013
  4. To urgently step up the following campaigns:-
    1. Million Climate Jobs
    2. Public Transport
    3. Anti-Racism campaigns to be urgently stepped up
  5. To ensure that the Campaigns and International Relations Committees work more closely on International Campaigns
  6. To ensure that Affiliate-led campaigns such as Anti-Walmart are given more support by other Affiliates

Collective Bargaining and a national minimum wage

That as part of building a national campaign against poverty wages and for effective collective bargaining we need:-

  1. To move away from percentage ATB increases, which have the effect of growing the gap between the lowest and highest paid workers
  2. To campaign for Compulsory Centralised Bargaining in all sectors
  3. To challenge grading systems based on “decision making” in favour of more worker-friendly systems of recognition of physical effort, risk, discomfort etc
  4. Affiliates to identify occupational specific categories of workers in all sectors whose wages have been distorted downwards by inequitable grading systems, and to negotiate for these distortions to be redressed
  5. To improve our record keeping of collective agreements both within Affiliates and across the Federation
  6. To hold a National Organising and Bargaining Conference before the end of 2012. This Conference, amongst other topics to decide on the question of a National Minimum Wage

Strike Actions

The National Organisers Forum:

  1. To work with NALEDI to improve data collection and analysis of strikes and their outcomes
  2. To conduct a COSATU review of strike processes and legal issues including scab labour, picketing, police practice and to develop proposals for changes in the law
  3. To develop proposals to amend the Gatherings Act to remove unqualified liability for damage
  4. To develop best practice guidelines for Affiliate strike funds
  5. To develop educational material to use in mass education about the principle of not crossing the picket line in strikes


See separate Resolution

Common Affiliate problems and Interventions of the Federation

  1. Affiliates to submit information on their relationships with Service Providers to Fincom, with a view to producing a report on best practice to the CEC
  2. Affiliates to submit information on the governance, accountability, and investment principles of Union Investment Companies to Fincom, with a view to producing a report on best practice to the CEC
  3. COSATU to engage the Department of Labour on a range of registration issues, including but not limited to membership thresholds for registration, and criteria and procedures for deregistration
  4. The National Organisers’ Forum to audit affiliate practices on Full Time Shop Stewards and draft a Code of Good Practice for the CEC to consider
  5. In line with previous Congress Resolutions, Affiliates to re-commit not to “scope creep” by recruiting members who fall under the already demarked scope of other Affiliates. Where such scope creeping has already taken place, Affiliates must hand over such members to the appropriate Affiliate.


  1. To continue our active involvement in ITUC Africa including the following:-
    1. Strengthening the existing areas of cooperation, such as PANAF, HIV and AIDs, coordination in ILO and the AU
    2. Defence of trade union and other human rights
    3. Economic policy formulation and development of joint representation in AU and other institutions
  2. To continue to lobby for the unity of ITUC Africa and OATU
  3. To step up our involvement in International Solidarity Campaigns, in particular the Swaziland Solidarity Campaign and the Campaign for a Free Palestine
  4. To strengthening our participation in SATUCC, as part of a strategy to forge solidarity amongst the workers of Southern Africa
  5. To continue our participation in SIGTUR as part of a strategy to forge solidarity amongst workers of the South

See also the separate Resolution on International Affiliation

NEDLAC and other tripartite socio economic institutions

  1. Once and for all, Affiliates to commit to more active participation in NEDLAC

COSATU to urgently implement the decision to establish a Socio Economic Commission which will monitor affiliate participation, develop systems of accountability, and ensure collective mandating to NEDLAC and other tripartite socio economic institutions

2. Resolution on International Affiliation

This 11th Congress Resolves that as part of our revolutionary task of uniting the international trade union movement and create a single world trade union federation, we will as a matter of principle affiliate to the WFTU and also remain as an affiliate to ITUC. We believe this will allow us to use our position in both these international federations to advance towards their merger.

Therefore Congress mandates the first CEC to look at the modalities of implementing this resolution which will include the following:

  1. The constitutional implications to both ITUC and WFTU
  2. To allow for COSATU to properly consult with both ITUC and WFTU.

In the period between now and the first CEC, affiliates which have not properly consulted with membership will be allowed to take membership on board.

In the case where this resolution becomes practically impossible to implement, the CEC will set a process to have the federation properly and systematically reviewing it.

3. Gender Resolution – DENOSA/NUMSA/CEPPWAWU/NEHAWU and the Resolutions from the Gender Conference

We note :-

  1. Patriarchy is still pervasive in our society and is also evident in the workplace.
  2. Effective participation of women in union and political structures is limited by family responsibility, especially child care and spousal domination.
  3. Women continue to bear the greatest brunt of HIV and AIDS.
  4. Women are continuously side-lined and still lack requisite confidence to take up leadership positions in union, community and political structures.
  5. Even though the number of women in key institutions has increased, women remain marginalised when it comes to making key decisions in the economy
  6. Cabinet has approved the release of a draft Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill for comment.
  7. The scourge of gender-based violence is increasing drastically; affecting both women and children in our communities.
  8. The high incidents of human trafficking through which women and children are treated as sex objects.
  9. We have allowed job evaluation and grading systems to be dictated by management and that these systems continue to place the majority of women at the bottom end of the wage scale and in more vulnerable positions of employment.
  10. These grading systems and job evaluations are implemented without due regard for the need to transform workplaces in South Africa and the imperative of gender equity
  11. We have made good progress in the gender equity in employment through the training and promotion of women into positions traditionally perceived to be “men’s work”, but many employers continue to resist the training and promotion of women.
  12. Our collective bargaining tends to emphasise wage increases at the expense of other improvements in conditions of employment, in particular reproductive issues such as maternity protection, child care, reproductive health and wellness and transport subsidies.
  13. Our persistent tabling of across the board percentage increase demands is contributing to the ever increasing wage gap between lowest and highest paid, and that this in turn is entrenching unequal pay between women and men.
  14. Full access to maternity protection is not yet enjoyed by most vulnerable women workers such as women working in farms, domestic workers and sex workers.
  15. That women domestic workers and women farm workers remain the largest groups of vulnerable and super-exploited women, and yet the challenges faced by their respective unions (SADSAWU and FAWU) are such that progress is slow in organising and representing them. These challenges include getting access to organise, difficulties in payment of union subscriptions, and collective communication. SADSAWU in particular has difficulty in meeting the requirements for both affiliation to COSATU as well as registration as a trade union.
  16. Companies are not complying with the Employment Equity (EE) and Skills Development legislation, particularly as it relates to women’s empowerment and upward mobility on the factory floor.
  17. The Industrial Policy Action Plan has estimated that 2 477 000 direct and indirect jobs will be created over the next ten years.
  18. The continued criminalization of sex work has a discriminatory element as only women are charged and not their clients who solicit their services.

We therefore resolve on women in society

  1. That there is a need to develop campaigns with specific focus on gender equality and human trafficking and to oppose any legislation that seeks to promote patriarchy such as the recently drafted Traditional Courts Bill.
  2. To strengthen COSATU’s relationships with progressive organisations advocating for gender equality, including PWMSA
  3. To lobby for the Commission for Gender Equality to be allocated a much bigger budget in order to effectively carry out its work, and to lobby for a guaranteed seat for COSATU in the Commission.
  4. To step up our efforts to eliminate gender based violence through programmes and campaigns in the workplace, in our unions, and in our communities, including to reaffirm and support the 16-Days of Activism Campaign Against Women and Child Abuse. This includes putting our COSATU locals at the centre of these programmes and campaigns,
  5. To campaign for the passing of legislation on human trafficking be as soon possible.
  6. To support the proposal by the Ministry of Women, Children and People Living with Disabilities to set up a National Council Against Gender-Based Violence.
  7. To develop programmes and campaigns aimed at eliminating harmful traditional practices such as ‘ukuthwala’.
  8. To support the fast-tracking of the establishment of an academy to train cooperatives with an advisory board that must work closely with trade unions and working class community organisations focusing specifically on women as beneficiaries in particular retrenched workers.
  9. To call for the establishment of a fund that will not only support women’s business initiatives and address their challenges related to access but will also support skilling women for non-business related work such as engineering.
  10. To lobby for a special subsidy to enable access to basic resources such as water, electricity and fuel for poor households headed by women or children.
  11. That as a matter of urgency COSATU should make its submission on the draft Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill.

And we resolve on women in the workplace

  1. That collective bargaining and Employment Equity should be used to support gender equality in the workplace.
  2. To campaign for the establishment of childcare facilities in the workplace and that COSATU and its affiliates should take a lead in the establishment of these facilities.
  3. To take active steps to close gender wage gaps.
  4. As part of our campaign for Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value, to take urgent steps to empower negotiators to understand and critique current job grading practices, with a view to developing alternative systems.
  5. To continue to demand the training and promotion of women into jobs traditionally reserved for men.
  6. To ensure that our settlements consistently include gender equity issues, and that these issues are not compromised.
  7. To call for Bargaining Councils adopt policies on gender parity among representatives in their structures
  8. NALEDI should be commissioned to develop a framework on which to base the activities and campaigns of the COSATU gender unit in addressing work and patriarchy. The framework should include:
    1. A strategy to counter the feminisation of poverty (low wages).
    2. The impact of labour broking on women.
    3. The impact of the informalisation of work on women.
    4. The meaning of decent work for women workers.
  9. To campaign for the realisation of maternity rights for all working women, to launch a campaign to ensure that government ratifies ILO Convention 183 and Recommendation R191 on Maternity Protection convention , and to campaign for the establishment of a dedicated Maternity Protection Fund, separate to UIF.
  10. To ensure that every workplace has a sexual harassment policy, based on the DOL’s Code of Good Practice and that each work place should have a specialist trained shop steward/s who deals with sexual harassment cases. Affiliates should call on SHEP to provide training for specialist shop stewards and organisers at a fee
  11. To call for a review of the Schedule on Maximum Permissible Fines that may be imposed for contravening the EE Act with the aim of imposing penalties on those who do not comply with EEA, particularly in relation to black women.
  12. That Black Women should make up 50% of the target of new jobs in the Industrial Policy Action Plan.
  13. That 50% of the beneficiaries of the Department of Economic Development Jobs Fund must be women; including the lowest category of workers and that this process must lead to career progression for them.
  14. To campaign for the decriminalisation of sex work through the repealing of the Sexual Offences Act, as part of a broader campaign of ensuring their enjoyment of labour, human, health & safety and socio economic rights. As well as to support organisations like Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and SISONKE (organisation for sex workers) in their efforts to educate and organise sex workers.
  15. To call on the government to ratify ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
  16. That COSATU should make a call that the movement and campaign for Equal Pay for Equal Work must be implemented and monitored by the Commission for Gender Equality.

And we also resolve on women in the Affiliates and the Federation

  1. To ensure that unions involve women in collective bargaining teams to address gender agenda in collective bargaining activities
  2. That employment opportunities within unions in positions such education, organising and collective bargaining are open to women shopstewards and officials as a way of ensuring that issues affecting women are central to the bargaining agenda of trade unions.
  3. To build the capacity of women in gender structures and coordinators by developing political consciousness in women cadres in order to boost their confidence to actively participate in gender structures.
  4. That the federation and its affiliates’ leadership are accountable for making unions’ employment practices gender equitable.
  5. To Develop policy mechanisms to facilitate women’s participation in affiliate and Federation structures including:
    1. Constitutionalising gender structures i.e. the gender secretary and chairperson are part of all constitutional meetings provincially and nationally.
    2. Quota’s for ALL structural meetings (50-50 to be a minimum)
    3. Union education and training policies tackling women’s emancipation and gender equality
    4. The CEC to periodically monitor and evaluate the implementation of the resolution on women representation in union structures.
  6. That COSATU and affiliates give support to SADSAWU financially, technically, in capacity building and in the provision of infrastructure, and that SADSAWU should be invited to all Federation education and capacity building programmes.
  7. That the NGC, through engagement with the affiliates, should lead a process of review of COSATU’s Gender policy to ensure its relevance to the current challenges.

4. Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Hate Crimes against Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered People


Noting that

  1. Over the past 10 years there has been an upsurge of hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgendered people in South Africa and internationally;
  2. These hate crimes are part of a toxic family of discriminations (racism, sexism homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia etc) that if left to fester will be used to divide the working class.
  3. The recent decapitation of a gay man in the Northern Cape and the attack on a young woman who kissed her partner in the Carlton Centre are just the tip of the iceberg;
  4. Rape and murder of lesbian women is increasing in our communities;
  5. Only 1 in 9 rapes are reported in South Africa.
  6. Homophobia is rife in our society and workplaces.

Believing that

  1. All people should be free to live their lives as they choose without fear of attack and that the rights not be discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation is enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution;
  2. COSATU should be a champion of these rights;
  3. There is a need to arm shop stewards and leaders with the tools and consciousness to be able to address these forms of discrimination at workplace level
  4. COSATU must develop a coherent campaign throughout the affiliates on this issue;

Therefore resolves to

  1. Call upon Government to take a firm stand on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and in particular to speak out unequivocally against hate crimes in our communities;
  2. Demand that Government holds accountable any political figure who encourages the idea that LGBT people are not normal and should be deprived of rights;
  3. Demand that Government brings legislation before parliament dealing with hate crimes;
  4. Demand that the police and magistrates be sensitised to these issues and be trained to deal with victims;
  5. Demand that the National Hate Crimes Task Team set up to deal with hate crimes against LGBT people and set up by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development in May 2011, is properly funded and becomes a campaigning body and not just a talk shop;
  6. Develop a COSATU strategy & campaign document to ensure that no member of any affiliate is unable to declare his/her sexual orientation.
  7. Develop education strategies aimed at combating homophobia and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
  8. Reach out to organisations in the LGBT sector and other organisations who have taken a stance on hate crimes as a way of implementing the above resolution.