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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU backs unions in Zimbabwe and Nigeria

8 October 2003

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is giving its full support to two important protests being organised by its fellow trade unionists in Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is organising a day of mass action, including work stoppages, today, 8 October, in protest again the ever increasing cost of living, the high level of taxation, the cash crisis and the stifling of trade union activ ities by the government.

COSATU has already expressed its concern at the attacks on of basic trade union rights by the Zimbabwe government and the growth of mass poverty amongst the majority of the population. The situation is getting worse and we wish the ZCTU every success i n their just and legitimate day of protest. We call on the government not to try to use the state forces to disrupt the protests or to attack the workers taking part.

COSATU also reiterates its view that there needs to be social dialogue between government and opposition parties, and the whole of civil society, to find a negotiated settlement to the immense problems the country faces, leading to a new constitution a nd fresh elections.

The Nigerian Labour Congress has been forced, for the second time this year, to call upon its members to take strike action, starting on 9 October, against the government's deregulation of the price of petrol. The unions fear that this policy will lead to profiteering by the oil companies and massive price rises for the people. Even the House of Representatives Committee on Refineries and Petrochemicals has said that the environment for deregulation has not been established and that Nigerians are s trongly opposed to the policy. COSATU supports the NLC's call for a reversal to the old price of N34 per litre.

COSATU fully backs the NLC's action and endorses the pledge by its President, Adams Oshiomhole, that "no amount of threats by the government to deal with him and his men in the Labour Congress" would stop him from following the strike to its logical co nclusion.

We also share his concern that "the government is more intent on clamping down on the NLC, civil society groups and students rather than address issues thrown up by the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products". COSATU calls upon the governm ent to ensure that there is no repetition of the police brutality which led to the death of protesters in the general strike in June and July this year.

COSATU hopes that even at this last minute it will be possible to reach a negotiated agreement and avoid a general strike. We also urge all parties involved to resolve such disputes through dialogue and negotiation. If however the NLC is forced to call out their members, they will have the support of the workers of South Africa.

Patrick Craven
Acting COSATU Spokesperson