Saturday, August 27, 2016

COSATU Central Executive Committee Statement -22-24 August 2016
The Congress of South African Trade Unions held a scheduled meeting of its Central Executive Committee from 22-24 August 2016, which was attended by the national office bearers, the representatives of its affiliated unions and provincial structures. The meeting discussed and resolved on a number of organisational, political, international and socio-economic issues affecting the workers and the working class in the country and around the world.

The CEC took time to commemorate and remember the tragic events that took place in Marikana four years ago. We reiterate our earnest commiserations and sympathy to the families and fellow workers, who perished in those tragic events in Marikana. This tragedy represents the dark and heartbreaking episode for the workers and the South African people in general. All the 44 lives that were lost in Marikana are important including the 78 workers, who were injured.

We find it unfortunate and regrettable that in the midst of the pain, grief and despair that is still felt by the affected families, this tragedy is being used by some political opportunists to score cheap political points. We call on government to expedite the process of implementing all the recommendations of the Farlam Commission and also push for the transformation of the mining sector. We call on mine-owners to respect the peace accord that was signed by workers in the mining sector and refrain from sowing conflict amongst the workers.

The federation continue to register its disappointment with the Department of Mineral Resources and the Lily mine management for not expediting the process of rescuing workers, who have been trapped underground for over six months. There are also no visible plans from DMR and government to help the effected family members. We offer our solidarity with the workers and the affected families and call on the national government to intervene on this matter.

The CEC also paid its respects to the former SACCAWU President, Cde Amos Mothapo, who passed away after a bout of illness and a SAMWU member, who was tragically shot dead in the unions head office. We also salute the recently departed Cde Makhenkesi Stofile, who served the movement and the people of South Africa with dedication and discipline until the end.

We also remember and acknowledge that this year, 2016; represents some historical milestones like the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Students' Uprising, fiftieth 50th anniversary of the founding of the people's army, Umkhonto we Sizwe, as well as the sixtieth 60th anniversary of the historic Women's March to the Union Buildings. This is a reminder that our people have a proud history to inspire us today, and indeed to also emulate. We congratulate the South African Olympic team for representing the country with dignity and pride in Brazil.

The CEC noted that during this heightened global economic crisis; capital has been successful not only to shift the burden of their self made crisis to the working class; but it has also been successful to shift the blame of the ideological and economic failures of capitalism to nation states. Many national governments are left high and dry, in particular those in developing countries. It is now their responsibility to explain these failures to the despondent and angry masses.

This coupled with mistakes by democratic governments, which include departing from aggressive implementation of working class policies , has created a platform for the rise of the right wing around the world. This means that workers are conducting their struggles under conditions, which are not of their own choosing. The entire world is also afflicted by imperialist aggression and terrorist atrocities ;and the working class are its most highly affected victims, especially in the developing countries.

Despite all of this, the CEC concluded that this crisis presents an opportunity for the unity and the strengthening of the left-wing resistance to this scourge of Neoliberalism. What is also clear is that this global capitalist crisis requires a progressive ideological response to offset its impact in the developing economies, and also to protect the interests of the working class and the poor.

Socio-economic outcomes

The federation engaged on many socio-economic issues that are currently affecting the workers and the working class in general and came out with many resolutions and decisions, some of them captured below.


COSATU reiterates its call for all social partners to speed up the convening of the NEDLAC Jobs Summit that will seek solutions to the scourge of unemployment and ongoing job losses taking place in the country. There is already a consensus on the need for this summit by all stakeholders and many also agree that we need it before the end of the year ; but what we want to see is a sense of urgency. Labour as a whole has already constituted its team and forwarded it to government and other social partners.

The last job figures by Statistics South Africa were very depressing and showed that our economy has already shed over 500 000 jobs during the first half of this year. All the sectors of the economy are not immune from these retrenchments and even the sectors such as the services industry, public administration, health and social work, as well as recreational, cultural and sporting activities have lost their resilience. We expect the summit to address the ongoing investment strike by big business and also the inappropriate macro-economic policies that have resulted in economic stagnation and the ongoing job losses.

The government's pedestrian response to this economic crisis will not work. The CEC wants to remind government and big business that behind the job statistics are families and communities whose lives are being ravaged by these massive retrenchments. These are the same people and voters, who have demonstrated their anger and frustrations in the ballot box during the past elections.

COSATU will also be exploring the strengthening of the labour legislation that deals with retrenchments like Section 189 , because so far the workers are getting the wrong end of the stick and the laws are not helping.

On company Mergers and their impact on retrenchments.

The CEC expressed its deep concern that company mergers in the country are wreaking havoc on jobs. This has been happening all across the sectors of the economy. Recently , we have noted with unease the latest reports and speculation that the Steinhoff Group is planning to buy Shoprite and also the retail company is thinking about offshore expansion. This is deeply troubling because Steinhoff is the same company that acquired the JD Group and subsequently slashed thousands of jobs and reduced its size and operations to increase profits and better returns for investors. They did this without thinking about the workers. They delisted the J D Group from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, privatising their financial affairs and operations of the company.

This has resulted in them offering workers below inflation salary adjustments to the poorly paid workers at the bottom of the salary scale, without presenting workers with financial statements to justify their offer. This is also the same company that spent over R11 billion buying a UK company Poundland, while it is retrenching workers in the country and also refusing to pay its workers a decent salary increase.

COSATU will monitor the developments on this front and will fight to oppose this planned merger of both Shoprite and Steinhoff.

They want to create a crisis of profit that will cost workers their jobs and their livelihoods. This is deplorable because these same companies are refusing to invest in this country but are only want to take their profits out of this country and invest them there. The Competition Commission needs more powers to intervene, it has to be assisted to stop these mergers. Its power should allow it to ensure that they do not allow companies to engage in mergers that compromise workers livelihoods.

Comprehensive Social security and Retirement fund reform

We have resolved to reject the deadline of 1st of March 2018, that was previously set up by Parliament for the finalisation of the New Tax Amendment Act. The implementation of this Act was postponed for two years, earlier this year, following our demand for the scrapping of the aspects of the law that involved annuitisation and preservation. This decision was taken after government failed to present the Comprehensive Social Security paper at NEDLAC for discussions.

This failure means that we have lost time to engage on the agreed matters. The workers no longer recognise that agreement and we demand that a new arrangement be made that will be conditional on government's presentation of the Comprehensive Social Security paper and also satisfying other conditions on this issue. While government is vacillating, there are more people, who are falling into through the cracks of the system because of the absence of the Comprehensive Social Security system.

National Minimum Wage

COSATU acknowledges the appointment of the National Minimum Wage Advisory Panel of experts by the Deputy President of South Africa, Cde Cyril Ramaphosa. We also appreciate that the ANC NEC has made a call for the NEDLAC processes to be expedited and for the National Minimum Wage to be introduced. While we will constructively work with the panel and give them the necessary support to do their work, we want to caution government, big business and the panel itself that any delaying tactics will be rejected by labour, as well as any attempts to entrench the current ultra low wage structure.

Workers have run out of patience and the panel needs to accelerate its work. COSATU is not arguing that the time for the introduction of the minimum wage has just arrived; but we are arguing that it is long overdue. Raising the minimum wage isn't just good for workers; but it is good for economic growth.

The CEC denounced the ludicrous arguments by the opponents of the minimum wage. We reject their arguments that a policy that will make a real impact on the wages of 5, 5 million full time workers, who are currently earning below the working poor line, is not good for the economy. What they all need to understand is that well paid workers are also the best customers that South
African businesses can hope for.

Cartel Behaviour - Arcelor Mittal

The CEC noted that Arcelor Mittal SA was fined R1.5bn by the Competition Commission for price fixing. While this sends a strong message of deterrence to cartels, we are unhappy that the company executives were not held liable. COSATU has consistently called for the prosecution of all directors, whose companies are implicated in cartel behaviour. What is infuriating is that Arcelor Mittal has been retrenching workers at the same time that it has been engaging in cartel behaviour. COSATU reiterates its 2010 CEC decision, calling for the nationalisation of Arcelor Mittal because steel is one of the key strategic industries, upon which the country's growth and development is dependent. This sector also remains very key for industrial development and job creation.

Free Education

The CEC has endorsed and offered its full support to the universities student's call for a no fee increment in the 2017 academic year ,until the Presidential Commission of Enquiry into Higher Education { Fees Commission} tables its final report as expected.

In the absence of such a report, COSATU believes that there should be no discussions about any fee increments by Universities.

The federation also supports the student's argument that this country has enough resources hidden in the pockets of white monopoly capital that can be harnessed and utilised to provide free education for the vulnerable students. Attempts to reform an education system that was never meant to accommodate poor students is a futile endeavour, so we are calling on government to take a lead in overhauling the funding model of our education system and stop vacillation and indecisiveness. COSATU shall continue to work with students until free education is a reality in this country ;and we will be part of the planned activities that will culminate with a march in early October this year. We support government's efforts to resolve this issue but we demand they do more because, there will be no radical economic transformation when people are denied education.

Building the Organisation

What came out very clear in this meeting is that our federation and its affiliates are now regrouping and steadily regaining their focus and strength. The CEC resolved that all COSATU unions should build on this by continuing with their intensive recruitment drive and a listening campaign that will help unions deliver better service to their respective members. We shall work hard on building strong united unions in all sectors, as well as strong and functional bargaining forums. We shall also intensify our listening campaign and workplace visits as a way of talking to our members and take up their issues raised during election campaign.

All COSATU affiliates are expected to establish or resuscitate their war-rooms that will be used to deal and resolve all issues that concern and afflict workers on a daily basis. The will also help them wage broader struggles and campaigns like the campaign against attempts to eliminate our right to strike; to defend collective Bargaining and also demand the expansion of centralised bargaining across all sectors.

The federation shall work to strengthen the workers capacity to take up work place struggles like exposing corruption, acting against racism, including paying a special focus on women's struggles in the workplace. The CEC appreciated the strides that have been made by the National Leadership of COSATU to intervene in some of the affiliates that are experiencing internal challenges.

The CEC also resolved to take up a mass action in responding to the challenges faced by workers as a build up towards an international decent work day on the 7th October 2016. The federation will be fighting for these following issues.

Banning of the labour brokers
Scraping of the e tolling system including the expensive toll gate
Fight to protect our jobs
Fight for National Minimum Wage
Fight to protect our collective agreement
Fight for proper Office Health Standards in all workplaces
Fight for NHI
Fight for the scrapping of the taxation amendment law
The federation shall also expedite the formulation of its medium-term strategic vision and plan that will help provide us with a cohesive framework on what needs to be done on all fronts.

Solidarity work

We will ceaselessly continue to rebuild and strengthen COSATU and all those affiliates particularly the industrial unions that continue to face varying challenges at the moment. Unions will heighten their solidarity work and support each other's struggles. They will deploy all resources, time and energy towards strengthening their sister affiliates by helping them recruit and service members and also wage workplace struggles during this time of the economic crisis and employer offensive.

We will continue to implement all of our resolutions adopted by the 12th session of the workers parliament. These resolutions shall remain the compass and a guide to action for every affiliate, every shop steward, every organiser and every member in every workplace.

We are also calling on all workers, especially municipal workers to prepare themselves for serious battles after the election outcomes have resulted in the DA taking over some of the metropolitan municipalities. The DA's anti-worker and anti union policies automatically means that we can expect them to unleash a war against the workers and purge many of them from the municipalities that they have won. We view this as an opportunity to rebuild and ensure that we organised the unorganised workers, who will surely become victims of the DA. COSATU will be leading from the front in these battles.

FAWU Congress

The CEC noted that the leadership of FAWU has succeeded to push for the union's disaffiliation from COSATU and join a non-existent federation. We are not surprised by the decision ,but we are currently planning to meet with many FAWU members; including provincial structures that have made it clear to the federation that they are not leaving the federation. The reality is that FAWU is a victim of a polarising leadership that has worked hard to split an already weakened union for their narrow political reasons.

COSATU has been very patient with FAWU because we are concerned about the plight of farm workers. We tolerated the decision by their leadership to boycott COSATU meetings since 2014, and also we did not disaffiliate them despite the fact that they have not paid subscription fees for more than nine months. We did this for the workers because more than one million farm workers are vulnerable and are crying for a united and stronger union in the sector that will focus its energies on defending them from exploitation.

This leadership purged members, defied court orders and bankrupted the organisation to a shell of its formers self. Many of their structures who did not agree with leaving COSATU were purged and their right to participate at the congress was taken away.

Since COSATU remains a home to all workers, we will not abandon the workers and we will continue focus on trying to unite them, especially the vulnerable ones, who are under siege from exploitative employers. The farmers should not be emboldened to think that workers are without a home, COSATU will intensify its campaign in the sector that started in January in Mpumalanga and has since spread to other provinces. Our doors are open for all those workers who see COSATU as their home !

On the political situation and the NDR

The CEC expressed its appreciation to the more than 53% of the voters, who still entrusted the ANC with their votes and ensured that it comes out an overall winner in these elections. The ANC won these elections despite attempts to downplay that fact and magnify its losses by the chattering classes. We acknowledge and thank all the workers and volunteers, who campaigned and voted for the ANC. We believe that the elections were free and fair and therefore salute the Independent Electoral Commission for a job well done; indeed our democracy is in good hands.

Election Assessment

In assessing these election outcomes, the CEC is calling on all alliance partners to do away with self adulation, self delusion, conspiratorial thinking or any speculative hypothesis about the invisible enemies and focus on internal introspections. In its own reflections, the CEC acknowledged and concluded that it is now clear that the outcomes of this electoral contest, to a great extent signify a shift in the balance of social and political forces in the country.

The internal factional battles, the corruption scandals and the growing distance from the people have gradually eroded the enduring overwhelming support enjoyed by the ANC-led Alliance amongst the masses of our people. We all have to acknowledge that our political necks are in the hangman's noose, and we will not survive if we continue with the business as usual mentality.

The figures of these election results show that the discontent and this growing sense of alienation, frustration and sometimes despair is being felt deeply across a broad spectrum of the waged and unwaged popular strata.

It is undeniable that the voters are unhappy with the way the leadership of our movement handled the Inkandla matter, including the constitutional judgement on the report by the Public Protector. They are unhappy with the economic corporatism, corruption, political and bureaucratic arrogance, including factionalism that has left the ANC paralysed. While there is a need for deep soul searching by all in the movement, the elected leadership at all levels needs to acknowledge that the buck stops with them.

They need to account and respond to the direct and key message, coming from the voters, who have shown that they no longer believe that the centre is holding.

COSATU acknowledges that the federation was not at its best during these elections and that also a weakened Alliance found itself in disarray and lacked the required coherency in the application of both strategy and tactics. All of this combined with increasingly united counterrevolutionary forces comprising white-monopoly capital, and political opposition supported by western imperialism has placed our revolution at crossroads. We shall convene bilateral meetings with both the ANC and the SACP to address these glaring weaknesses of the alliance and also to chart our way-forward. We also plan to work with the SACP to facilitate the convening of a consultative conference of the left forces to shape the future.

The message

Now that the people have spoken, the ANC and the Alliance needs to decode their message and respond accordingly. The message is that most people still love the ANC but are losing trust in it and are angry. This is evidenced by the voter abstention numbers.

These election results show that South Africans are tired of persistent and radicalized poverty, mass unemployment and extreme inequalities. They have rejected the policy choices that have failed to decisively deal with the economic legacy of colonialism and apartheid. They are clearly unhappy that the redistribution of income has not occurred; the means of production and power remain concentrated in white capitalist hands; and that the strategic sectors of the economy remains highly monopolised and foreign owned.

The ANC needs to rescue its government from the stranglehold of National Treasury and the iniquitous ratings agencies by implementing its progressive policies and resolutions adopted in Polokwane and Mangaung respectively. This is the time to act decisively to stem the tide of the ongoing retrenchments, ban labour brokers, scrap e-tolls, implement the NHI, provide free education for the poor; and also implement a more radical phase of our transition based on economic transformation.

They have to expedite the implementation of the National Minimum Wage, the nationalisation of the strategic sectors of the economy, establishment of a state bank, and the clarification of the status of Ketlaphela, a state pharmaceutical company that is currently in limbo. The ANC cannot continue to allow the pillaging of the state resources through the tender system and also tolerate the wasteful expenditure of government and inefficiencies of State Owned Entities.

On the developmental state

They need to eliminate this phenomenon of the elevation of the state over the movement. The movement also needs to stop being ill disposed to dissent and must refrain from treating mass-based activism against the deficiencies of the state, as counter-revolutionary and oppositional. We cannot continue with the uncritical defence of the inherent, horrible deficiencies of the inherited colonial and capitalist state that has led the masses to gradually lose confidence in the capacity of the ANC to drive transformation.

COSATU feels that the time has arrived for the ANC to aggressively construct a developmental state. Such a state will not be decreed but will be constructed based on its developmental tasks, which are in line with the strategic objectives of the National Democratic Revolution. The overarching tasks of such a developmental state should be to effect and impose radical economic transformation through decisive state intervention in the economy. It must decisively intervene in the economy to redistribute resources in order to address the triple crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality. We expect the role and character of such a developmental state to be working class biased, be based on participatory democracy and also be anti-imperialist in posture.

Calls for Early ANC Conference and the ANC Succession Debate

The CEC noted the calls from some quarters for an early conference of the ANC, COSATU is not violently opposed to that call, but we will continue to listen to the reasons put forward and articulated by all those making that call. We also have to consider the fact that the last ANC NGC's organisational report told us that the ANC is riddled with factionalism, gate keeping and slate politics at all levels.

The sad reality is that the current ANC is highly factionalised and cannot claim to be still functioning as a coherent and a unitary organisation. There is also a danger that shortcut solutions will plunge the organisation into more disarray and decline. The biggest challenge for the ANC is to clean and rid itself of opportunists, looters, criminals, flatterers, patrons, factionalists and hangers-on that have infiltrated, captured and ultimately weakened it.

The CEC debated the ANC succession processes and agreed that the workers are not neutral on this matter. In our congress we said we will enter into this debate at the right time and the CEC agreed that now is the right time. In this context, it was agreed that all related discussions will be properly concluded at the Special CEC which will be convened soon.


COSATU is also calling on all alliance structures to work together and stop the political killings that are continuing to take place in places like Inchanga in KZN. We condemn this deterioration and anarchy and we urge the law enforcement agencies to stop these political assassinations by arresting the perpetrators.


On coalitions, the CEC also concluded that the recent municipal coalitions amongst opposition parties have also exposed the political bankruptcy of opposition parties in South Africa. Some have proven themselves to be ideological turncoats and class collaborators, who are just using left rhetoric to get easy applause and also harvest votes from the desperate working class. Their strategic objective is to undermine democratic advances by hollowing out the majority rule, which is being used by the democratic government to drive a transformation programme. This Neo-Liberal and Right wing axis have a common desire to use whatever means possible to seize political power from the ANC led progressive forces. We shall work to expose them for what they are, stooges of monopoly capital.

International solidarity work

The CEC has reiterated its continued commitment and support for the people of Palestine, Swaziland, Cuba, Western Sahara, Basque and Kurdistan. We support the Brazilian Workers Party and President Roussef and reject the coup and the ongoing impeachment process directed at the president. We condemn the offensive against the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, and we offer our solidarity to the people and workers of Venezuela.

The CEC expressed concern over the situation in Zimbabwe, where government is violating the human rights of the citizens and both private companies and the government are failing to pay workers their salaries. We also denounce the 14 SADC countries for appointing King Mswati to be the Chairperson of their regional body, despite the fact that he still continues with his human rights violations, and the undemocratic Tinkundla system.

COSATU is worried about the ongoing instability in Lesotho, since the coup, that has resulted in people being purged from their jobs and some assassinated. We call for SADC to deal with these purges and assassinations.

The CEC resolved to convene a Trilateral meeting between the Ghana TUC, LNC Nigeria and COSATU between the 15-16th of September in Johannesburg to discuss the state of unionism in the continent and also the plight of the working class in general.

We are also looking forward to the 17th World Trade Union Congress that will be hosted by the COSATU affiliated unions, namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), the Police Prisons and Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and the Chemical Energy Print Paper and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) as from Wednesday, 5th October 2016 -until- Friday 07 October 2016 at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban, KZN.

This congress will be attended by more than 70 trade union formations, representing the four corners of the world, namely Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. This will give a platform to all class orientated trade unions movement under the banner of WFTU to reflect and come out with responses to the challenges facing the working class all around the world and also to consolidate and strengthen the principles of working class internationalism and universalism.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street

P.O.Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794

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