Saturday, December 29, 2018

COSATU’s End-of-Year Statement for 2018 
The Congress of South African Trade Unions wishes all its members, workers and the rest of South Africans a restful and happy holiday season. We wish all those who will be travelling by trains, planes and by the roads, a safe journey. This is the time to take some time out to relax and spend some time with family and loved ones.

We caution everyone against engaging in alcohol abuse and needless expenditure during this festive period. We call on employers to award workers enough days to rest with their loved ones and also pay them their bonuses and other necessary remuneration after a very difficult year.

The year 2018 has been a very difficult year for the workers in general, with our economy continuing to shed jobs, resulting in growing inequality and deepening poverty.

COSATU has continued to defy all predictions by growing from strength to strength. This year we successfully convened nine provincial congresses and a four day 13th National Congress. The 13th National Congress made history by electing three women and three males in the top six positions, showing that the federation is leading by example when it comes to gender parity. The federation also, for the first time, elected the first female president. These successful congresses are a reminder that COSATU is still very much a united, activist and powerful worker controlled federation.

We saw huge progress in uniting and sorting out some internal issues that troubled some of our affiliated unions. The financial position of the federation has stabilised and has shown some significant improvement despite the continuing job losses in both the private and the public sector.

We also appreciate and recognise that we are trying to achieve all of this under qualitatively different conditions, which include the steady decline in the rate of unionisation, dire economic situation, the fragmentation and mushrooming of new trade unions.

The situation in the country is not getting any better with the economy continuing to limp and the scourge of corruption continuing to strike at the foundations of our democracy and our economy.

We saw the re-emergence of load shedding that seriously undermined the growth potential of the economy and threatened jobs.

Our battles have not just been limited to workplace issues, but we also made our presence felt in the policy terrain. We can look back at 2018 and be proud of the role that COSATU played to bring about the National Minimum Wage, Basic Conditions of Employment, Labour Relations and Labour Amendment Acts.

It is COSATU working with other federations that has successfully forced government and business into negotiations for a legislated National Minimum Wage and made sure that those who were hell-bent on undermining and ultimately killing the National Minimum Wage failed.

Labour Relations Amendment Act will see collective agreements extended to outsourced workers where unions are deemed sufficiently representative but not yet 51%.

The battle for NHI is on and the workers should ready themselves for a bruising battle ahead. There are worrying signs that government is capitulating to the private medical industry and is starting to water down the badly needed National Health Insurance {NHI

On the political front it is still worrying to see that our movement continues to be preoccupied with its internal challenges and continues to be caught up in a relentless partisan fighting and political gridlock. The immediate priority for the federation is to strengthen the alliance and contribute to the process of uniting and strengthening the African National Congress.

We recognise the fact that our nation is passing through a special period, which demands extraordinary dedication and urgency on the part of all social partners in defence of its founding principles. The task of rebuilding this country lies on all of us working together.

We also need to join hands in fighting the scourge of road accidents that are maiming and killing thousands of people every year. We urge motorists and pedestrians to ensure that they avoid drinking and driving and make sure that reckless driving is curbed during these holidays. We also urge all South Africans to fight against the scourge of violence against women and children.

As workers enjoy their holidays, they should also ready themselves for the battles that lie ahead and remember that both the centres of business and political power concede nothing without a demand and will give nothing away if a demand comes from a weak and divided constituency.We should also not forget to offer practical solidarity to vulnerable families, who have lost their livelihoods due to job losses.

We should share with the poor and remember that there are more than 8 million unemployed people in this country and they will be struggling to make ends meet during this period. The principles of unity and solidarity should continue to guide us, as we enjoy this festive holiday season.

Happy holidays to all South Africans and a happy new year.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794

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