3 December 2012
COSATU take this opportunity to congratulate the Public Services International for a very successful Congress recently concluded in Durban, South Africa. We salute the sterling work of the host affiliates, particularly our own affiliates; SAMWU, NEHAWU, DENOSA, SADNU and POPCRU, working together with the whole Africa region and all public sector unions on the continent, for making Africa proud in proving to the world that Africa has indeed come of age.
The African trade union movement, with our affiliates at the heart of it, are the driving force for the effective transformation of the PSI and the international trade union movement and nowhere was this proven than in the Durban Congress itself.
We also take this opportunity to congratulate and welcome the election of Rosa Panavelli, from our sister federation in Italy, the CGIL, for her election to become the General Secretary of PSI. Her election represents an important victory for working class women and for the progressive global movement in its entirety.
The success of any Congress is not measured by its colourfulness, but by the quality of its outcomes and their critical relevance to the most pressing questions facing the working class. In this regard, we believe the PSI Congress proved to be a great success as workers confronted several key questions.
Amongst these are issues of confronting neo-liberalism and its devastating effects on the public sector and service delivery, fighting labour broking and the privatisation of social services, building global unity of the international trade union movement by working with workers across federations and cold war divisions, strengthening international solidarity with workers and people suffering from dictatorship, occupation and abuse of human and workers rights in different parts of the world.
Resolutions on supporting the struggles of the peoples of Swaziland, DRC, Mali and Palestine stood out as amongst the most key solidarity matters.
The most contentious one was the one on Palestine, particularly the one on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign and the profound characterisation of Israel as an apartheid, which was historic, pace-setting and a giant step forward for trade unionists and activists of conscience all over the world.
It has turned upside down the warped logic of “balanced approach” and the apportioning of equal blame for the victim and aggressor as nothing but a blatant cover up for injustice, occupation and colonialism. Occupation is the source of all the violence and injustice in the Middle east and no amount of narrow politicking should be allowed to divert attention from that central fact. Israeli should withdraw and stop stealing the land of the Palestinians, murdering the women and children of Gaza, all in order to enforce the brutal occupation and colonisation of Palestine.
This resolution could not have come at a better time than now when the whole world was on the streets to commemorate the UN World day in solidarity with the people of Palestine, which was punctuated by the adoption of an upgraded status for the Palestinian state, which should only mark the beginning of a protracted and decisive global campaign to end the occupation, ensure the return of all Palestinian refugees and return the land to the people of Palestine.
The adoption of BDS as the only available peaceful form of global pressure in the face of a hopeless UN, which has and continues to, fail to call Israel and its patron, the US to account for their crimes against humanity in Gaza and the whole of Palestine, marks a point of no return for all compatriots in support of the struggling people of Palestine.
The growing global BDS movement is unstoppable and requires that all trade unions and other progressive social forces isolate all elements in support of the apartheid state of Israel, including Histandrut, which is complicit in the crimes carried out by the Israel state and the Israeli Defence force in particular. We call on the US unions and other such organisations to refuse to speak on behalf of their ruling classes, but denounce the illegal military and political support of Israel by the US and its allies. The working class must support the poor and suffering wherever they are and not act as agents of their ruling classes.
Once again, COSATU looks forward to working with PSI and the global trade union movement to take forward these concrete outcomes as the most critical step towards a new and just world order free from the shackles of exploitation, poverty and injustice.
Bongani Masuku (International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 or +27 10 219-1335
Fax: +27 11 339-5080
Mobile: +27 79 499 6419