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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

Final version of COSATU end of year statement

23 December 2015

The Congress of South African Trade Unions wishes all its members and the workers in general a restful and happy holiday season and a successful and happy new year. We wish all of them safe traveling on trains, planes and on the roads and also caution them against engaging in alcohol abuse and unnecessary expenditure during this period. The carnage on our roads is mostly as a result of alcohol abuse and the high rate of indebtedness is usually caused by the excessive expenditure during this period.

The year 2015 was a very complicated one for the workers in general and for the federation in particular. We saw our economy shedding jobs, levels of inequality continuing to rise and more people getting afflicted by the deepening poverty.

This year signified the end to the four year paralysis that was imposed on the federation by the internal rebellion. The ideological, political and strategic rupture that had been simmering within the federation finally came to a head with the federation acting decisively to protect its founding principles of democratic centralism and collective decision making.

These decisions were taken in order to avoid a potential split and paralysis that was threatening the survival of the federation.

Workers took it upon themselves to restore discipline, democratic centralism, unity and cohesion in their federation. They laid the foundations for a lasting solution to the challenges of unity and cohesion facing the federation in the convened Special National Congress and consolidated that task in the recently held 12th National Congress.

The federation defied all doomsayers by not only taking decisive steps to protect its unity and cohesion; it also never abandoned its founding principles of worker control and democracy. During the same period, it managed to convene nine {9} provincial congresses and two national congresses to allow workers to decide and map the way forward for their organisation. Workers used these congresses to reiterate their commitment to building a campaigning, class-oriented, uniting, modern, democratic and independent internationalist trade union movement.

Politically, we also saw a developing and worrying state of weakness and incoherence within the revolutionary alliance. Whilst, there was convergence within the ANC-led Alliance around the need for fundamental transformation in the second phase. This has largely remained true only in theory but lacking on content and practical proposals.The proposals of the Alliance summit that demanded the review of the economic and labour chapters of the National Development Plan, were not implemented.

The Treasury continued with its conservative macro-economic framework. This saw an emboldened treasury unilaterally deciding to cancel all vacant posts in the public service, committing itself to privatise some “non-strategic” state’s assets and then subsequently refusing to give public service workers decent wage increases. They went ahead with the implementation of the Taxation Amendment Act of 2013 that gave them power to dictate the terms over the worker’s pension funds.

While, they ultimately relented and released the white paper of the National Health Insurance, they are still refusing to present the long awaited Comprehensive Social Security paper, even after the ANC NGC instructed them to do so.

We still do not have a state pharmaceutical company and a state mining company. There has been no effort on the side of government to nationalise Sasol and Arcellor Mittal and the conversion of Post Bank into a state bank is yet to take place. This points to a real possibility of our envisaged radical second phase not only becoming diluted but getting derailed.

Monopoly Capital got emboldened and most companies sacrificed workers to protect their profits during this ongoing economic downturn. They defiantly refused to put a moratorium on retrenchments and are still continuing with their investment strike. We are also still witnessing alarming capital flight with companies continuing to illegally take their money out of the country and selling their stakes to international conglomerates risking both jobs and the contributions to the fiscus.

We saw the re-emergence of load shedding that seriously undermined the growth potential of the economy and threatened jobs. There was also a period of drought that exposed our country’s vulnerability to water scarcity. Agricultural sector jobs were compromised and some of them were lost.

Unfortunately all of this is happened at a time, when the organised workers’ component of the working class is at its weakest organisationally and politically. This means that there is a lot of work ahead for the workers in the coming year. Workers need to prepare themselves for the daunting task of building working class power in the work place, communities and all other strategic centres of power including in the ANC itself. We also have the upcoming 2016 Local government elections to prepare for.

Workers must be ready to intensify campaigns against e-tolls, labour broking, and for the implementation of a minimum wage and other pressing socioeconomic issues. But the key to the radical second phase of the transition is a shift away from the current macroeconomic framework. The scourge of corruption and the excessive reliance on private sector consultancies will continue to weaken our state. All of these issues need a strong COSATU and a united working class. We have seen the successes that can be achieved by unity as evidenced by the unity of the student worker alliance during the nationwide student anti fees protests.

We recognise the fact that our federation is passing through a special period, which demands extraordinary dedication and urgency on the part of all our structures and affiliates in defence of our federation. The task of rebuilding COSATU lies at the hands of the workers.

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 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.

Long Live COSATU, Long Live!

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions

110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street

Braamfontein

2017

P.O.Box 1019

Johannesburg

2000

South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339

Mobile: 060 975 6794

E-Mail: sizwe@cosatu.org.za

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