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Shopsteward Volume 26 No. 2

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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU KZN PEC Statement

COSATU KZN held a very successful PEC well attended by unions and Locals of COSATU in the Province on the 2nd December 2016.

This meeting of the Provincial Executive Committee followed the meeting of the Central Executive Committee

The PEC focused mostly and spent its time in dealing with building capacity of COSATU as an organization, socio economic challenges facing workers, campaigns and political developments. The Provincial Executive Committees noted with concern the unfavourable economic conditions in our country and worldwide.

The PEC also met amidst the passing of Cde Fidel Castro and the nine days of national mourning that Cuba had observed. The PEC appreciated the role played by the struggle hero and veteran of the struggle. Indeed we must remember what Fidel Castro said in his famous speech, "History will absolve me", a man who symbolised the last hope of a better world an alternative to the capitalist greed that has engulfed the world for centuries.

We also meet during the 16 days of activism against the abuse of women and children. It is our take that this must be a full annual campaign where all of us must ensure that we fight against this scourge that renders some men the skunk of the nation. We must stand up as men and say no, not in our name. No woman shall cry because of my own hands and my own actions. As much as our emphasis is on the violence against women and children, but as COSATU we further say any gender based violence must be fought with bare hands and no matter who is doing it. We have revived our Gender sub-structure which is tasked to pick up specific issues and champion through the leadership of COSATU.

Unemployment, our PEC sits at a time when the new statistics on unemployment have just been released. The gloomy picture they paint about the country's state of unemployment is a worrying one to us as workers, the new unemployment statistics shows the increase of 0,5%, from 26.6 % to 27.1%. Whilst our CEC make a genuine call for the urgent need of the Job Summit but we hold a view that we need to consider a number other initiatives aimed at saving our people from dying from hunger and poverty. COSATU intends to engage these in the next Economic Council Meeting scheduled for the coming Tuesday. It is our considered view that the high number of illegal employment, which is uncounted for, done by companies through the employment of foreign people and used to profit individual employers needs to be taken up. This has nothing to do with being xenophobic but it's all has to do with defending workers from exploitation and ensuring that employers do not profit unduly, and to protect our economy.

We must be critical of ourselves in building a strong campaigning federation. We have assessed and we are concerned that activism amongst the workers needs to be closely analysed. Workers are gradually paying for their membership but absent themselves from the federation or union activities. This is either they are working during activities, they are not aware of the activities or they have become despondent of the federation and our affiliated unions. This trend must be arrested before it critically kills our union.

On the 31st Anniversary, we would like to thank our alliance partners who came and celebrated with us at our historic home, Curries Fountain. It is crucial that we always fight for the unity of the alliance, building bridges and cementing relations all the time. This builds confidence amongst our members and leaders. The alliance played games and the final victor was the unity of the alliance.

On recruitment and organising, we must agree that we need to grow COSATU. As the economy starts to pick up we must also ensure that the federation is growing. We must mobilise all sectors in order to ensure that in all bargaining councils COSATU is the leader. We must also train our organisers and shop stewards to ensure that membership service is central in the organisational renewal strategy. Our members are the backbone of the unions and therefore we must ensure that we take their issues forward and they benefit because a COSATU union is the leader. This must aim at encouraging members to join unions of COSATU, address the issue of about 70% unorganized workers and the protection of vulnerable workers. The Province will spend the first month of 2017 on the drawing board dealing with how best workers can be organized and united under the Federation.

In a deep analysis as to why our members at this day in age still complain about the lack by our unions to service them, the PEC was of the view that if our unions are not servicing members the blame will always go to COSATU, and therefore urge the leadership of COSATU that though understand the challenge they face related to the autonomy of its affiliated unions, but it must rise above and call spade-a-spade and be decisive to condemn the wrong doing by some leaders of its unions.

The PEC said unions need to tighten up their administration and ensure that its machinery is up and running and everyone does
his or her duties.

As a way of closing social distance between leadership and membership, the PEC working together with Locals and all unions' structures commits to convene Listening Campaigns, which are forums attended by all workers in that locality in which PEC members and Local leadership will interact direct with members. This can only succeed if workers themselves are committed to attend these Listening Campaign meetings in numbers. Beyond this, COSATU urged its unions to convene more General meetings of members to be addressed jointly with COSATU leadership.

We will continue to fight for improved public transport and against E-tolls and Expensive Tollgates. There is a lot done to improve public transport, but the mistake this development normally leaves out the views of the most affected people, commuters. COSATU therefore resolved on the need to convene Commuters Indaba which will include ordinary people, to contribute on how best public transport could be improved. We have taken to street challenging concept Shesha Lanes which is same as E-Tolling system and the PEC resolved that we need to convene SANRAL to give feedback on our demands.

On labour brokers, we continue to mobilise and fight against labour brokerage. We believe that the practice is immoral and must be scrapped. All the role players including the state must ensure that they draft a clear programme as to by when they will have finished the use of labour brokers. The recent university protests have exposed these institutions who have brutalised a number of workers through employing them through labour brokers. COSATU has always in its Section 77 protests picked this issue, but we now of the view that it needs more intensification and our ANC must make a choice if it wants to continue presiding over the system that perpetually oppresses workers but as COSATU we have made our choice that our members could not continue to be exploited right under our noise. In saying this, the struggle against Labour Brokers will no longer be occasional but ongoing.

Our unions have been reminded to pick up cases on Section 198 of the LRA to be tested through court processes to prove the ongoing lack of compliance by employers and lack of capacity by the Department of Labour.

On the transformation of education, we believe the recent strikes in the name of feesmustfall must be contextualised. It exposed the youth movement as being disunited and disjointed. It showed lack of leadership or the failure of legitimacy from the PYA leadership structures in the institutions of learning. This leads to the movement appointing itself as the leader. Such could then be hard to control or negotiate with. It then targeted individuals and not the system of higher education. Factionalism and opportunism became the order of the day as anyone and everyone who wanted to score cheap political points came in and had their share in the legitimate demands of poor students. We therefore appeal to the state to take serious the work of the commission into the feasibility of free higher education as these will open doors for many poor students to access higher education. COSATU is involved at the level of the HRD and must push for the urgent sitting of the forum that consists VC'S, TVETS Student bodies, Parents, Government, Labour to sit to prepare for the next year intakes and deal with short, medium and long term solutions to the matter.

National health insurance is no longer a demand but a question of when. We are disappointing at the snail's pace of the rolling out of the NHI. We believe that it should have been at an advanced stage by now. The funding and the modalities should long have been finalised as many of our people still suffer in the silence of their corners failing to access quality health care. The audience will be sought with the MEC for DOH to call for the accountability by government on the implementation of the National Health Insurance.

On the Black Friday, we need to have ideological debate of this concept based on its background and as opposed to the current democratic South African state. Our main concern is the implication and meaning it has for the workers and the poor masses.

While the thorough research is pending, the PEC calls its unions to engage employers on the need to give some king of ex-gratia payment to workers who worked on this particular day. These are the workers especially in the retail industry such as clothing shops, superstores, restaurants and all affected workers who have multiplied their efforts to meet the demands of the employers and those of their clients.

Workers continue to engage COSATU as their last hope. The retrenchments in Rainbow Chicken, an engagement has started with the MEC for Economic Development and Agriculture.

Recent alliance summit, the PEC appreciated the fact that its last PEC resolution for the Alliance to hold its Alliance Summit was eventually realised. However it was disappointed by the fact that since then there has been no visible programme of the alliance in the Province and on the ground.

The PEC also took place after the frank ANC NEC that discussed whether Cde Zuma should be recalled. We have heard many versions of what may have transpired. Our belief is that the matter was raised in the correct structures of the organisation and it was exhausted there. Those who raised the matter had every right to be critical of the direction the organisation was taking. The final decision was the NEC collective which put the matter to rest and we believe that no one is the loser or the winner but the ANC is stronger.

The PEC was concerned about the ongoing political turmoil which continue to face our country, in the same vain it was also concerned about the new breed of revolutionary activists our movement is producing who are helpless instead are more dangerous and costly to the liberation struggle and the struggle for the total reversal of capitalism, a system that continues reproduce stinky poverty, unemployment and inequality in the society. As the workers we feel like we are on our own and our strong view is that as leaders of the working class we must build consciousness of the masses to liberate themselves. They have to be cautious of people who call themselves revolutionaries while their agenda is money driven, opportunistic and always tend to impress the master for deployment sake.

The Provincial Executive Committee asserted COSATU'S position to support and lobby within the ANC structures for the support of comrade Cyril Ramaphosa. We think COSATU'S view is a step to the right direction. We shall engage workers and comrades to engage us not with emotions but with sober minds on this question.

What COSATU is doing now is no difference from what we did in the build up to Polokwane, 2007 Conference of the ANC when the leadership clique who were the main drivers of the neoliberal agenda "so called 1996 class project" used all tricks in the book to isolate the then Deputy President, comrade Jacob Zuma. It has been always our understanding that this was a necessary step not because of the blind loyalty to an individual leader but a principle worthy to be defended.

In those years we were called names and labelled as COSATU and even now we know that there is still remnants of those who were insulting us, who have now been joined by the brutal forces, so intolerant of the contending views, those who are now view themselves as king makers, masters of the movement, who regard themselves as the only voice that must be heard.

Our message to our struggle hero, the veteran of umkhonto weSizwe, the worker activist and the communist, baba Riot Makomanisi Mkhwanazi and his family. As correctly put by Amilcar Cabral, "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it". They have played their role to free the South African society at a time when to be a struggle hero was not a fashion or status, but when struggling meant death, they did not have please certain leaders in order to get deployment or tender deals, but they struggled for the freedom of the masses of South Africa who had to face the wrath of the South African apartheid state naked. We are saying to him thank you for your sufferage and we are saying to his family thank you for giving him to us. We love, he loved us as workers and his spirit must live with us and guide us forward.

We also pass our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of comrade Sifiso Ncwane our Gospel Artist who have performed and entertained workers in many of our activities such as May Day celebrations and Anniversaries. We are saddened about his sudden death and we mourn together with the family as his was part of us. May his soul rest in peace

Many workers whom we have lost during this year and their family members, we say we will always remember them.Festive message from the Province of COSATU, The festive has began and this is the only time where many workers get some time to rest after a long year of hard work. To some of us, is the only time we get to enjoy ourselves in different ways, socialise with friends, take family out for shopping and for vacation, and this is because it is the only time some of us make extra cash due to bonuses. They must know that COSATU loves all of them and wish those that will be resting at homes a peaceful time together with their families. It is our wish that we enjoy responsible, everyone remain safe and we all come back to work refreshed and rejuvenated to build our economy and to take the our struggles forward

Edwin Mkhize (Provincial Secretary)

COSATU Kwa-Zulu/Natal
47 Joe Slovo Street
General Building
19th Floor Office 1902
Durban
4000

Tel: +27 010 219-1379 or 031 304-1690
Fax: +27 031 304-1822
Mobile: +27 82 399 7756
E-Mail: edwin@cosatu.org.za

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