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Shopsteward Volume 26 No. 1

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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU statement on the Competition Commission's findings against the banks

The Congress of South African Trade unions is appalled but not at all surprised by the Competition Commission's findings that seventeen {17} international banks, including Standard Bank, Absa and Investec, colluded with each other "on prices for bids, offers and bid offer spreads for the spot trades in relation to currency trading involving dollar currency pairs". "They also created fictitious bids and distorted demand and supply in order to achieve their profit motive", according to the commission. The federation has been saying for a long time that the alliance capitalism that holds sway in this country needs to be reigned in, if we are serious about economic transformation.

We spurn the phony outrage and the menacing noises coming from both government and political parties ,as nothing but self serving political theatre. It is dishonest for anyone to pretend as if this is the first time that the private sector has been found guilty of collusion and of engaging in economic sabotage. The monopolies dominating this economy have been bleeding the country dry ,and have even boldly and immorally fixed the price of bread in a country with over 35% real unemployment, 47% of the working poor and 17 million people on welfare.

Recently, the construction sector and the steel industry have also engaged in the same cartel behaviour with very little consequences. All that the construction companies needed to do, was to tell government that they were prepared to contribute R1, 5 billion for development projects ,and also committed to promote transformation and black participation and ownership in the sector ;and they were free to move on with their businesses.

The response from government and many of these political parties was that this is just an ugly and unacceptable face of capitalism, and all we needed to do was to save capitalism from capitalists. All these hysterical political parties are part of the legislative arm of the state ; they should have acted long ago to pass strict laws that will deal decisively with this collusion phenomenon if they were serious. They have done nothing to curb or do away with this economic vandalism.

We were promised amendments to South Africa's competition law , by the Economic Development department, that were supposed to ensure that top executives face jail time for colluding or taking part in cartel behaviour. This was nothing but camouflaged surrender dressed up in rhetorical sloganeering. The current penalty of 10% of annual company turnover is obviously ineffectual because these companies just budget for this money and carry on with their nefarious activities.

The Reserve Bank and the Treasury have also through their inaction colluded with these fiddlers, fixers and fraudsters that are ruining this country's economy. We have been calling for a state financial institution and the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank for a long time , but no one is prepared to listen. COSATU feels that this is just another case that confirms the immorality of capitalism and its festering greed. Unfortunately ,this is going to continue because it is perpetuated by the misdirected naivety and idealism of all those, who hold political power.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794- 082 558 5962
E-Mail: sizwe@cosatu.org.za

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