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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Congress  |  Discussion

Consolidating COSATU for the New Millenium

Draft Discussion Document

COSATU Congress `99

Table of Contents


  1. Recruitment
  2. Election of Shop Stewards
  3. Shop Steward Training
  4. Build First and Second Layer Leadership
  5. Focus on Staff Training
  6. Campaigns
  1. Taking Forward the 6th National Congress Resolution on Gender
  2. Media Strategy - Selling Unions to the Public Better
  3. Information Technology and Renewing COSATU beyond 2000
  4. Resources



  1. The Central Executive Committee held on the 29 - 30 March 1999 decided that the Special National Congress to be held on the 18 - 20 August 1999 should deal with three main issues - election of the National Office Bearers, launch of a campaign for the consolidation of COSATU for the next millenium, and the Alliance programme.

  2. The campaign for the consolidation of COSATU for the next millenium consists of two main issues - the organisational; and education and training.

  3. The campaign is not an attempt to generate new organisational policy for the federation. We believe that the 6th National Congress as well as the recommendations of the September Commission should form the basis of this campaign. Further the 1998 Central Executive Committee adopted a three year programme of action which we are in the process of implementing and the strategies which we are putting to the Congress are intended to ensure the full implementation of that programme.

  4. What is different is that we are consolidating all of these into a single, coherent and integrated campaign in a focused way in order to maximise the impact.

  5. The campaign itself will run for eleven months into the 7th National Congress where an evaluation shall be made. Thereafter another three- (3) year programme based on the foundations of this Special National Congress shall be developed culminating into the 8th National Congress in 2003.

  6. The mistake we should not commit is to bite off more than we can chew. Our programme should be resourced properly. Where our own resources become limited we should clearly state that though we are willing to implement our plan we are unable to allocate resources. The Central Executive Committee scheduled for 12 - 14 October 1999 is an important occasion where we should determine this.


  1. This is a resolution of the 6th National Congress that instructed the CEC to develop a detailed plan that will focus on all affiliates which are less than 50% in the industries they organise. Big establishments where we have less than fifty-percent membership should be identified by affiliates as targeted workplaces. The intention is that all the elements of a plan be worked upon between now and the Special Congress. This will allow the Special Congress to adopt a detailed plan instead of attempting to plan itself. The February 1999 Executive Committee decided that we target the month of September 1999 for this campaign.

  2. The first phase of the recruitment campaign kicked off in 1998 and laid out a foundation for growth in COSATU. The autumn offensive campaign saw the massive recruitment of over 50,000 new members. Besides the growth in numbers we have also used the campaign to rebuild COSATU structures in some regions and locals.

  3. In the assessment of last year’s campaign we identified strengths and weaknesses. We want to focus only on the weaknesses with the aim of correcting and avoiding them in the future. They are:

  • Lack of resources such as human and transport
  • Lack of proper co-ordination between regions and the teams.
  • Non-inclusion of the alliance partners in some regions.
  • Unevenness of the launch of the campaign in the different regions.
  • The failure of some affiliates to do follow ups and service the new members.
  • A poor preparation by some affiliates (packages for the recruitment such as stop-order forms, propaganda materials on benefits provided for members, etc.)
  • Many organisers simply did not know which areas and workplaces to target
  • Lack of cooperation by some unions
  • Newly recruited members were dumped because there was no plan from affiliates to consolidate the gains made during this process.
  1. We need to learn from this initial 1998 programme in order to do the September 1999 recruitment drive better.

  2. In preparation for a successful recruitment drive in September 1999 the following needs to be put in place prior to the commencement of the programme:

Collection of data detailing the following:

  • Priority targets - this should include unorganised workplaces, workplaces organised by other unions not affiliated to COSATU, workplaces not fully organised and should also target white workers, white collar workers, temporary/ casual / contract workers. The matter of temporary/casual/contract workers raises an important policy question. Currently we do not have detailed policy on this growing category of workers. Their issues do not always feature in our collective bargaining structures and we are not clear on whether we should be organising them or not. The Special Congress, informed by the research NALEDI did for SACCAWU, should also develop a policy on how to organise these workers. We expect every union to know the following on the basis of their own work and research. This information should be provided to the Organising Secretary.
  • Density of membership in each sector
  • The potential growth in areas and regions
  • The affiliate’s internal recruitment programmes
  • Benefits offered to members

The provision of resources in the following areas:

  • Personnel shop stewards paid time-off (paid time off should be arranged) and full-time release of officials
  • The resources should include cars, petrol, media packages, food, accommodation, etc.


All affiliates should be encouraged to conduct shop stewards elections in the same year that they prepare for their National Congresses. Secondly, affiliates must change the term of office for shop stewards so that it is the same as that of National Office Bearers. The election should be a well-publicised event, with media and education support, to get members prepared for this important workplace occasion.

This campaign should help affiliates develop a comprehensive database of the exact number of shop stewards they have. This in turn will assist affiliates to better plan for the training of their shop stewards.


One thing very clear is that we can no longer regard the three basic shop stewards manuals we developed during the FOSATU times as adequate. The challenges of the new millenium demands that we extend this beyond drilling shop stewards only on recognition agreements and union constitutions.

Below are some of the issues that we should train stewards on:

  • Workplace democracy
  • Workplace reorganisation
  • Elements of industrial policy
  • Collective bargaining issues including basic issues such as reading a pay slip, tax deductions, sectoral agreements, collection of demands, etc.
  • Labour market with focus on new laws (LRA, BCEA, Skills Act, Employment Equity Act, Health and Safety and Environment laws)
  • Politics including the NDR, socialism
  • Policy formulation process and membership involvement.

The task of NEDCOM, in particular the Education Officers of all affiliates should be to develop generic courses that can be used by all affiliates for this training. Each affiliate should however develop a course on those issues that are particular to their industries and workplaces. This includes questions related to industry and collective bargaining.


4.1. Second layer leadership

There can be no doubt that for year now we have neglected the conscious effort to develop the second layer of leadership. The result is that in the long term we will begin to get undeveloped and untrained people from this core into the national level.

We propose that a menu of courses be developed for this area of education. Below are some of the areas that we should train our local, branch, regional and provincial leadership on.

  • Policy formulation and involvement of membership
  • Organisational management
  • Basic socio-economic issues
  • Gender politics
  • Politics - NDR and socialism

4.2 First layer leadership

There is also little training taking place for this layer of leadership! We assume that once a person is elected into a national position he/she no longer requires training and development. This we do at our own peril.

We propose that the CEC and EXCO be divided into portfolio committees focusing on the main issues that the Federation is involved in. This should include:

  1. An economics commission. This core should focus on broad macro-economic issues, including the Public Finance and Monetary chamber’s agenda. This should be a specialised unit and should deal with among other things, the following:
  • Basic training on political economy and economics
  • Advanced training on economics and finance, i.e. training on budgetary issues
  • Analyse economic trends in the world and how South Africa’s economy features

Special focus on:

  • Macro economic policies of developing nations
  • Macro economic policy and its effect on employment

Basic training on:

  • Balance of payment issues e.g. current and capital issues
  • Currency fluctuation related issues, e.g. Rand versus Dollar, Euro versus Dollar etc.
  • Issues of inflation/deflation and their effect on the standard of living for society especially workers and the poor.
  • Need to link with NIEP and NALEDI to help effect the above.
  • Need to draw full time shop stewards with potential into the commission
  1. A Labour Market Commission. Need to establish a core team beyond the labour market chamber delegates. It will need specialised training on:
  • ILO Conventions
  • All labour market legislation in South Africa

The key role is to defend these pieces of legislation from attack by those wanting to reverse our gains. The commission would need to liaise with Department of Labour inspectorate to check application of these laws and the extent to which they are compromised.

  1. Trade and Industry core/commission. This core should focus on the following key questions and provide solutions to these:
  • What is industrial policy
  • What is trade policy
  • Link between the two
  • Workplace challenge
  • Productivity
  • Role of technology
  1. International Affairs commission. This committee should receive training on issues such as our bilateral relations, ICFTU, SATUCC, OATUU as well as WTO, UN, etc.

  2. A committee on internal relations focusing on political engagement with the Alliance and Mass Democratic Movement.

  3. A committee on gender affairs, which will assist in developing a political content to our women empowerment, programmes.

    We therefore propose that a menu of courses be developed for this layer as well. This should include training on the same issues as the second layer leadership with the difference that more advanced courses shall be developed. This should include special training through technikons and universities. The specialisation training should not be limited to the national leadership. People with potential for further education should be identified in every region.

    In addition to the above paragraph we propose that the CEC and the CEC sub committee on international affairs should develop its understanding on how the international institutions function and how they can be used to advance the workers agenda.

    This can be done in the form of workshops and seminars and or diploma and university degrees tailor-made for this purpose.

  • SADC – how it operates and its various sub-structures
  • OAU - how it operates and its various sub-structures
  • UN – how it operates and its various organs
  • ILO – how it operates and its various structures
  • Bretton Woods structures and how they operate
  • The international trade union movement and its various components
  • The multi-lateral and bilateral trade agreements South Africa has negotiated, or is negotiating.
  • Relationship with the DTI and DFA


Our main weakness in this area is that outside the collective bargaining, arbitration, organisational management and a few others there is not focussed training of staff in the federation. For example, when we employ an organiser we do not spend resources to make him/her a better organiser.

Very soon (2000) all unions shall belong to a SEATA and pay a 0.5% levy and ultimately a 1% levy for staff training. The question is what will present in a SEATA as a menu of courses for our staff and what training provider we shall use.

The NEDCOM should begin now to develop a menu of courses that we shall use to train staff. This menu should include all broad categories such as administration, finances, organising, collective bargaining, education and training, media, gender, etc.

The Education structures to take the strategy forward.

Capacity and resources

  • We have developed some internal capacity as COSATU to run programmes. Some affiliates have also developed this capacity. The person-power that makes-up our membership and our leadership has not been used to the best effect – for example some of our worker leaders at regional and national level would be excellent educators, and should be developed and utilised
  • Almost all affiliates have education structures and full-time education officers. The major problem is the lack of a committed budget to run programmes. Secondly, educators often do not work in a supportive environment where they are able to develop effective strategies and programmes. Although, on the whole, there is a reasonable amount of education work carried out in the federation, the capacity varies enormously from one affiliate to the other. Some affiliates have well –developed programmes reaching most of their members, while others provide only on an ad hoc basis when resources become available.
  • A detailed breakdown of affiliates’ capacity should be researched – a base document by Ditsela already exists – and will be presented to the Special National Congress
  • We have also established an institution - Ditsela - that provides a wide range of formal courses for trade union officials. It also provides support to unions and federations in their own education and training programmes. The pool of educators in this institute can play an important role in delivery for different levels and purposes.
  • We have also developed additional networks with Local Service Organisations that have been providing trade union education in the country.
  • The above-mentioned survey by Ditsela of education provision in the federation carried out last year, identified the training of stewards and organisers as a critical need. Again, though, this is not the same for all affiliates.
  • We should use the research done by NALEDI and SWOP to assist us in the development of effective education and training programmes.

    What kind of programmes?

  • Our programmes must reach all members and we will have to consider the means to arrive at this level in a creative way. The use of popular culture like theatre and music should be on our agenda. We should also not only restrict ourselves to print media but also begin to use other media such as radio and cassettes.
  • Political education should be the central pivot of our education programme, and should be included in all our courses
  • The role of COSATU needs to be clarified and agreed upon in terms of intervening in affiliates that encounter problems. This should not be a flash in the pan engagement but take into consideration the extent of the problem and the appropriate means to assist.
  • We should also have programmes that reach out to the broader society. This should form part of the function of local leaders on person to person level, and we should try to reach the ordinary citizen through our own and the national media. It might mean upgrading our media facilities and capacity
  • The sustainability of this programme is important - whatever training we do must have a long-term reach, as it is linked to building organisation.
  • Our programme should include and integrate with organisational programmes such as the September 1999 recruitment campaign, where we use education for recruitment, and follow up on newly recruited membership with an education programme.
  • COSATU Education must provide training for its office bearers and its constitutional structures. This could involve liaising with tertiary institutions to provide tailor-made courses, as well as playing a supportive role for affiliates and regions. It has also been decided that this role will include material development capacity and a library of manuals to be accessed by our structures in all relevant areas.
  • The Education Conference of 1996 arrived at a decision regarding the role that should be played by affiliates, COSATU and Ditsela respectively. Affiliates should take responsibility for the training and induction of all new staff, and develop an understanding of the sector concerned at a higher level. The 6th National Congress resolved that 10% of subs should be set aside for education.
  • COSATU Education should support affiliates in their education programmes, as well as develop materials to assist. In addition COSATU could provide generic courses for organisers and staff, and co-ordinate delivery.
  • Ditsela is supposed to play a supportive role to the development of the labour movement. We also suggested that they deliver courses at a higher level and that their courses would largely be accredited.
  • This decision on levels of provision has not been implemented – and Ditsela has done a large amount of the provision that affiliates and COSATU should have done themselves – largely due to lack of capacity and resources (the education budget in COSATU has been getting progressively smaller each year)
  • The issue of accreditation of trade union education is still being discussed in the NEDCOM and in Ditsela, with the view to arrive at a comprehensive policy framework. Currently there is a degree of consensus that accreditation is necessary for particular levels and types of courses, and it may be that it is largely Ditsela courses that will be accredited.

    Implementation plan

  • We will use COSATU, Ditsela and other tertiary institutions to develop and deliver courses for the portfolio committees of EXCO, as well as other programmes on management and OD. The courses will be tailor-made for trade union leadership.
  • We should also look at exchange programme for sabbaticals. Leaders that go that route have to sign with the federation in terms of their commitment to plough-back what they have gained once they finish their tuition.
  • Mentorships are also one area that we have not looked into - experienced leadership is not playing any role to assist the new officials to develop. We need a system where national leaders consciously and systematically assist new leadership to develop.
  • The SACP and ANC will be drawn in to run a politics course for CEC.
  • The training in the regions should be led by COSATU and be given a six months span from September, to have reached each and every new and untrained steward.
  • Work can begin as soon as possible on developing material for the advanced courses so that training on these can begin soon after September – targeting stewards who have had basic training in whatever form.
  • Some affiliates are already busy with comprehensive steward training – we should not attempt to replace or duplicate this, rather coordinate efforts from COSATU level so that some of the training will take place in affiliates but will all be part of the same campaign and programme.
  • We should also have local office bearer’s development programme that ensures that the locals of COSATU are vibrant. Office bearers courses will continue to be run for locals as well as political education and legislation training which began during 1998.
  • The civic education training can be included in this to increase capacity for engagement with local government.
  • The society and youth out-reach programme should be part of this programme. It should also be part of recruiting young workers into the labour movement as workers.



The jobs and poverty campaign is divided into the following categories:

6.1.1 Job Creation

The Federation must ensure that the decisions of the job summit are implemented without delay. Issues that require further negotiations should be taken up at the Alliance level and through the process of drafting an Alliance programme or a government five-year programme.

Linked to this is the One Day Wage contribution and its successful implementation. One question members are asking is whether this was a once-off campaign. In the pursuant discussion many suggestions have been made including suggestions on how the current contribution can be used to sustain itself. This is a policy matter the Special Congress should pronounce on.

6.1.2 Job Retention

There is no doubt that job losses have been severe. Figures released by the quarterly reports of the Reserve Bank and by the Statistics Services confirm this. The irony is that the Federation has not campaigned in any visible way to highlight and oppose these retrenchments. This must end with this Special National Congress. A massive campaign should be launched targeting individual workplaces intending to retrench workers through industrial area committees and locals.

The Special National Congress should advance the commitment made by the Minister of Labour and the ANC election manifesto to amend section 189 of the Labour Relations Act in order to make retrenchments a mandatory negotiations matter instead of a matter for consultation.

The indications that jobs in the Public Sector will be cut soon after the elections will not only demoralise the workers but will also add to the numbers of the unemployed and COSATU should vigorously campaign against this action.

6.1.3 Poverty

The report commissioned by the Deputy President as well as the Poverty Hearings organised by SANGOCO reminded us of a need to have a focused campaign, highlighting the plight of millions trapped in poverty. The inaugural Central Committee resolution in this regard serves as a useful framework for the campaign.

6.1.4 Health, safety and environment

Detailed COSATU policy on health and safety is being developed and put into a single document. This is to ensure that all laws on health and safety are put into a single Act.

There is a noticeable decline in interest in taking this matter up organisationally. We are no longer commemorating important disaster dates such as Kinross and Vaal Reefs. And yet our members continue to die of accidents and many continue to be exposed to dangerous substances

6.1.5 HIV/AIDS

The framework policy adopted by the 29 - 30 March CEC serves as a useful start to a more coordinated campaign. This framework is attached.

  • COSATU activities and those taking place at affiliate level should be integrated into a cohesive programme which should be coordinated at COSATU head office level. This will allow maximisation of the impact of the campaign.
  • The Shopsteward Magazine should continue to have a focus on this crisis.
  • Work in the most vulnerable sections of the working class such as transport workers and workers in the single sex hostels should be intensified.
  • As part of fighting the silence of those who are carrying the HIV/AIDS virus, COSATU should encourage its leadership and members to voluntarily take HIV/AIDS test and break silence. A new culture of openness must be encouraged, including encouraging parents to talk openly to their children, friends and relatives about this epidemic and the need to use condoms.
  • The meeting noted that many people will not come forward and declare their status as a result of the discrimination people are subjected to by the insurance companies and the stigma HIV/AIDS still carries in society. In this regard it condemned the killing of the HIV/AIDS activist who publicly announced that she was carrying the disease in KwaZulu Natal.
  • A more detailed COSATU policy must be developed and put into a single document. Such a policy must also relate to the bigger question imposed by the epidemic given our poor social security net. COSATU must carry out a study on the socio-economic impact the epidemic will have on the country. This should be linked to issue of affordability and availability of drugs such as AZT that prolong the life of those carrying the disease.

6.1.6 Living Wage Campaign

The campaign should be revived. We should move away from solidarity statements to a meaningful solidarity action. The Federation should coordinate this campaign. This can only happen if the Federation establishes a structure that will be used to plan and execute a strategy developed by the constitutional structures. For this, affiliates have to play a meaningful role during the process. This includes ensuring that the coordinating structures have all the relevant information from affiliates.

The campaign should allow a situation where we are able to announce the key issues that affiliates shall be fighting for in a year or during a negotiation round. This should include evaluation and planning for the next round of negotiations.


7.1 On measurable targets

In discussing this resolution, the attention of the National Special Congress is drawn to the following areas:

  1. Guidelines for strategies to increase women’s representation in leadership have been identified as follows for consideration by Congress:
  • Additional ex-officio positions on constitutional structures
  • Portfolio positions
  • Reserved seats for women
  • Deputy Secretary position at regional and local level
  • Proportional representation
  • Targeting women for education programmes
  1. A specific programme targeting women on the ground is proposed as follows:

    Each COSATU region should target one local as a pilot where each affiliate will forward 10 women (local office bearers or shop stewards) to participate in an empowerment programme designed for a specific period.

  2. The National Congress to be held in the year 2000 must be used as a measuring stick to monitor the progress made. Affiliates are expected to continuously forward data to the NGC and NALEDI on progress made.

  3. The entire 1997 National Congress Resolution on Women must be taken on board in the process of consolidating the organisation.

  4. A specific campaign that deliberately focuses on the election of women in shop steward positions should be embarked upon.

  5. Gender related education programmes would be run in conjunction with the Education Department.

1. Increasing women’s representation in leadership

1.1 Unions should submit reports on their plans for 1999 and assessment of 1998 regarding the implementation of the resolution.

The following would be required as part of the report:

1.1.1 Plans for 1999 on the following:

  • Strategies for increasing women’s representation in leadership structures
  • Education and empowerment programmes for women
  • Education for union members on understanding gender
  • Strategies for electing women shop stewards
  • Implementation of system of electing women as alternate shop stewards
  • Inclusion of women in delegations

1.1.2 Assessment of 1998

  • What progress has been made on increasing women’s representation in leadership structures?
  • What strategies have been employed to increase women’s representation in leadership structures?
  • What programmes have been held to educate and empower women?
  • Has there been gender training for union members (men and women)?
  • What progress has been made on electing women shop stewards?
  • Have there been any campaigns or strategies to elect women?
  • Has the union implemented the proposed election of alternate shop stewards?
  • How has the union progressed with the inclusion of women in delegations to meetings, congresses, conferences and workshops?

    Attention: A summarised version of the above will be submitted to the Special Congress as part of the input for the "consolidation of COSATU for the next millenium campaign" report for discussion and adoption.

1.2 Guidelines for strategies to increase women’s representation in leadership

This section provides a brief overview of some of the mechanisms that have been used by COSATU unions to increase women’s leadership. The emphasis is on developing a range of complementary strategies that build upon each other in the spirit of the 6th National Congress resolution. The following are possible mechanisms that unions should consider implementing (many of which have been adopted by some unions).

  • Additional ex-officio positions on constitutional structures
  • Unions can include women on constitutional structures through the use of ex-officio positions. This enables women to be exposed to these structures and to participate in union decision-making. SACCAWU has two ex-officio positions on each of the RECs and LECs comprised of gender coordinators (worker and official). These ex-officio representatives also attend COSATU constitutional structures as part of the SACCAWU delegation. SACCAWU combines the strategy of ex-officio representation with an empowerment programme and gender-focused campaigns and collective bargaining.

  • Portfolio positions
  • Some unions (e.g. SADTU) have portfolio positions on their national, provincial, regional and local executive structures. This extends the leadership base at these levels beyond office bearer positions and potentially creates space for additional seats that can be occupied by women. The drawback of this strategy is that firstly most portfolio positions have tended to be occupied by men (apart from the gender convenor) and secondly, the portfolio positions do not form part of the Office Bearers.

  • Reserved seats for women
  • Unions could decide to earmark certain positions for women on executive structures. This mechanism could be combined with a mentorship programme. The reserved seats could either be additional seats or office bearer positions. In the implementation of this mechanism it would be important to ensure that women are not locked permanently to these less powerful positions.

  • Deputy Secretary position at regional and local levels
  • Some unions (e.g. SADTU) have Deputy Secretaries at regional level. This position could potentially be used as a reserved seat for women in order to develop women leadership. The drawbacks are similar to those mentioned above, that is relegating women to deputising positions only.

  • Quota system
  • Fixed quota:
    Some unions have adopted quota systems e.g. NEHAWU 50%; SATAWU 20% by 2001; CEPPWAWU 25% and SAMWU 30%. The key feature of a quota system is that the union adopts a fixed percentage for the representation of women in constitutional structures, meetings and education programmes. The positive feature of this strategy is that it enables women to be represented directly in office bearer positions, whereas other strategies mentioned here create additional positions. A central challenge is the effective implementation of the quota. Nevertheless it has been largely successful in a number of unions internationally, provided it is combined with other strategies. It is particularly important that the unions implement mechanisms to create a supportive environment for women leaders.

  • Proportional representation:
  • This approach sets the target for women’s representation in leadership structures according to the proportion of women members in the union or federation. The benefit of this approach is that it reflects the true composition of the union membership. The drawback is that in male dominated sectors women’s leadership will remain at a low level.

  • Targeting women for education programmes
  • Many unions have acknowledged the fact that the proportion of women in education programmes tends to be extremely low. The disproportionately low percentages of women in education programmes have also been highlighted by DITSELA. The Congress resolution commits the federation and affiliates to ensuring that women participate in such programmes. Having reflected upon the low levels of women’s participation in basic shop stewards training, SACCAWU took a decision at the end of 1998 that 60% of delegates to shop stewards training should be women. Other unions should consider establishing mechanisms to ensure that a certain proportion of women are targeted and included in education programmes. In this way a cadreship of women shop stewards and union leadership can be built.

1.3 Campaign on electing women shop stewards

COSATU and affiliates to embark on a high profile campaign to ensure that women are elected as shop stewards. The following are possible elements to such campaigns:

  • COSATU to produce publicity and leaflets highlighting the importance of electing women as shop stewards
  • Organisers to circulate lists of women that are available to stand as shop stewards
  • Unions to establish a mentorship system in which women are elected as alternates

1.4 Establish a process for the collection of information

A range of information is needed for the accurate monitoring and assessment of progress. Some aspects can be collected immediately; others require a longer-term process. A task team should be set up through the COSATU Secretariat and the NGC to discuss information systems and the collection of information for COSATU. The following are the areas of information required:

  • Gender breakdown of membership
  • Women’s leadership at the following levels:
  1. National – NOBs, NEC and CEC delegates
  2. Regional – ROBs and RECs
  3. Local – LOBs and LECs
  4. Shop stewards
  • Attendance at National Congresses, Regional Congresses, Conferences, Education, Shopsteward Councils
  • Gender profile of union staff

1.5 Monitoring and implementation

The National Gender Committee, affiliate gender coordinators and the COSATU Secretariat should be tasked with a monitoring role and should report on progress to the CEC.

2. Political Programme

The political programme is intended as an integrated strategy to complement measures to increase women’s representation in leadership through the empowerment of women workers and women leadership. The political programme should focus on a range of areas including campaigns, education, building dynamic gender structures and taking up gender struggles in society. The overall aim of the political programme is the empowerment of women in the trade unions and raising consciousness of both men and women throughout the Federation. The following section presents a proposed programme for 1999.

2.1 Education programme

2.1.1 Education and training programme targeting local office bearers, local executive committee members and women shop stewards or workers

COSATU Regional Educators to coordinate an empowerment programme for women. Educators and National Gender Committee should hold a strategising meeting where a programme is drawn up. COSATU should explore the possibility of obtaining additional funding for this programme.

  • Each COSATU region should target one local as a pilot where each affiliate will forward 10 women (Local office bearers or shop stewards) to participate in the programme
  • Each of the delegates will be required to attend the COSATU local
  • Each of the delegates to attend basic shop steward training by the affiliate (or other relevant courses)
  • The Regional Educator will organise a series of topical discussion forums
  • The region will hold gender training workshops

2.1.2 Regional/National gender training for men

COSATU National Education Department should host a workshop for leadership on building awareness of gender issues. The February EXCO made a commitment to this programme following the failure of the programme in 1998.

2.1.3 Regional Women’s Leadership training

COSATU National Education Department to plan women’s leadership programme targeting women leaders at regional level.

2.1.4 Discussion forums for gender coordinators and leadership

The COSATU National Gender Department and NALEDI should plan a series of discussion forums for gender coordinators and leadership. The series should focus on topical issues and challenges facing the labour movement and integrating a gender perspective. The forums should draw on research and experiences within and outside of the labour movement.

2.2 Building gender structures

The building of gender structures is an important strategy for building activity and struggle amongst women at shopfloor level.

NALEDI will embark on research on the effectiveness of gender structures from March to June 1999. The research project should utilise participatory research methods to ensure that the research process is used as a means to rebuild structures and develop proposals and strategies to assist in building dynamic and vibrant ‘workplace engines’. The NGC will prioritise the building of gender structures as an important element of the political programme and as an important linkage with education and campaigns.

2.3 Taking up gender and workplace struggles in society

Part of building workers’ movement involves taking up struggles that empower and conscientise women workers. The transformation of our society requires that we take up concrete struggles that build worker power and challenge patriarchal and capitalist relations. This is an extremely important element of the political programme, since women’s emancipation is not only about representation and structures but it is fundamentally about transforming power relations through basic struggles.

It is proposed that COSATU embark on a parental rights campaign drawing in other organisations and groups in society.

The campaign should focus on childcare facilities

The campaign should aim to achieve the following:

  • highlight the responsibility of the state and employers in the provision of childcare
  • build on and deepen gains that have been made in legislation
  • take up the Jobs Summit Agreement on an investigation into childcare facilities
  • struggle for parental rights in collective agreements

This campaign should form a central component of the building of a national women’s movement that focuses on issues of concern to working class, poor and rural women.

It is further proposed that the campaign focus for the year 2000 should be Anti-Sexual Harassment.

3. Strategies to overcome barriers to women’s participation in unions and in leadership positions

The following are the key barriers to women’s participation in unions, as identified through research undertaken internationally, NALEDI research and through discussions in gender structures in the federation. This should be taken as a guideline and unions should identify particular barriers in their own structures and specific contexts.

3.1 Identified barriers:

  • Gender division of labour in the home
  • Women’s disproportionate burden of family responsibilities and domestic labour means that women have double workload and therefore find it difficult to take on additional responsibilities in the union. Furthermore, male partners are often not supportive of women’s activism, and in some cases hostile to it.

    The impact of family responsibilities on women’s participation is confirmed by a study in the UK that showed that the age profile of women shop stewards was made up disproportionately by young women without children and older women whose children have grown up.

  • Nature of shop-steward work and Accessibility of meetings
  • Shopsteward and union work is extremely demanding, requiring a significant time commitment. Meetings are often held after working hours which is inconvenient for women, since they remain the primary caregivers for children.

  • Stereotypes about gender roles
  • Some union members and leadership (and broader society) often have fixed attitudes about women’s roles. In many cases they do not see women as ‘natural leaders’. This contributes to women not having confidence in themselves and not being supported and encouraged as worker leaders. Furthermore, women tend not to be exposed to union processes and politics to the same extent that male union members are. Thus, these stereotypes about "a woman’s place" often contribute to discouragement and discrimination directed at women in unions.

  • "Masculine" union culture
  • Unions tend to be characterised by male-domination in union culture and practice. This takes the form of women not being taken seriously, or being relegated to boring and unrewarding jobs, women being ignored or made invisible, "lip-service" to gender issues, lack of real understanding of women’s experiences and a general lack of sensitivity to women’s particular organisational needs.

  • Sexual Harassment
  • Many women are completely discouraged from union activity since they are immediately ‘approached’ by male comrades and feel that they are not treated as comrades but as sex objects. In many cases women are reluctant to report cases of sexual harassment because they are usually blamed or not taken seriously.

3.2 Strategies to overcome barriers to women’s participation

The following are a few of the strategies that could be combined with other approaches mentioned in this proposal:

  • Childcare at meetings
  • Transport at meetings
  • Timing of meetings
  • Challenge stereotypes about women as leaders
  • Develop mentorship programmes
  • Create a supportive and encouraging environment
  • Implement Sexual Harassment Policy
  • Education on gender issues
  • Leadership training


1. Introduction

1. The media strategy will seek to communicate the views, positions, aims and objectives of the federation to workers and society in general. It is assumed that out of this will arise new attitudes and eventually behavioral change in society,

1.1 From this is implied that our image and the extent to which we influence society is as much tied to what the federation does as it is to the perception of its work and role,

1.2 In this regard, the role of the media and other communication is vital to the goals and overall perception of the federation,

1.3 However, we seek to participate in the struggle of communication information society (the result of which we hope to achieve what we state in point 1 above) in a broad context of:

1.3.1 Monopolised media in terms of ownership, meaning that what they report, is necessarily ideologically at variance with what we represent. The ideological war is often very subtle and not easily noticeable, but exists nonetheless,

1.3.2 Media that suffers from a lack of skills and depth in various spheres including labour and economics,

1.3.3 The lack of the kind of content that would help conscientise society on the kind of values that the Federation and the broader democratic movement represents on the part of the public broadcaster. In fact the reduction of funding to this sector may result in there not being differences of orientation between the public and commercial broadcaster,

1.3.4 The emergence of community radio as a fundamental victory of the majority’s struggle for communication means, albeit the limitation of this medium, both in terms of the limitation of airwaves and financial resources on the part of many communities,

1.3.5 The ownership of shares in the media by unions and the democratic movement. There does not appear to be a strategic vision seeking to translate our ownership in some media, into the kind of control that would result in change of reporting patterns that characterised the South African media.

1.3.6 Limited media skills on our part,

1.3.7 The existence of COSATU’s own internal media, which is trusted by workers; meaning that it makes the necessary impact,

1.4 In this context, a media strategy must be multifaceted, proactive, flexible and reflexive in its use of communication tools towards the goals and vision of the federation. Media in this context becomes a tool for information dissemination, advocacy, investigation, education and even fundraising. To achieve this, some political decisions and campaigns must be taken.

Taking the above factors into account, we outline the following proposals, which will proceed from the following context:

For optimum use of available forms of communication, consideration must be given to the message and the target audience. When deciding media products, it is crucial that the media strategy combines content and medium so that we maximise the understanding, reach and communication strength of any programme.

2. COSATU Media

2.1 We will strengthen our own media production since this is the most reliable. In so doing, we must take content and physical presentation of our media – accessible language and design. Although we will discourage the use of difficult words, most articles will contain glossaries starting from the June edition,

2.2 We need to speed up the process of employing an Editor for the Shopsteward,

2.3 Ideas of massifying the distribution of the Shopsteward will be worked on. These include its advertisement in radio, newspapers, and web sites,

2.4 Consideration is being given to the need to revitalise the Internet briefs including a page of daily labour and economic news from newspapers. Depending on the availability of time and money, we may begin producing fortnightly briefs in isiZulu and seSotho for workers in the Johannesburg area. These could be distributed from affiliates in Johannesburg or transport stations,

2.5 Staff and office bearers need to be trained on various aspects of the media; including writing, presentation, design and audiovisual skills.

3. Radio and Television

3.1 In June last year, television was watched by 43% of the population on a daily basis, with SABC 1 being the most popular channel. There has been a steady increase in television receiver ownership and the uptake of licenses since 1995. The broadcast spectrum has also widened with the launch of E-TV. The local content stipulation as well as NUMSA’s 25% stake on the station makes it important,

On the other hand, radio is the most popular medium in South Africa, with three fifths of the population listening daily. In addition to private and public stations, the IBA has licensed several community radio stations. Community radio is an important medium for the Federation because it reaches a more defined, geographically limited audience often in areas, which are ignored by the mainstream media. The inquiries that we receive from community radio stations indicate that they are keen to cover our issues,

3.2 From this we can conclude that our emphasis on communication needs to gradually skew towards the broadcast media – public and community media in particular. We need to investigate the feasibility of programmatic relations with community radio stations and the rest of the broadcast media fraternity with a view to co-producing programmes,

3.3 As we did with the Job Creation Campaign, we need to sustain our television media production beyond advertisements to material that can be used in for worker education and general social consciousness formation,

3.4 In the long run, COSATU may need to consider starting its own radio station.

4. Print Media

4.1 Illiteracy affects the effectiveness and reach of all print media. Unlike community radio stations, the participation of the black community at grassroots level in this medium is rather marginal,

4.2 Our use of this medium must therefore be careful, selective, and purposeful and issue based. Generally we must always strive to use the most accessible. Accordingly, we will impress upon comrades to write on issues and events as well as network with a range of sections of civil society and intellectuals to praise or condemn certain things in order to utilise this medium effectively. Happily, we are about to conclude a deal for a 400 word weekly column in the Deputy General Secretary’s name with the City Press Newspaper,

4.3 The exercise of writing referred to above will have to include engaging the media on their assumptions, the issues they write and imply lobbying and wooing them to our side. This will include:

4.3.1 Newsroom visits, aimed at building relations with journalists and editors. They will also help make them feel that we hold them in high esteem while at the same time help us learn appreciate the extent of their limitations,

4.3.1 The normal Public Relations’ work like taking journalists for lunches, parties, etc.,

4.3.2 Rallying people and organs of civil society to voice our concerns whenever we feel that some issues are being either under reported or blown out of proportion,

4.3.3 Creative ways of utilising the media such as engaging cartoonists to capture certain issues, individuals, events and processes.

4.3.4 Consider starting an award to journalists, who demonstrate good reporting of labour issues,

4.3.5 Engage the CWU on the organisation of journalists.

5. General

5.1 We need to structure the department in such a way that it accommodates emergency work without compromising broad aims and objectives.

6. Assessment of the federation’s media work.

We need to constantly assess how we perform so that we get an idea of our strengths and weaknesses. The Media Monitoring Project assesses the media performance of several institutions at a cost of less than R10 000 a year. It is suggested that we need to consider seeking their services. At the same time, similar work would need to be done internally following laid down criteria.


We have to guard against introducing Information and Technology for its own sake (i e technology driven solutions). But we have to see IT as a valuable tool (as business does) and we should use it where it benefits labour and helps us to improve our operations.

1.1 Office Applications

There is an ongoing need for COSATU to use office applications to improve administrative efficiency at all levels (e g word processors, spreadsheets, databases etc). This means ongoing updating of computer hardware and software at all levels of the federation. It also means keeping abreast of technology trends (e.g. voice computing).

1.2 Capacity Building

Technology is useless, and even degrades organisational effectiveness, without people sufficiently skilled to use it. This requires an ongoing programme of training and skills development for Federation staff to ensure that as a Federation we can work smarter and more effectively.

1.3 Y2K

Without proper Y2K preparation, the federation`s ability to make use of IT will be in severe disarray on 1 January 2000. The IT Unit is concerned that very few affiliates seem to be taking Y2K seriously, and that almost none have Y2K programmes. Y2K preparation includes:

  • Preparing computers and computer programmes across the federation;
  • Ensuring that embedded systems (e g lifts, air conditioning, switchboards etc) will continue to work properly after 1 January 2000;
  • Ensuring that our affiliates have engaged with the possible social impacts (e.g. employer payroll failure, changes to shutdown and overtime arrangements, failure of plant equipment etc).

1.4 Communications Technology

COSATU needs to make far greater use of e-mail as a means of communication, both top-down and bottom-up. This should include dissemination of policy, of decisions, of news and information, of discussion and debate, and of mandating. The following steps are needed:

1.4.1 Access

We need to extend e-mail access beyond the privileged few at head office, down to regions, and to locals. We need to include as a collective bargaining demand the right of access for shop stewards to e-mail facilities (including training) at the shopfloor.

1.4.2 Internet

We need to build our internet facilities as an information resource, containing Federation and union policies, contact details (departments, unions, staff, responsibilities, phone numbers, e-mails, addresses etc), links to other useful internet resources. We should also include use of the internet as a research tool (e g developing anti-privatisation policy based on union experience elsewhere).

1.4.3 Intranet

We need to develop a Federation intranet for confidential information

and documents. Such an intranet would restrict access to particular sign-on (with passwords) and could be used for CEC documents, minutes, confidential discussion documents, internal education materials etc.

1.4.4 Distribution Lists

We need a more effective system of distribution lists to facilitate circulation of information to target groups such as the press, COSATU affiliates, COSATU regions, affiliate regions and locals, education, media etc structures.

1.4.5 Discussion lists

E-mail lists can be used to promote discussion, debate or education on a range of policy, education and other issues through dissemination of information and comments etc.

1.5 Dealing with the shift to an Information Economy

The federation needs to strategise its changing role and activities as economic activity both worldwide and in South Africa shifts from extractive (mining and agriculture) through industrial to a service / knowledge economy. This includes strategies to deal with work- force and workplace impacts on jobs and skills (e.g. job loss growth, skills downgrading, outsourcing, casualisation, privatisation, tele working). It also includes union strategies to organise the changing membership profile (e g membership benefits, white-collar strategies, and tele organising of tele-workers).


One mistake we can not repeat is to bite off more than we can chew. If the Special National Congress adopts this programme it would require massive resource mobilisation to succeed. There are a number of openings that COSATU should explore.

10.1 Labour Development Trust

Either we must close down the LDT, or we must make better use of it - ensure greater inflow of funds from sources beyond the European Union, ensure more funding for COSATU projects etc. Currently there is a danger that the number of FEDUSA applications that have been approved is the same as that from COSATU affiliates, or are even more in terms of cash.

The Labour Development Trust remains one area of funding that we have not exploited as the Federation.

10.2 Ditsela

The only disadvantage with Ditsela is that if we put pressure on the government to increase its funding of Ditsela, FEDUSA will also benefit. This is one area that we must explore.

This includes requesting a special budget allocation to COSATU and to a fund for development of solidarity, particularly with Southern Africa, Africa and South

10.3 ILO Regional Office - Pretoria

We have not established a working relationship with this office. We are therefore unable to use the resources and extensive materials the ILO has developed over many years. This weakness must be addressed.

10.4 Re-kindle Bilateral Relations

COSATU has extensive relationships with many labour centers across the world. Since we have reached the goal of self-sufficiency in administration, we have to develop a new cooperative relationship with most of these national centers based on projects.

10.5 FES

Our relationship with FES is not properly structured and their assistance to COSATU is ad hoc. We must structure this based on particular areas of the adopted programme.