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Publications | Shopsteward
Volume 5 No 2 - April/May 1996
- Worker News
- The constitution: Did Cosatu get what it wanted in the new SA constitution?
- Cosatu`s Living Wage Conference
- Public sector unions debate essential services
- Bosses guilty in Vaal Reefs tragedy
- Ditsela`s road to stronger unions
- Sector News
- Interview: Sam Shilowa puts questions to Nelson Mandela
- Economic battles take off
- The RDP and the economy
- The global neo-liberal agenda
- Social Equity and Jobs: a summary
- Gender Agenda
On 30 April, millions of workers embarked on a 24-hour strike with more than 350,000 engaging in marches. This is more than the sum total of our membership. It indicates the level of support for our demands. The challenge is to turn this support into membership.
A lot of pressure was put on us to abandon the strike. Old garbage about the impact of the strike on the economy was revived. We were blamed for the fall of the rand, despite the fact that this is not borne out by any evidence. It is believed that indeed some ministers were beginning to swallow this garbage. This trend should be resisted as it may mark the beginning of an attempt to take away our rights.
Despite the call by the press, the NP, DP and business to the ANC and president Mandela to distance themselves from the strike, the SACP and the ANC did not budge.
As workers we should salute the president and those leadership of the movement who stood firm against the onslaught on Cosatu. Our victory is their victory. It is the victory of the alliance and of the martyrs who died fighting for worker rights. It is a victory over those who wish to undermine or terminate the alliance.
The next step must be to take the victory to the shopfloor and communities. Threats by employers should not be taken lightly. While we should defend our gains legally, we should rely more on organisational defence.
It is now history that the NP has pulled out of the GNU. We do not lament their departure. We will not miss them. We need to however take account of the fact that they will go on an all out attack on the alliance, in particular Cosatu and the SACP.
Business will attempt to urge the ANC to take steps which will show that they are not influenced by Cosatu. This will imply privatisation, immediate trade liberalisation, removal of exchange controls, wage restraint, taking resources away from education, health and other social services in the name of budget deficit management.
This we can not allow. They are also likely to threaten to pull out of Nedlac in order to precipitate a crisis. While we should be vigilant, we should not panic. We need to vigorously defend the Social Equity and Job Creation document. In the forthcoming collective bargaining battles, we should be guided by the decisions of the Living Wage Conference. We should give solidarity to one another.
Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated that he will quit his position in parliament and as secretary general of the ANC to join Nail. As we know, we have engaged in polemic battles with Dr Motlana over his positions, including his support of BSA`s attack on labour during the LRA negotiations. We hope that Cyril will turn these events around. He should not allow his new "deployment" to give legitimacy to the economic empowerment that benefits a few at the expense of the majority.
The local government elections are due on 29 May in the Western Cape and in June in KwaZulu Natal. We owe it to ourselves and to take forward the resolution to support the ANC, to campaign effectively. In my visits to the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal, there seems to be very little involvement of national leadership in the campaign. Let`s use the opportunity to reverse the set-backs we suffered in April 1994. Our slogans should be: "Mayibuye: Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal".
As we celebrate the passing of the new constitution, let`s remain in our trenches. Behind our barricades, we shall defend democracy. The ANC needs our support. Let us build the ANC and SACP at all levels. Together we should start preparing for full implementation of the RDP as a direct statement for the next election in 1999.
The past two months have been particularly challenging for the labour movement. On the economic front, labour has faced a concerted onslaught by big business and its political allies and attempts to reverse past gains made by the alliance on economic policy. But labour rose to the challenge and, in early April, released its answer to the country`s economic woes in its document, "Social Equity and Job Creation: The key to a stable future". This is not just an abstract economic vision. It sets out concrete steps to stimulate economic activity - in the interests of workers, the unemployed, and their communities. We give a brief summary of the document (page 33).
On the political front, one of the country`s historic moments was the adoption of the South African Constitution. Workers and Cosatu made an indelible mark on this process. By taking to the streets, they helped ensure that the final constitution is indeed worker friendly. (See Sam Shilowa`s report back on page 6.)
While hostile forces continue to try to portray Cosatu as a spent force, the 30 April nationwide strike showed that the federation remains a force to be reckoned with. It showed that, when Cosatu leaders speak, they represent a real and powerful constituency.
This is perhaps why the federation has attracted particular venom from the ANC`s opponents in parliament. The so-called new-look De Klerk is trotting out the familiar big business refrain that organised workers are an elite. Move over Tony Leon! De Klerk now claims to represent "the poorest of the poor" and the unemployed! And we can expect this attack to grow as the NP is concerned to undermine both the winning formula of the tripartite alliance and what is surely one of the ANC`s most consistent support bases - organised workers and their communities.
The constitutional negotiations also showed that the tripartite alliance remains firm. President Mandela assured us of this in an exclusive interview conducted for The Shopsteward and the CDC by Sam Shilowa. We were especially privileged to have the President at our offices. So too, with deputy welfare minister Geraldine Fraser Moleketi, whom we interviewed in the run up to the Cosatu`s Women`s Conference (see page 42), which we will report on in the next edition.
Is privatisation a shift from the RDP?
The April 1994 elections ushered in a process of political and economic transformation in our country. Whether we are managing this process in the best interests of our people is a subject for debate. There are different forces at play with their own agendas. But what remains central is an agenda driven by the ANC-led Alliance that addresses the high rate of unemployment, inadequate health, access to education, the housing crisis and, most importantly, first and third world divisions that are acute in our country. The ANC as a liberation movement occupies a central role in pursuing this agenda.
The ANC adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955. A part of it, titled "The people shall share in the country`s wealth", outlined the organisation`s stance on how the South African economy should be structured in order to benefit all South Africans. The key and operative sections of this outline read as follows:
- the national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
- the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
- all other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people;
- all people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and enter all trades, crafts, professions etc.
This was perceived as the cornerstone of the ANC economic policy, particularly on critical sectors of the South African economy.
The ANC Constitutional Guidelines adopted in 1985 have a section on the economy which, among other points, states that:
- the economy shall be a mixed one, with a public sector, a private sector, a co- operative sector and a small-scale family sector;
- co-operative forms of economic enterprises, village industries and small-scale family activities shall be supported by the state;
- The state shall promote the acquisition of managerial, technical and scientific skills among all sections of the population, especially blacks.
Defining privatisation and nationalisation
Reasons advanced in support of privatisation are fiscal drain on government treasuries, large and persistent public sector deficits, inefficiencies in the public sector in the operations of public corporations or state-owned enterprises as well as structural adjustment programmes adopted voluntarily or involuntarily.
One of the proponents of privatisation defines privatisation as:
a systematic transfer of appropriate functions, activities or property from the public to the private sector, where services, production and consumption can be regulated more efficiently by the market and price mechanism. This process forms part of the strategy, whereby, firstly, the public sector`s involvement in the economy can be limited or reduced so that more capital, means of production and opportunities can be made available to the private sector and secondly, the private sector is given the opportunity to develop and grow optimally and with minimum state intervention and regulation.
Nationalisation aims at encouraging a more equitable distribution of income and of control over a nation`s productive wealth. It has been used by governments of one kind or another in the public interest and is generally characterised by the existence of a significant public sector in the economy. Through nationalisation, the state aspires to achieve greater social equality and economic democracy and more rational use of national and productive resources through public ownership of the means of production.
The underlying rationale behind nationalisation is the protection of an industry or enterprise whose operations and products are of strategic importance.
The South African experience
South Africa has had, over more than 40 years of National Party rule, economic policies in which nationalisation occupied the center stage. During this period, the economy was characterised by a high degree of state ownership of industry and control of public utilities such as water, energy, transport, communications and others. These parastatals were created with the objective of promoting industrial development, broadening the economy and providing jobs for many poor whites who were supporters of the National Party. These aims were achieved between 1929 and 1970.
Privatisation and the economy
The privatisation strategy aims to transfer social regulation from the state to the market process, which will regulate both the economy and social life. Privatisation and deregulation are the means by which market forces will be freed to carry out regulation. Underlying privatisation is a model of a free enterprise system which according to Leon Louw, may be defined as one where the government plays little or no role in the economy. They do not inhibit workers or privately owned businesses with regulations and they themselves do not own or control any business.
Because privatisation and deregulation increase opportunities for private capitalist activity, it is not surprising to find the private sector, and those sections of the media to which it is closely linked, strongly in favour of those policies.
The privatisation lobby argues that privatisation will enable the public to take over existing state corporations. But which sections of the public will have the financial resources to buy up the major share of the state corporations like Telkom, Transnet, Eskom etc? Which sections of the public will have the technical and financial resources to run them? Only the handful of giant companies, like Anglo American, Barlow Rand and Rembrandt, which currently dominate the private sector. These are the "sections of the public" which stand to benefit most from privatisation.
This paper has located the privatisation debate within a class perspective, showing how privatisation serves the interests of the powerful elements among the capitalist class and offers very little in the way of advancement for the working people.
Some might argue that, although this is true, it is nonetheless an improvement on the existing system of racial inequalities. But this ignores the fact that racial inequalities in SA already correspond closely to inequalities of social class. Privatisation will offer a relatively small number of black capitalist entrepreneurs access to the ranks of the white middle and upper class. But, for the vast majority of the black population, privatisation offers no real benefit. Indeed, in some instances it is likely to worsen the situation.
Privatisation will not, as lobbyists argue, redistribute wealth in an equitable way. It will enable those who already have wealth, who are mostly white, to acquire more wealth and will leave those who are currently poor, who are mostly black, at the bottom of the social structure.
Some of the key questions that need to be answered are:
- l Will privatisation unlock resources needed for the RDP?
- Who would be the beneficiaries if the state enterprises are privatised?
- Will this not diminish the role of the state in regulating the economy and meeting basic needs?
- Will institutions such as Eskom, Telkom, Transnet, if privatised, provide efficient, affordable, accessible electricity, telecommunications and transport to the vast majority of our people in terms of the RDP?
- What is COSATU/ANC/SACP policy on privatisation?
- Does this move towards privatisation not represent a policy shift from basic programmes of the RDP?
Numsa Eastern Cape education officer
Letter: Restructuring and reconstruction
I understand that in our country we talk of reconstruction and restructuring, particularly of things that were destroyed by the apartheid system. My understanding is that we must not just restructure and reconstruct the country - organisations and ideas of our members also need to be part and parcel of that process.
Trade unions must adopt a strategy of approaching employers when there are problems, as the situation is different now because of the changes in our country.
I must be fair and honest to you when I say the workers have not yet reached the stage where they talk of reconciliation in practical terms. The reason for this is that the process of change is moving very slowly. They want it to be speeded up and as a result they end up not seeing the change .
We need to develop our members so that they can understand that the way things were addressed before our independence differs now as the situation has changed. Before we were not part of the Nationalist Party Government. But now we are part of the ANC, which is leading the Government of National Unity.
As we are party to this government, we have an interest in uplifting the standard of the economy of our country so that job creation, which we talk about as part of the RDP, can be achieved at the end of the day.
People should understand that this government is not biased (favouring unions only) but also employers are favoured in terms of the new Labour Relations Act.
People must understand that we don`t need unnecessary strikes because people end up being dismissed and that is crippling our unions. Reconstruction of ideas of our members is needed and also restructuring of our trade unions as organisations. But we must make sure that we are not weakening our unions on the other hand.
Mackson N Siduna,
NUM regional chairperson,
Letter: Let us build socialism
Black people are under siege from all quarters. And the truth is, the struggle has begun. Regardless of the first phase of the Government of National Unity, blacks are still much disadvantaged. So I would like to quote a few things to explain why I am saying: "Let us build socialism!"
I would like my fellow comrades to understand what the Communist Party stands for, how to build it and its goals towards the liberation of our people.
The Communist Party is the politically conscious, advanced section of the class. It is the vanguard. The strength of that vanguard is ten times, a hundred times, more than a hundred times and greater than its number. Communists believe that no major historical event ever takes place without the popular masses playing a key part.
World history has shown that the more active the popular masses are, the more profound are social and political transformations. After the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, socialism was firmly established as a reality within a relatively brief span of time and grew stronger to become the main revolutionary force, even today. In the post-war decades, socialism has proven beyond doubt its basic advantage over capitalism.
Among the tangible achievements of socialism are the elimination of social oppression and inequalities, full employment, free education, free medical care, state social insurance, cheap housing, fast development of backward nations and ethnic groups, crisis-free economic advancement and genuine democracy. This gives rise to an unprecedented large scale activity of the popular masses in every aspect of public life and many other things which the working class never knew under capitalism.
Socialism today is the bastion of all progressive peace fighters of the democratic and national liberation forces. It is the vanguard and the strongest support of the world revolutionary process.
Lastly comrades, the communist fears neither a revolution nor popular war. They are prepared to sacrifice their life in the name of the ideals of the revolution. Thousands and thousands of communists died in revolutionary battles, like Ch‚ Guevara, Johannes Nkosi, Chris Hani, Harry Gwala, Joe Slovo and many others. But armed struggle by revolutionaries is justified only if it is dictated by the objective conditions of the development of the revolution.
Always remember that the people play a major role in political activities.
April 27 1994 was a critical juncture in the struggle for the liberation of the poor.
During De Klerk`s regime we fought for liberation without doubt, knowing that we shall prevail at the end of the day. But today we are suffering the outcome of our struggle, because the Government of National Unity is like a Wounded Beast.
During the multiparty talks and the negotiations at Kempton Park, the other parties were not in line with the ideals of addressing the future of this country.
During the Kempton Park negotiations, the IFP threatened to pull out of the negotiations and promised to fight our Madiba and the ANC. One needs to ask the question: Will the GNU be able to deliver the needs of our people or not? During the campaign for the 1994 elections, all the above mentioned organisations, including the PAC, promised to bring an end to violence and to ensure houses, creation of jobs, medical care, social security and many other things.
The ANC drafted its own RDP for the sake of addressing the needs of our beloved brothers and sisters of our motherland. We saw the IFP, CP, NP, DP and even the PAC turning their backs on the RDP as the vehicle to deliverance. What is amazing is that they just turn their backs on our RDP and are doing nothing.
This GNU will remain wounded until the above mentioned parties are prepared to address the needs of this country together as one, not as a party. You will agree with me that the violence in KwaZulu Natal is caused by the products of the IFP.
Let us come together as one and build a brighter future under the leadership of our beloved president Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela.
Calistro M Bhila,
Fawu local chairperson,
Letter: Still problems at Transnet
Since last year I have been observing what is happening in the whole country as well as Transnet and Sarhwu nationally.
My concern is the conditions of the workers. I feel that oppression still exists in the affirmative action procedures. I feel that in Transnet, affirmative action must be reviewed.
All the non-comrades and management informers have been promoted into higher grades to control our comrades, and as such our comrades are left destitute.
Comrades have been tested along with non-comrades, but comrades have always failed and non-comrades have always passed. This is because our members are asked by the management questions such as whether they will strike anymore. If they say yes, then they fail. But the non-comrades say they are not going to strike and so they pass. To me this is the stumbling block.
Another problem is that management is employing some people from outside according to popularity, not because of their abilities. For instance, the Line Manager of different grades. For shunters they employed a person who has never shunted to control us. If we tell him about some problems, he does not consider anything because he is unskilled. The same thing has happened in metro - a black area manager commanded the comrades ticket examiners not to travel by trains anymore to check some tickets. As such, every day a first class coach is full of third class commuters because there is no ticket examiner anymore.
Sometimes the suburban train has no first class coaches but people buy tickets for it. If Transnet wants to abolish first class, it must first tell the commuters.
The other burning issue is PAYE deducted from the workers. This causes me sleepless nights. The management does not care how many children you have, they just deduct higher amounts since this tax was introduced by the apartheid regime to oppress the workers. This tax must also be reviewed because people are suffering.
There must be a flat rate for all unskilled workers, for example, R100, regardless of any scale, because workers need justice. Some are left penniless because of PAYE.
The other issue is the lump sum for pensioners. Such money must not be taxed, because it was taxed during their working days. If an old person is supposed to get R48,000, it must be like that and should not be taxed.
How we won an historic new constitution
Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa, who was pivotal in Cosatu`s role in the constitutional negotiations, reports back on how the federation helped forge South Africa`s new constitution
History was made on 8 May 1996 when the Constitutional Assembly adopted a new constitution for our country. Once it has been certified by the Constitutional Court for compliance with the constitutional principles, it will be phased in to replace the interim constitution.
This will indeed be a fitting burial for apartheid and the dawn of democracy based on democratic participation, freedoms and rights as well as genuine commitment to transformation.
The constitution is a result of two years of negotiations in the CA with the main fight being between the ANC and the NP, the ANC and the IFP (before their walk-out), the ANC and the DP as well as with the Freedom Front, depending on the issue.
The ANC stuck to the positions and policies outlined in the RDP and its election promises. It sought to advance on the issues contained in or left out of the interim constitution.
The SACP and Cosatu also made contributions through the alliance. When the CA requested hearings, Cosatu made inputs on a number of issues. Some of these were later included, while others were left out due to rejection by the NP and DP, sometimes acting on behalf of big capital.
The beginnings of the new year saw a change in approach by Cosatu. We met with the ANC and NP respectively to place our positions and to ask for their support. While there was agreement in principle with the ANC on most issues, there was very little agreement from the NP.
On Friday 19 April 1996, a special Cosatu Executive Committee (Exco) resolved to embark on demonstrations on 26 April 1996 and a general strike on 30 April 1996 in pursuit of these demands.
On 26 April, marches were held in KwaZulu Natal while pickets and factory demonstrations were held in other regions. As the strike drew to a close, several meetings were held to resolve issues raised by Cosatu, the lock-out in particular.
In bilaterals that we held with the NP, it became clear that they were desperate for a settlement. The basis for a settlement was however unacceptable as it would have resulted either with the strike and lockout both excluded or the lockout clauses given constitutional protection in one way or the other.
The same could be said of employers. They were putting a lot of pressure on both the ANC and the NP for a formulation which would have had the same effect as above. One of them, Johan Rupert, even lied to President Mandela. He alleged that the reason why employers needed a lockout was to protect factories and machinery.
In the end, they did not succeed. The alliance held. The ANC and SACP leadership stood firm. The alliance position as summarised by comrade Thabo Mbeki in a tripartite alliance meeting on 29 April 1996 and endorsed by a Cosatu Special Exco on 4 May 1996 was that: "There shall be no entrenchment of the lockout in the constitution directly or indirectly.
"There shall be no lockout brought about by some clever formulation.
"Where wording is considered, it would not confer power/rights to employers that they should not have be exclusion of the lockout."
On 30 April 1996, millions of workers stayed away from work in support of the strike. Independent reports indicated it was a 75% success. More than 350,000 workers took to the streets in support of our demands. With the exception of KwaZulu Natal, marches were held in cities and towns across the country. Through our power, we were able to achieve our demands. Together with the alliance, we delivered a relatively worker-friendly constitution.
Defend the constitution
At the adoption of the constitution, the NP and DP indicated their unhappiness about, among others, the lockout clause, the property clause, and the NP raised problems regarding the GNU. They have both indicated that they will either challenge the exclusion of the lockout in the constitutional court (DP) or support it being challenged. Employers, through Business South Africa, have also indicated that they will challenge our victories.
We have a responsibility to defend ourselves and the constitution. Our slogan should be: "Defend the constitution! Defend democracy!" J
How Cosatu`s demands were captured in the Constitution
Access to information
Everyone has the right of access to:
(a) any information held by the state; and
(b) any information that is held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.
Right to picket
Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions.
Every citizen has the right to choose their trade, occupation or profession freely. The practice of a trade, occupation or profession may be regulated by law.
(including trade union security arrangements)
- Everyone has the right to fair labour practices:
- Every workers has the right:
- to form and join a trade union;
- to participate in the activities and programmes of a trade union; and
- to strike.
- Every employer has the right:
- to form and join an employers` organisation;
- to participate in the activities and programmes of an employers` organisation;
- Every trade union and every employers` organisation has the right:
- to determine its own administration, programmes and activities;
- to organise;
- to bargain collectively; and
- to form and join a federation.
- The provisions of the Bill of Rights do not prevent legislation recognising union security arrangements contained in collective agreements.
General Provision 241:
Labour Relations Act, 1995
- A provision of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act no.66 of 1995) remains valid, notwithstanding the provisions of the Constitution, until the provision is amended or repealed.
- A Bill to amend or repeal a provision of the Labour Relations Act may be introduced in parliament only after consultation with national federations of trade unions, and employer organisations.
- The consultation referred to in subsection (2), including the identification of the federations to be consulted, must be in accordance with an Act of Parliament.
When interpreting any legislation, every court must prefer any reasonable interpretation of the legislation that is consistent with international law over any alternative interpretation that is inconsistent with international law.
Everyone has the right to receive education in the official language or languages of their choice in public educational institutions where that education is reasonably practicable. In order to ensure the effective access to, an implementation of, this right, the state must consider all reasonable educational alternatives, including single medium institutions, taking into account:
- practicability; and
- the need to redress the results of past racially discriminatory law and practice.
This provision does not preclude state subsidies for independent educational institutions.
The notion of transparency in the budgetary process has been incorporated
- When an organ of state in the national, provincial or local sphere of government, or any other institution identified by national legislation, contracts for goods and services, it must do so in accordance with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.
- Subsection (1) does not prevent the organs of state or institutions referred to in that subsection implementing a procurement policy providing for:
- categories of preference in the allocation of contracts; and
- the protection of advancement of persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination.
Our position on parliamentary reporting was agreed to.
A person may vote for a municipal council if that person:
- is qualified to vote for the National Assembly;
- ordinarily resides in the municipal area; and
- is registered as a voter on the municipality`s common voters roll.
Provincial powers granted allow for national override and exclude matters related to the labour market, the economy etc.
Right to life
The death penalty has been abolished and legislation on abortion is not barred.
A provision allowing for the adoption of a charter of rights has been included.
We did not achieve our position on the exclusion of the property clause. The wording does however provide scope for the government to redress imbalances caused by apartheid and colonialism. The exclusion of natural resources may set back an approach to the acquisition of mineral rights.
We should monitor the way in which the rich attempt to block transformation and the transference of property. Should it be clear that the current formulation is used to the public`s disadvantage, we should review our position.
Policies to guide battles ahead
Cosatu`s Living Wage Policy Conference
Strictly speaking, Cosatu`s Living Wage Policy Conference is not intended as a forum in which to decide what demands affiliates will put to management in annual wage negotiations. Rather, it is an opportunity for affiliates to debate and formulate policy on macro-economic issues - the broad questions of growing the economy, creating jobs, and promoting a fairer distribution of wealth. Since Nedlac`s establishment last year, the living wage policy conference has assumed even greater importance. One of its aims is to inform and underpin Cosatu`s participation in the multi-party, agreement-making body. While the issues are still very complex, this year`s conference had its work defined more clearly than in previous years, because of the existence of labour`s Social Equity and Job Creation (see page 38). This document sets out a package of measures for organised labour (represented in Nedlac) to pursue in order to achieve these goals. The 1996 conference, held over the weekend of 19-21 April, was tasked with fleshing out the programme and spelling out in more detail how its objectives could be achieved. A number of the resolutions adopted are discussed below.
Keeping power in public hands - the electricity supply industry
In an emergency resolution, the conference endorsed a programme of action initiated by Numsa and Num - the two affiliates organising Eskom - aimed at ensuring that Eskom remains in public hands as the sole electricity generation, transmission and distribution utility. It rejected the recommendation of the employers-only Electricity Working Group for a separate company to manage distribution and collect payments. Conference declared its support for the counter-proposals - tabled by the more representative National Electrification Forum - for ending the distribution rights of the more than 2,000 local authorities, to achieve uniformity, standardisation, and affordability of tariffs.
Eskom has considerable potential for contributing to the revitalisation of the economy. But Cosatu argues that the RDP goals of electrifying large parts of the country, encouraging the expansion of the electronics and electrical appliance manufacturing industries, and training large numbers of black engineers, technicians and other skilled workers, will not be achieved through Eskom`s current strategy of `privatisation in the name of restructuring`. The campaign kicked off on 29 April with countrywide marches.
The Green Paper on Employment Standards - for a new Employment Standards Act (ESA) to replace the existing Basic Conditions of Employment Act -has been tabled at Nedlac`s labour market chamber and is presently being debated. Discussion at the conference focused on the need for a 40-hour working week, ending overtime to create additional jobs, improved parental rights, an immediate end to child labour, and the need for compassionate leave.
While reaffirming the demand for the immediate introduction of a 40-hour week and an end to all overtime, Conference recognised that this could not be achieved immediately in all sectors, for example, in transport. A call was made to affiliates to develop a co-ordinated approach that will make this possible over a period of time. The demand will be strengthened once further research is able to detail more clearly in which sectors, how many, and what kinds of jobs can be created by ending overtime work. Cosatu has also called for employer-paid maternity leave of six months, and that the Unemployment Insurance Fund should not be used to provide maternity benefits.
Transforming the public sector
The conference called on Cosatu`s six affiliates in the public sector and parastatals - the IPS, Nehawu, Popcru, Potwa, Sadtu, and Samwu - to conclude a merger as soon as possible. They argue that this is necessary to create a uniform approach to public sector transformation and the implementation of RDP projects.
The Public Sector Co-ordinating Committee, which has been dormant for some time, should be revived. This will serve as a vehicle for unions to co-ordinate their activities, while merger talks continue. The resolution identified the following objectives of public sector transformation:
- meet basic needs;
- create jobs and facilitate economic growth and development;
- reduce existing public sector wage gap;
- ensure re-deployment of people who could lose their jobs during restructuring;
- end the urban bias of public services;
- strengthen areas of delivery away from the bureaucracy, to the community level.
Affiliates were to ensure that the managements of parastatals upheld the National Framework Agreement on the restructuring of state assets. Where it is found that parastatal management is undermining the NFA, they should be removed by the relevant Ministers. It was also decided to convene a conference of ANC councillors and Cosatu, to strategise jointly on the transformation of local government.
Implementing the LRA
Conference called for the new LRA to be fully implemented by July 1. It had been hoped that the new law would come into operation on May Day this year. It was felt that "Codes of Good Practice" on picketing, dismissal, and sexual harassment, particularly the latter, should be incorporated into the new Employment Standards Act.
A number of union legal officers are known to have applied to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for positions as commissioners. With this in mind, the conference resolved that people sympathetic to labour should help staff the CCMA, but to ensure that this did not cripple the union movement. The resolution also dealt with the composition of the essential services committee (see page 12).
Workplace forums should be established only at the initiative of the national constitutional structures of affiliates - and not by branches - to ensure uniformity, and that forums are union-based, as opposed to workforce-based. Affiliates were asked to review existing recognition agreements to ensure that they contained at least the additional organisational rights conferred by the new LRA. Importantly, employers and the government are called upon to pay for workers` education on the new LRA.
Minimum and living wages, and a wage bargaining strategy
Input papers prepared for the conference by Numsa, and the labour research body, Naledi, in conjunction with Cosatu researchers on the Participatory Research Project, raised the question of what was meant by a "living wage", a "minimum wage", and whether a definition of these terms should be taken to include the "social wage" (health care, retirement provision, transport, etc.).
The Numsa paper asks whether Cosatu should be campaigning for employment expansion as separate from the campaign for a living wage. Conference agreed on the definition of a minimum wage as "a regulated monetary wage at national or sectoral level, taking into account the cost of living, which must be regularly reviewed." It defined a living wage as "the remuneration which includes a social wage which helps people to maintain the basic necessities of life."
A minimum living wage, the conference decided, had to be determined at national industry level. Blanket wage exemptions were to be discouraged and where they did apply, it should be based on the merits of individual enterprises. Exemption criteria should be developed at national industry level, and implemented at sectoral level.
Public Works Minister Jeff Radebe, in his address, tackled the thorny issue of wages paid to labourers employed on community projects of the National Public Works Programme, run by the Department of Public Works. He argued for a task rate of between R22 and R27. He defined a task as the amount of work executed in a period in accordance with the proposed National Framework Agreement, or as agreed with the community which supplies labour. Radebe argued that this rate be viewed as part of a package which includes a training component. He praised Cosatu negotiations co- ordinator, Khumbula Ndaba, for helping to restore good working relations between the Department and the labour movement.
Delegates called on affiliates in overlapping bargaining forums to co-ordinate their strategies. One such example is in the plastics sector of the iron, steel, and engineering industrial council, Nicisemi. Numsa and the CWIU compete for members and submit separate demands to employers. In addition, CWIU is seeking to take the plastics sector out of the Nicisemi, and into a chemicals industry bargaining forum. To this end, the conference called on the Cosatu demarcation commission, decided on at the March 1996 CEC, to be set up immediately, and for the May 1996 Exco to decide how affiliates and bargaining forums are to be demarcated.
Beefing up labour`s strategies in Nedlac
The conference debate on Nedlac was prefaced by Labour Minister Tito Mboweni`s address to the conference. Departing from his intended speech and speaking in his capacity as an "ANC activist", Mboweni said that Nedlac was created to build a system of social partnership in South Africa. The Nedlac Act assumed a very high level of public administration, public policy-making, co-ordination, and a quick system of making decisions. He said that he personally had come to the conclusion that some of the alliance`s expectations "were not right". A different, tighter form of co-ordination was now required, amongst and between labour, and with the other constituencies in Nedlac.
The tendency in Nedlac was for matters to be too formalised. It was not possible to discuss more broadly the context in which some of the debates and negotiations in Nedlac took place. To remedy this, the "Nedlac leadership system" was being developed. This brought together informally the general secretaries of the federations, the leaders of the business constituency in Nedlac, and officials from the Department of Labour - Les Ketteldas, Sipho Pityana, and himself - to look at the critical issues which were before Nedlac, and see to what extent it was possible to give guidance to chamber representatives. The intention was for decision-making to be speeded up. Decision-making in Nedlac did not happen quickly enough. For example, nominations to various boards created by labour market legislation took too long to finalise.
He contended that at the level of the alliance, insufficient leadership had been given to the Nedlac process. He had yet to see an alliance position paper on Nedlac.
The conference resolution was a restatement of Cosatu`s position on the role, function, and limitations of Nedlac. More specifically, it calls for the Nedlac capacity-building fund to be used to empower labour`s representatives, and to develop mechanisms to involve members in policy formulation. Social Equity and Job Creation had to be translated into a "dynamic programme of action" and "a tool for transformation".
Public sector unions debate essential services
Unlike most private sector workers, many civil servants will have to accept limitations on their right to strike when the new Labour Relations Act comes into effect.
It is in the civil service and parastatals, which are only just entering a period of restructuring, where the burden of providing essential services in a strike situation will still fall. With this in mind, the Public Services International (PSI), the ICFTU`s international trade secretariat for public sector unions, recently organised a two- day workshop on essential services and the new LRA.
Cosatu affiliates attending the workshop included Nehawu and Samwu. The workshop also brought together unaffiliated public sector unions such as the South African Police Union (Sapu), Fedsal`s health union, Hospersa, and the Nactu-affiliated Meshawu. The purpose of the workshop, said the PSI`s Southern Africa office co- ordinator, Hassen Lorgat, was to try and reach consensus among public sector unions on the process and criteria to be used in defining essential services. Critical for the success of this process, he argued, was for workers and their unions to be consulted, and for the debate to be broadened to other stakeholders.
Defined as "any service which can endanger the life, personal safety or health of part or all of the population if stopped", an essential service is generally regarded as health, water, and policing services.
In his presentation to the workshop, Rob la Grange, a researcher at Wits University`s Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), outlined the new LRA`s provisions dealing with essential services and how this affected the rights of civil servants and their unions.
"The definition of an essential service in our law differs from that in French labour legislation, which generally defines an essential service as those funded by public money, and which you would use if you couldn`t afford a private service. Here we`ve left the door open for extending the definition of an essential service to those provided by the private sector."
La Grange said that in general though, the definition in the new LRA is in accordance with principles developed by the International Labour Organisation.
But what about services rendered by the private sector which society regards as essential for its smooth running? Lorgat points out that private transport operators, for example, transport far more people than local government transport services. "Yet, under the present Act, local government transport is regarded as an essential service, whereas private sector transport is not." He urged public sector unions to debate with other workers and their unions who provide essential services, about what should be regarded as an essential service.
Alternatives to strike action
The new LRA requires that all disputes of interest in essential services be mediated by a bargaining council or the new Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
Cyril Langboom of Samwu contends that, on their own, alternatives to strike action such as mediation and arbitration are inadequate. "International experience has shown that even where these alternatives are available, they are badly used. They lead to poorer results for workers in collective bargaining outcomes. This is one of the reasons why, in many countries, the incomes of civil servants lag behind those of private sector workers." But even he recognises that the alternatives are limited. "What we can do, however, is make sure that we push for the narrowest possible definitions, and do this in each and every sector and unit of the public service," he adds.
Lorgat says that the new LRA, while opening the way for greater union involvement in determining what constitutes an essential service and which workers should continue to provide them, did hold some pitfalls for unions. Society had an interest in pushing for the widest possible definition of an essential service, so that the general populace could continue to enjoy access to a range of services funded by their taxes. "This means that public sector unions have to seek a dialogue with bodies like Sanco, and other organisations which are representative of civil society. It is not a decision which we feel we can or want to make on our own." This was particularly so, Lorgat said, because in the past public sentiment had been whipped up against strikes involving civil service workers, such as nurses.
The LRA expressly defines the South African Police Services, and the parliamentary service, as essential services. Sapu general secretary Pieter Brandt agrees that policing is an essential service but says his union is unhappy with the sweeping formulation of the definition in relation to the SAPS. He says that not all police functions should be regarded as essential all of the time. "A forensic expert working at the scene of a murder is performing an essential service," he argues, "but the same does not apply once that task is completed. Similarly, clerical and administrative staff such as bookkeepers, who are also employed in terms of the Police Act, should not be regarded as performing an essential service." His union`s mandate is to seek to amend the definition in the new Act.
The new Act allows the Essential Services Committee (ESC) - still to be established by the Minister of Labour, in consultation with Nedlac and the Public Services Minister - the final say in what constitutes an essential service and which workers within that service have to provide them. Unlike the old Act, the new LRA allows for unions and the employer to negotiate and agree on this, although this is still subject to ratification by the ESC. The ESC can also initiate an investigation and designate a service as essential. Public sector unions face a tactical consideration in deciding on participation in the ESC, says la Grange. "They have to decide whether to put their own people to serve on the Committee, or whether to leave it to ministerially appointed persons. If they do participate, then they may have to sell an unpalatable decision to their members."
Hospersa`s Elize Richards agrees that high-care medical services such as paediatrics, maternity services, intensive care units, theatre, and casualty should always be available. In services such as surgery, a minimum or skeleton staff would have to be in place. However, she argues that the term "life" in the definition of essential services in the new Act is interpreted too broadly. She says not enough attention is being given to the quality of services within a strike situation. "Nurses on their own can maintain a service during a strike, but it won`t be a quality service. We feel that the definition should aim at the quality of service provided to the `life`."
The way forward
Unions attending the workshop agreed to continue to talk to each other across federation, political, and other divides, and to lobby their leadership to take up the issue. "We`ve agreed that we need to take the initiative in this struggle, and not be caught napping," says Lorgat. The unions agreed to take up the matter in the national local government bargaining forum and the central bargaining chamber for civil servants. Those unions affiliated to national centres (federations) agreed to pursue the matter at Nedlac level, and to raise it at the ESC.
In the long run, says Lorgat, there is no substitute for strong organisation amongst those workers designated as essential. "We need to build the capacity of public sector unions to make maximum use of the alternatives, and for genuine solidarity from those members within the union movement whose rights are not restricted. This may go so far as setting up strike funds to sustain those workers who will battle on behalf of essential service workers."
Vaal Reef inquest finds mine bosses guilty
Those found guilty of culpable homicide in the Vaal Reefs disaster should be arrested. This was the call made by Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa at the opening of the federation`s living wage conference in April.
He was speaking just days after an inquest-inquiry into the tragedy at the Vaal Reefs No 2 shaft made known its findings.
Shilowa said while Bobby Godsell had belatedly called for a summit on health and safety, the Chamber of Mines was lobbying to water down the Health and Safety Bill before parliament.
"We need to call on the ANC and other political parties to go ahead with the Bill as it currently stands and not pander to the whims of mine employers," he said.
The Vaal Reefs accident, in which 104 mines lost their lives, took place on 10 May last year when a runaway locomotive plunged down a shaft and onto a cage carrying the workers. NUM official Hoyce Pundulu had been amongst the first to descend to the scene of the disaster. At the time he described it as "devastating". "Human flesh," he had said, "is scattered all around".
The inquest into the disaster, headed by Judge Ramon Leon, recommended that Anglo American`s Vaal Reefs Mining and Exploration Company be charged with culpable homicide for the deaths of the miners.
Leon said the inquest had established that, while the accident could not be attributed to any single cause, there had been clear breaches of mining safety provisions and law.
The inquest found that the Vaal Reefs company and five underground personnel - including the section electrician, Ndwandwe Khoza - had a case of criminal negligence to answer. According to the findings, Mr Khoza had known that the locomotive which plunged down the shaft was in a defective condition. However, the locomotive driver, Tsepang Mpota, while negligent, was not guilty of culpable homicide as he had no reason to believe the locomotive was in a runaway state, and that the dead man`s handle (the braking device on the locomotive) would fail.
The inquest also found that some employees had witheld information about the condition of the locomotive from the police and Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs investigators. This was that, prior to the accident, Khoza had informed them about the state of the locomotive and they had met underground in the station area to discuss this.
Another senior employee was found to have tampered with documents prior to appearing before the inquest. Despite what the inquest report termed "certain imperfections" in the evidence of Mpota, his version that the locomotive had run away was largely accepted.
While concluding that there had been negligence on the part of some of the underground personnel, Judge Leon said that members of the mine management could not be held criminally responsible for the deaths. Thus former managers of the mine, Wilkens and Muir, as well as the present manager (Prinsloo) and the engineering manager, Louw, were exonerated from charges of culpable homicide.
Judge Leon and his two assessors - one of whom was May Hermanus, a former NUM health and safety officer - found that two of the direct causes of the accident were that the locomotive had been parked in a prohibited area beyond a "no entry" sign, and the absence of a stopblock which was in the process of being installed. Had the stopblock been in place, they contended, the trajectory of the locomotive and mancarriage would have been arrested.
NUM president James Motlatsi, speaking after the announcement of the outcome of the inquest, said that the union`s belief that the obstacle to improved safety on the mine was the company itself, had been vindicated.
"I think the judgement is straightforward... the mine has been found guilty and they have to take full responsibility." He added that the union`s next move would be to try and secure additional compensation from Vaal Reefs for the families of the victims. "The mine will be charged, and depending on whether or not they`re found guilty, we`ll launch a civil case." Motlatsi said that Anglo`s offer to meet with all mining unions in a health and safety summit amounted to "too little, too late".
Its inquest proceedings now concluded, the inquiry will resume in early May as the Leon Commission, when it will consider submissions as to how similar accidents can be prevented in the future. According to Fleur Plimmer, NUM health and safety co- ordinator, the union will concentrate its representations on pro-active methods of preventing accidents, such as developing safety management systems, risk assessment, and risk management. This will include monitoring the performance of the recently-expanded mine safety inspectorate, and its ability to conduct inspections, investigations, and inquiries. "We`ve decided not to make specific submissions around safety devices. We feel that it is the role of government, through the DMEA, to do this," she added.
In a fortunate co-incidence for Anglo American`s gold and uranium division, the inquest findings coincided with the release of its 1996 first quarter results less than three hours later. This helped to offset any negative investor sentiment the inquest findings may have had on the performance of Anglo`s mining and industrial shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Approached for comment by some media workers after Judge Leon`s announcements, Anglo mining executives were heard to excuse themselves as they had to "dash across town for the quarterlies".
Ditsela - pathway to union strength
This year will see the launching of a new trade union education and development institute. This is a major breakthrough for worker education and a boost for union capacity-building.
The name of the Institute is to be Ditsela, which stands for Development Institute of Training, Support and Education for Labour. Ditsela is a Sotho word meaning `pathway`.
Ditsela is intended to help build the trade union movement`s capacity and strength through providing pathways of learning for union members, worker leadership and union staff.
For three years Cosatu has been discussing the setting up of such an institute. In 1995, Nactu and Fedsal joined the discussions. In February this year the three federations agreed on a Founding Document which sets out the principles, objectives, functions and structures of the Institute. The document also sets out an implementation programme.
Winning government recognition of independent trade union and worker education has been our aim for some time. Funding and support from the Labour Ministry for Ditsela signals that, at last, worker education is seen as a crucial component of the education and development priorities of the government.
Ditsela is envisaged as a dynamic institute, serving labour from grassroots to leadership level. A variety of education and training programmes will be at the centre of its activities. But Ditsela won`t just run training courses. It will also provide a range of other services.
The Founding Document gives a broad outline of the intended programmes and support activities. These include:
- Basic trade union training programmes for staff and shopstewards, focusing on organisation building and necessary skills;
- Leadership development programmes, including women leadership;
- Targeted programmes for specific groups in the unions e.g. organisational management for secretaries and office bearers; legal skills for legal officers and organisers; Health and Safety for HSE representatives,
- Broader labour studies programmes in modular form which would include political, economic, international, labour market and other issues of relevance to labour and the country as a whole.
It is hoped that Ditsela will eventually provide recognised certificates within the National Qualifications Framework for some of its programmes.
Intended support and development activities are:
- support and follow up for participants on their return to their unions;
- support for the affiliates` own education programmes, e.g. developing shopsteward training or other union-specific programmes;
- organisational development assistance. This could include computerisation and administrative systems;
- curriculum, methodology and materials development.
Structure and funding
It is intended that Cosatu, Nactu and Fedsal will form a Management Board to run the Institute. Cosatu has proposed that the number of board members from each federation should be based on proportional representation, based on membership numbers. However, Nactu has objected to this. Despite the dispute, the Cosatu`s March CEC confirmed that Ditsela must go ahead with or without Nactu. Seats on the Management Board will be reserved for Nactu should they in future decide to come on board.
There will also be an executive committee with representatives from unions (via board members) and Ditsela staff who will deal with the programmes and running of the Institute. Ditsela will therefore be an independent body, but controlled and directed by the trade unions in the interests of the trade union movement and workers.
Funds for the Institute will at the start come from the Department of Labour. Later, other funders will be found to add to government money. This is so that the Institute does not tie itself completely to government funding in order to avoid future problems. For example, if there is a change of government or government policy.
However, further negotiations need to secure funding for a longer period of time. We need to be sure that Ditsela will grow and flourish and not end up a short-term project which dies due to lack of ongoing funds.
All this will not happen at once. Ditsela is still being set up. Then it must employ well-skilled and committed staff. It must develop programmes. It will need to gradually build up the other services. Mechanisms must be worked out to ensure that it interacts very closely with the unions and provides for organisational needs.
We can expect problems along the pathway. We hope that, by the end of 1996, Ditsela will have been able to launch its first programmes and, by 1997, be fully functioning.
Recent trends in collective bargaining
In their study on the trends in 1995 collective bargaining agreements, prepared for Nedlac`s labour market chamber, researchers Chris Lloyd and Avril Joffe identified two broad categories of issues negotiated during the period, and where innovative deals have been struck:
- Those emerging from the socio-political context, and aimed at meeting members` expectations arising out of the political transformation. These include Aids, health and safety, participation, benefits, job security, affirmative action, and RDP commitments;
- Economic imperatives to improve productivity, restructuring initiatives to meet tariff reduction deadlines, and the conditions deemed necessary for this to happen, such as productivity payments, wage gaps and grading, workplace and organisational restructuring, flexibility of working hours, training and skilling.
The authors conclude that, based on their findings and their brief to identify possible areas for social partnership, it is possible for national-level agreements to be concluded on collective bargaining issues in four broad areas:
- social wages (retirement incomes, housing, transport, health, and education);
- productivity arrangements;
- savings and investment policies, and
- industrial policy.
Except for certain parastatals such as Transnet and Eskom, the public sector appears to be lagging behind in addressing these issues in formal agreements with unions. Only in the auto assembly sector - a bastion of male employment - is there an agreement which addresses a gender specific issue (women`s health).
Equally worrisome is that, despite a notional commitment by both unions and employers to the goals of the RDP, very little has been concluded in agreements which address the need for job creation. No agreement specifically sets targets for company/enterprise expansion and job creation. Thus, while Eskom and its unions have agreed on a number of laudable, RDP-related goals, job creation is not one of them. This raises the question of the extent to which unions are acting in the interests of the unemployed, and simply not using bargaining power to address the issue.
An issue which arose from agreements concluded last year is the incentive bonus disputes at Toyota and Delta. At both companies, the agreements were designed as productivity improvement incentive schemes. However, the fact that they led to strikes and in turn strained the 1995 agreement, points to the need for more thought to be given to structuring productivity deals, and what kinds of rewards are best suited to workers` needs.
Collective bargaining demands in 1996 - the same old shopping list?
A brief review of wage demands submitted by Num, Numsa, Sactwu - Cosatu`s three largest affiliates - and CWIU indicates that in 1996, unions have latched on to proposals contained in the Green Paper on Employment Standards to push for greater individual rights (parental rights, working hours, probationary periods, annual leave, etc) for those in employment, and for new entrants to the labour market.
Unions are also attacking the apartheid wage gap through reducing the number of grades, broadbanding, and benchmarking. Agreements on training and skilling are increasingly being sought. Employment security clauses such as Numsa`s proposed employment security fund, and the Num`s social plan, are seen as ways to cushion job losses or preserve jobs.
CWIU is currently campaigning for a single, national industry bargaining forum, and has suspended all plant/company/enterprise-level bargaining.
Only members in the plastics sector - falling under the iron and steel industrial council - will negotiate wage increases and working conditions. The union and the National Working Group of chemical industry employers are deadlocked over CWIU`s demand that the national bargaining council have overriding powers over the sectoral chambers. CWIU says it will only negotiate wages and working conditions in 1996 in a centralised forum.
However, its national bargaining conference resolved to demand an R1800 per month minimum wage or 20% across the board increase, whichever is the greater, if and when negotiations in a central forum commence. The union has given itself until the end of 1996 to set up such a forum, but will accept a national interim negotiating structure in which all CWIU-organised factories can participate.
Auto and tyre
The auto assembly and new tyre manufacturing industries both have three-year agreements, starting last year. In 1996 therefore, negotiations will be held in the iron and steel engineering industrial council (Nicisemi), and the motor service industry (Nicmi). In the former, negotiations proceed against the background of Numsa`s three-year bargaining strategy which calls for:
- closing the apartheid wage gap between high and low-paid workers;
- developing a new grading system; and
- developing career paths and pushing employers to provide training.
This strategy called for wage rates in all grades to be linked to the artisan rate as follows:
grade 1 60%
grade 2 70%
grade 3 80%
grade 4 90%
grade 5 (artisan) 100%
But after the first year of the bargaining programme - although higher percentage increases were granted for lower-graded workers in 1995 - there is not yet agreement to index wages in non-artisan grades to the artisan rate. Last year it was agreed to reduce the grades to five skills-based grades, from the present task-based 13 with its over 300 classifications. The current actual average artisan rate is R24.95. For Numsa to achieve its objective, it would have to raise the minimum wage in the lowest grade from R6.74 p.h. to R14.97 p.h. to equal 60% of the artisan rate - an increase of 122%! That sums up the enormity of Numsa`s task.
If it does not achieve this, two options present themselves. The first would be to continue negotiating with all companies together but to slow down the pace of increases so that those companies who cannot afford the increases can keep up, which would see the targets being achieved in 10 years instead of three. Option two would amount to having two schedules in the agreement - one for those companies which do not move to the new grading system and wage structure, the other for those who do. However it would in effect create two separate labour markets within the industry.
Separate but parallel negotiations continue on these matters, and on a productivity framework and employment security clauses.
In 1996, Numsa has tabled demands for an increase of 20% on the bottom grades and wants to reduce wage differentials between grades to 10%. Seifsa`s opening offer on 18 April at the first round was 6% across the board, and employers in the coastal regions and Northern Cape have once again demanded blanket exemptions.
Num is concentrating on what it calls "core demands", involving
- a living wage and a fair wage structure,
- ending racial discrimination,
- health, safety and compensation, and
- employment security.
It is demanding a minimum cash wage of R1320 for surface workers, and R1458 for underground workers. Num wants minimum wage increases of R264 for surface workers, and R292 for underground workers. On mines outside the Chamber of Mines, which pay more, a minimum 25% increase is demanded for the present bottom four grades. The wage gap should be reduced to at least 15% between grades this year. Num also wants employers to agree to a two-year wage agreement w.e.f July 1997. Its main job security demand - apart from the implementation of a social plan - is for an agreement to regulate subcontracting.
On health, safety and compensation issues, the union`s hand will be strengthened by the inquest findings into the Vaal Reefs No 2 shaft and Merriespruit slimes dam disasters, the Epidemiology Research Unit`s study of health problems among ex- mineworkers in the Libode district in the former Transkei, and new Mine Health and Safety Act.
Sactwu is bargaining in very diverse sectors - clothing, leather, fabric knitting, textile, and is demanding a national clothing retail bargaining unit. To unify its members, the union has demanded a R50 per week increase for workers in all sectors, except for clothing retail, where a minimum R480 per month increase is demanded. It is seeking to close the wage gap by benchmarking to the rate paid to Natal machinists; 90% of that rate for peri-urban areas, and 80% for rural areas. This highlights an important distinction between the industries organised by Sactwu, and those by Numsa, which require different approaches. In the clothing, textile and leather industries the wage gap is principally a urban/rural one, whereas in the iron and steel engineering industries, the wage gap is based on job grading.
Sactwu is also demanding that employers contribute 1% of the weekly wage bill to a Housing Development Trust for members. Additional demands are tabled in some sectors to bring them up to standard with the best practice in the union. Clothing workers already enjoy a bursary fund for dependants, so this demand has been tabled in the other sectors. Similarly, the union is asking employers to raise their contribution to the industry provident funds to 5% in all sectors.
Boldly into the wilderness? Or laying the groundwork for the future?
At the end of this year`s bargaining season we will hopefully have a clearer picture of what demands will characterise negotiations in the last five years of this century, and what will be the issues which concern workers at the start of the new millenium. But unions have still not made a decisive breakthrough on the "core issues" confronting workers in the globalising economy - how, through collective bargaining, it will be possible to:
- promote job preservation and job creation, and
- democratise the world of work and increase worker control over issues of production.
The Num is perhaps best positioned to lead the way, given that all parties now realise the precarious state of the mining industry.
One possibility for creating new jobs is spelt out more clearly in labour`s Social Equity & Job Creation. However, although most unions are demanding a 40-hour working week without loss of pay, the demand for an end to overtime does not feature directly in the wage demands. This may be because the decision to campaign for an end to overtime came too late to be included in wage demands tabled to employers this year.
Challenges for public service workers
On 19 April 1996 the Public Service Bargaining Council central chamber wrapped up the negotiations for at least the 1997 financial year.
These negotiations have been going on from October 1995 around a new grading system and salary adjustments for public servants. The last round took at least three weeks of workshopping the new grading and five weeks of actual bargaining.
On 8 April an in principle agreement was reached on a package for the next three financial years - 1996/1997, 1997/1998 and 1998/1999. The package covered grading, severance packages, pensions restructuring and right sizing. The outstanding areas of pensions were finalised during the week of the 15-19 April 1996.
Negotiations in the public service (albeit flawed) only started late in 1993 after the promulgation of the Public Service Labour Relations Act which established the Public Service Bargaining Council. Before this, sweetheart staff associations were consulted by government through a toy telephone called an Advisory Council.
Who is bargaining?
At present 19 trade unions and staff associations are represented in the Central Chamber of the Public Service Bargaining Council. This was partly due to the rationalisation of the former "self-governing territories".
The membership requirement for admission to the Chamber is 1,000 members. And some organisations have a membership of just over 1,000. Others have members in one province only. This arrangement makes negotiations in the public service unwieldy, time consuming and unproductive.
Nehawu has argued strongly that to be admitted to the Chamber, organisations should have at least 20,000 paid-up members and be national in character. Regional organisations should be confined to provincial chambers. Our argument is that organisations that speak on behalf of public servants should at least have a legitimate claim through some measure of substantive representivity. This is a generally accepted norm in labour relations which the new Labour Relations Act seeks to promote.
Because of the history of apartheid, public service trade unions and staff associations are divided into two main blocks - those which seek to transform the public service in line with the new national objectives and those which are hell bent on preserving the privileges inculcated by apartheid.
This same is true for the employers. The compromise arrangement of the Government of National Unity (GNU) has meant that many of the white old guard public servants still occupy strategic positions in the negotiations. Their agenda is clearly to protect the privileges of the old order.
What makes matters worse is that the salaries of the same top civil servants (in the management echelons) are negotiated in the same Bargaining Council. This means that the government negotiators have a vested interest in the outcome of the negotiations. This makes the closing of the wage gap between the top public servants and the lowest paid very difficult to achieve as this has a direct impact on their own salaries.
Nehawu demands that the salaries of those who represent government as employer (the management echelon) not be negotiated in the same Bargaining Council. Management must be politically appointed.
The agreement on the new grading system is a real improvement and a great achievement by the progressive unions in the public service. It represents the first step towards the declared Cosatu policy of a skills-based grading system. It has rationalised salaries of the different occupation groups across the public service and therefore done away with many disparities. For instance, those who have three-year post-matric training will be put on the same grade, irrespective of the occupational group they belong to.
The severance package through early retirement provides a facility to get rid of the old guard (mainly white) public servants who cannot come to terms with the new dispensation. This process will help achieve the national objective of a broadly representative public service as dictated by the constitution of the country.
Pensions restructuring provides one of the greatest challenges to the progressive block in the public sector. The public sector pension fund is valued at over R120 billion. Immediate efforts to enhance workers` control of this fund are crucial.
The government service pension fund is a fully funded fund. In simple terms, this means that the government must put enough money in the fund so that at any stage it could pay out all public servants.
This means putting money in the fund that is not really going to be used in the immediate future because not all public servants will retire or resign at the same time. As a result of this arrangement, the government owes over R60 billion to the fund. This debt (which is money owed by government to government) adds to the country`s (domestic) debt. Secondly, and most importantly, the government cannot fund salary improvements and other conditions of service because of this (fictitious) debt.
Rightsizing as it is currently proposed is a very dangerous concept. It is not driven by financial considerations but moves from the wrong premise that the public service is bloated. At present the government does not know how many workers it employs. Not all its employees are on the payroll. Recent investigations have revealed that some of the names on the payroll belong to dead people. Only a month ago, government gave two conflicting figures on the total number of public servants.
Nehawu argues that rightsizing should be seen as part of the process of public sector transformation which is underpinned by the need to meet the basic needs of our people.
The rightsizing or redeployment programme must be preceded by a proper audit of personnel numbers, skills and needs of our communities. Our conviction is that, if this is down, you can only rightsize up. The service needs of our people are just too great. In this way, the public sector as a whole can play a very important role in job creation. This approach will defeat the neo-liberal agenda of the IMF and the World Bank.
Challenges for the future
The problems in public service negotiations are structural and historical.
One of the single most important challenges is for all the Cosatu public sector unions to develop a common strategy and set the agenda for public transformation. In the context of negotiations, areas that need immediate attention are:
- Development of a fully fledged skills-based grading system with a mass education and training programme.
- Restructure negotiations in such a manner that they influence the process of drawing up the national budget.
- A Pay As You Go (PAYG) pension system to reduce the debt and fund the improvement of working conditions.
- Redeployment of personnel
- Establishment of the new bargaining structures as per the new Labour Relations Act.
- Unionisation of the majority of public servants.
The public sector negotiations are by their nature political and therefore very complex. The Cosatu public sector unions must regroup, close ranks and rise to the occasion. J
Looking back with Madiba
To mark the second anniversary of the government of national unity and on the eve of Cosatu`s strike to protest around the inclusion of the lockout and other clauses in the new constitution, Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa interviewed president Nelson Mandela
Sam Shilowa: Two years after many of us voted and put in place the Government of National Unity, what would you say have been the gains for the country as a whole, and for workers in particular?
Nelson Mandela: Our mandate is to better the lives of our people by creating jobs, providing houses, schools, hospitals and clinics, electricity, clean water and so on. That is our mandate. We spent the first twelve months planning in order to be able to deliver these services. But, as you are aware, before the elections there was one point I kept on repeating. I said that to better the lives of our people is not something that can be achieved overnight. It is a process. Before there is visible delivery, it may take as long as five years. But the very first day we are in power, the process of trying to address these needs, and carrying out this mandate, will start. I think we have gone a long way to achieve that objective.
Firstly, about R51,7 billion left the country between 1985 and the first half of 1994. But, according to the Reserve Bank, there was a dramatic change after the inauguration of the new government. R30 billion of that amount is back in the country. Not only that. We have reversed the negative growth that we had registered for two decades. We were able to have a positive growth rate of 3% last year. We have also reduced the amount of inflation from a double figure, to 6%. Of course, there has been a slight rise since then. We have also reduced company and individual insolvencies.
The 3% has of course not been enough to provide jobs for all our people. We need at least 6%, but we are on the way there, and I don`t have to speak about the health schemes that we have introduced, the feeding schemes, the water projects. We are now beginning with housing. We have this scheme in Nylstroom where we are building houses already. The first two years have shown already that we have a government which cares for the people. We have raised the confidence of local and foreign business, in spite of the problems we have. If you bear in mind the different backgrounds from which we come, you will see that we have made remarkable progress.
There are allegations that all of this has happened at the expense of the greater public and workers, that you have been paying attention only to the whims of big business and pandering to the whims of whites.
That is absolutely incorrect. I do not think there is a single person in this country who has shown the concern for blacks that I have done. Even before the 10th of May 1994, I went to business and I asked them to build clinics and schools, to deliver services to our people. I said that even if we win and we are in government, the wheels of government grind very slowly and it`s going to take some time. But I`ve asked government in the meantime to deliver services. Just to give you an illustration, I asked a well-known corporation to build a school and a clinic in Venda, a clinic and a school in Lebowa, a clinic and a school in Gazankulu. Not only did they agree to build three clinics and three schools, they built three clinics and six schools. I have done that for all provinces, and I have asked the private sector to deliver these services. Nobody has done that in this country.
I have asked big business to build a complex so that I can release our children from prison, and accommodate them there, and provide training. That is happening. I have established a Children`s Fund which today stands at R22 million cash, and there are guarantees for a further R25 million. Would you say a man who has done that is pandering to the interests of the whites?
And look at what I`ve done as government. In the G7 countries, I have dismissed all the ambassadors employed by the apartheid government, and I have put our men and women there. Is that the attitude of one who is pandering to the interests of whites? As far as ministerial portfolios are concerned, I refused to give the National Party either defence, the police, intelligence, and justice, which they wanted to share. I refused. What type of pandering to the interests of whites is this, where I take decisions of that nature? It is people who are blind, who do not know what is happening in this country [who can say that]. We also want to prevent the whites from being driven into the hands of the right wing. And therefore we must address their concerns. We must ensure that those with talents, with skills, who have had the advantage when the majority was disadvantaged, use those skills for this country.
Cosatu has made a call to big business to invest in training the workforce. They say this should be done by government. How does the government view our approach of ensuring that there is proper skills training on the shopfloor?
I support the position of Cosatu. In-service training is something that is well-known to business, and they have been doing it. It may not be happening on the scale we want.
Human resource development is extremely important for the building of our economy, and it should rather be a joint venture between government and the private sector. The government will do its part, but that does not excuse business from training its workers and from investing in them. I fully support the position of Cosatu.
I have on several occasions spoken to big business and said this wide gap which exists between black business, which is small, and medium-sized, and big business, which is by definition white, must be breached.
My message to foreign business is that they should form joint ventures with black business. Give them the skills, training, capital, and experience, promote them so that they can reach the same position as big business. I have put that message to big business consistently when I come back from my trips abroad. All these are part of human resource development, and therefore I fully support the position of Cosatu, both from the point of view of workers in industry, and empowering black business.
The ANC came into the GNU on the basis of the RDP. With the dismantling of the RDP office, there are stories that the RDP has come to an end, and that now we are going to have to build the economy at the expense of development in a number of areas.
No. The RDP is still there. What we have done is to close it as a separate department in the office of the president. We feel that the RDP should now be administered by the Department of Finance, and under the control of the deputy-president. Its programmes will still continue. There has been no change in that at all. That view is based on a lack of information. If they had come to us to get an explanation, they would not have the mistaken view that the RDP has now come to an end. The office has closed, but the projects are still continuing.
In KwaZulu Natal we have seen a lot of violence, not only in the run-up to the current elections, but also since the April 1994 elections, even though other areas are enjoying relative calm. What is the government doing to deal with this problem? We want to stabilise KwaZulu Natal in order to bring in investment, peace and democracy.
It is a mistake to think that within two years the government would have put an end to violence which has been there since September 1984. We have to use the existing security forces. And those security forces have been trained in a particular direction, to defend the status quo. We have now to change that approach, to make them an instrument to serve the new values of democracy to which we are committed. But that is not easy, because it means that we have to clean the security services and get rid of the element which wants to defend the status quo.
We have a command structure of the SAPS as well as the SANDF which has completely changed, and they are loyal to the new values. But when you go down there, its not that easy, as the case of Shobashobane has shown. We have arrested a large number of police, and we are still going to arrest more. Because they were directly involved in this violence.
To think that the GNU could have stopped violence within two years is not realistic in the light of the problems that we have. In order to put an end to the violence we have to use the existing security services. Although we have the complete support of the command structure, and the majority of the SAPS is composed of men and women of high integrity, nevertheless there are still quite powerful elements who want to defend the old order. It is not easy to get rid of them altogether, but we are on the way there.
What we are doing is to establish focus groups for the four areas which are the flashpoints of violence in Natal. We have established focus groups for Shobashobane. We got police from outside the area. There was death almost every day, but since that operation in February, there has not been a single death.
A second focus group exists for the Durban area, where it is our own people in L section who are killing innocent people. The third one is for the Midlands, and the fourth for northern Natal. But again, it is not easy to screen properly the men and women who are going to constitute these focus groups. We are now on the verge of completing the screening of the second focus group for the Durban area. After that, we`ll go on to the Midlands and northern Natal. The success in Shobashobane gives us the confidence that this is a strategy that is eventually going to succeed in putting an end to violence.
One area in which there appears to be very little movement is job creation. We have large numbers of unemployed, and workers in employment are themselves being paid a pittance in relation to white workers and the CEOs of big businesses. What is government`s approach to dealing with unemployment?
We have been able to turn a negative economic growth rate into a positive one. But that is not enough to absorb the unemployed. In order to be able to start creating jobs, and absorb the unemployed, we`ll have to have a growth rate of at least 6%. We are on the way there. We are starting with the building programmes. The advantage of housing is that it not only provides accommodation for individuals, it provides jobs for people. We are going to start providing jobs at least for certain sections of the unemployed. But to create jobs on such a scale as to make a real dent into the army of unemployed, it is going to be necessary for us to push up our growth rate.
We don`t want to promise something we cannot do. We are calling on our people to be patient with us, because this is a problem that worries us day and night. Therefore, in the whole programme of delivering services, we are also having in mind labour intensive projects which will help to absorb the unemployed. But we are stressing that labour in any particular area should not be imported. We should use labour from that area. In this way we`ll be able to start tackling the job scientifically.
How do you see the matter of the lockout being resolved, whether or not we have one in the constitution?
I have said that it is reasonable for Cosatu to call a strike and I`ve spelt out the reasons for that. I think that Cosatu has a good case, because if you examine the position throughout the world, as you have stated in your memorandum, you will find that lockout clauses are not contained in the constitution of democratic countries. It is contained in the constitution of countries with poor labour records. We in the ANC think it should not be in the constitution at all, especially as it is already contained in the existing Labour Relations Act. That is the position we will put in the negotiations, and I`m confident we will have a foolproof case.
There has been a call for the ANC to sever its ties with the SACP and Cosatu, but particularly with Cosatu so that the ANC can deal decisively with labour. It is said that Cosatu currently holds the ANC to ransom with a number of threats. What is the response of the ANC to such calls?
This issue was raised very sharply in the run-up to the elections. I said very clearly that no leader of any moral authority could work with an ally when we were all alone, under extremely difficult conditions, and on the verge of victory, be advised by our former enemies, that we should dispense with our allies. To try to sell us that idea, means that those who are saying so have no morals. They mean that they can work with an ally for a particular objective and on the eve of obtaining that objective, they take advice from their former enemies. I said that I would never do that. That applies to the SACP and Cosatu.
We have won the elections as a result of the sweat and blood of the tripartite alliance. That alliance must go on. But that does not mean that Cosatu and the SACP are subservient to the ANC. No. That`s why you have criticised us in the past, and that`s why you are having a strike, whatever our view is. It is because you are an independent organisation. We acknowledge that. We want that, because when we face any issue we want the advice of strong, independent allies who can say to us "Now you are right", and who can say to us, "Now you are wrong." That is why we have been so strong. We`ve been working with strong, independent organisations that are self- confident, fearless, and who can express their views even when those views clash with ours.
The Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal are going into elections. What is your message to workers?
My message to workers is that they know our record, what we have been doing over the last two years. Now that we are approaching the elections, those who have not been doing anything for the workers, now because the elections are coming, they pretend to be the friends of the workers.
The fact that parties like the Nats and the DP should support a lockout shows they are not the friends of the workers, they are the friends of big business. I am friendly to big business. I`ve got very good relations with them. But I know what is wanted by my people. My people don`t want a lockout. And I support them in that. Those organisations that are not with the people, they are opposed to the idea that we should not have the lockout in the constitution. That spells out the case very clearly. I am confident that the workers know who their friends are.
Can you tell us what to expect from the presidency of Mr Mandela in the years to come?
It is serious mistake to concentrate on an individual. There is no individual who is responsible for this transformation. It is the people of the country who are responsible for it. When Chief Luthuli was ANC president, especially after he received the Nobel peace prize, the same question was being asked: What will happen when he steps down or dies? Nobody knew about Oliver Tambo. But when Chief Luthuli disappeared from the scene, Oliver Tambo suddenly emerged. He raised and put our organisation in a political position and strength which it had never enjoyed before.
There will be life after the present president. I am not articulating my own ideas. I consult with my organisation and I put forward the settled policy of the ANC and the tripartite alliance. That alliance will still be there. The Freedom Charter, which is the basis of our policy and this constitution, whatever compromises we have made, as well as the Bill of Rights, is what will still drive the ANC.
Individuals will come and go, but the organisation and the policy will always be there. And the tripartite alliance will be there. I am therefore confident that nothing will happen over the next three years, and even after. We will continue making the successes which we have scored.
The message of national unity - all South Africans are rallying around that message. They are also welcoming that we should be the architects of a spirit of reconciliation. I think frankly, the traditionally white parties are trailing behind the people of South Africa, because the people of South Arica are really contributing to this rainbow nation. We are becoming a rainbow nation. One nation with different cultures. And that is what gives me the confidence that the successes we have achieved over these past two years, without previous experience, will be maintained in the years that lie ahead.
Economic strategy is a key battle front and labour is facing a major offensive
Two years after the country`s first democratic elections, the battle to determine the country`s economic future is hotting up.
Cosatu`s slogan, "From political freedom to economic emancipation", hits the nail on the head. Workers are all too aware that, while historic victories have been won in the political arena, the economy is still largely in the hands of a privileged minority.
Big business, on the other hand, is lamenting the fact that it no longer has exclusive access to the corridors of power and is having to compromise with labour.
Clashes are taking place in a number of arena`s - in key public institutions and policy-making forums, not to mention in the media and around the new constitution.
Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa said capital had launched one of its biggest offensives against the working class and Cosatu in particular.
"While they are the ones who speculate on the JSE, and who are putting pressure on the rand in order to achieve their agenda, they blame the fall of the rand on Cosatu in particular and labour in general," he said, speaking at the federation`s living wage conference in April.
"They boycott investment in the productive sector of the economy, retrench workers, pay themselves hefty salaries, commit fraud and white collar crime, yet blame lack of equity and unemployment on us."
The privatisation furor which broke out at the end of 1995 clearly raised the issues. But the central debate was put on ice with the drawing up of the National Framework Agreement between labour and government. Business was largely kept on the sidelines.
Big business fired their first salvo with the release of the SA Foundation`s "Growth for All" document earlier this year. Cosatu saw the document as part of an orchestrated onslaught against organised labour. And its release coincided with growing attacks against labour in certain sections of the media.
"Big business and right-wing intellectuals and economists have since the elections decided to focus their attention and resources on trying to discredit labour and its leaders," said Cosatu`s secretariat report to the Central Executive Committee meeting at the end of March.
"They have been running a well-orchestrated propaganda onslaught with the main objective of isolating Cosatu from the community.
"They want to brand us as an angry mob bent on destroying the economy. Suddenly the bosses who daily retrench, dismiss and exploit workers, want to position themselves and entrench in the mind of every member of society, that big business is for job creation and that the stumbling block to their objective is organised labour, Cosatu in particular.
"Their central argument is based on the need to defend their ideological agenda. They argue that all economic problems of the country can be resolved if the country can follow a deregulated labour market. Big business` agenda is aimed at eroding the role of the state in the economy and making any government a mere administrative arm."
Many in Cosatu believe the business offensive against labour is an attempt to cling to the privileges they had under the apartheid, where employers had the upper hand.
Shilowa said employers did not accept change. "They mistake commitment to negotiations as a sign of weakness. They want the government to move out of the economy and to leave it to them and their international counterparts.
Second class citizens
"They will be happy to have first and second class citizen workers in the labour market - those who are covered by labour legislation and enjoy certain rights and those who have no rights at all. They want a weak labour movement that is unable to challenge their power.
"While they pay themselves huge salaries, they call workers to tighten their belts. Imagine Leslie Boyd, Raymond Parsons or any of the various chief executives earning R700 a month. Yet that is precisely what they propose to pay workers."
Labour minister Tito Mboweni, also speaking at Cosatu`s Living Wage Conference, agreed that there was an ideological offensive against the progressive movement to "undermine the gains made so far and to shift the national agenda in the opposite direction".
Speaking as an ANC activist, he said: "The area of economic policy has almost been abandoned by the alliance. Before the elections, we were active, we were well organised. We could deal with many issues.
"After the elections, many of us were deployed in many different areas and we have begun to lose the strategic initiative in that area. This has allowed the reactionary forces to reorganise themselves, and begin to challenge us in the manner that they are doing, through, for example, the document, `Growth for All`.
"Before the elections, our positions were fairly formidable, and many people would think twice before they engaged us." This was no longer the case.
Mboweni said the tripartite alliance had agreed to tighten coordination around economic policy, and had appointed a three-person committee to oversee this.
"We need to ensure that we are successful, otherwise we are going to be undermined," he said.
He said the opponents of the alliance had focused on the labour market as their key area of entry. "They have made all kinds of proposals and it is very clear that they see the labour market as a starting point. And if they win the battle there, they will move to the other ones."
In resisting the business agenda, Shilowa also focused on Cosatu`s relationship with the tripartite alliance.
"We should not be diverted from our historic mission - to fight for the rights of workers and the broader society at a social, economic and political level," he said. "We remain resolute to build a workers movement with an unshakeable commitment to socialism.
"Where the ANC, SACP and the GNU adopts positions that take forward our struggles, we should be the first ones to commend them. Likewise, where there are differences, we should voice them."
But Cosatu`s independence does not mean non-alignment, he added. "Together as the alliance, we are the only force that can give political leadership to the present transformation process.
"Cosatu has an obligation to approach the ANC to support our positions, whether it be in the GNU, in Nedlac and elsewhere.
"The guarantee to a clear political future lies in strengthening the ANC and the SACP. As workers we can not rely on others to lead the struggle for change while we remain bystanders. We need to get ourselves involved in structures of the ANC and the SACP, to take our rightful place as part of the working class."
The economy and the RDP
Vishwas Satgar looks at recent economic strategy documents released by government and business
The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) was developed within the tripartite alliance as an economic alternative for South Africa. As an economic policy framework, it places the challenge of meeting basic needs at the center of economic growth and development.
On 27 April 1994, the majority of people that voted the ANC-led alliance into power, also cast votes for the realisation of the RDP. Since this political turning point, the RDP has undergone profound policy changes in the context of governance.
Besides the initial formulation of an RDP White Paper, there is currently an internal governmental initiative to produce a comprehensive economic strategy contained in a document entitled the "National Growth and Development Strategy" (NGDS). Besides the name change from RDP to GDS, the policy content of the latter departs fundamentally from the RDP.
Politically, it is best to interpret the economic policy change as the result of the balance of political forces in the transition. In other words, the economic policy- making agenda of government is highly contested. Capital, in particular big business in South Africa, although initially supportive of the RDP has now revealed its real economic agenda. This is contained in a recent document called `Growth For All` (GFA). Where does this leave the RDP?
NGDS and GFA
The NGDS is a 72-page document drawn up by planners within the now-defunct RDP office. In contrast, the GFA is a 160-page document developed by SA (Old) Mutual economists for the South Africa Foundation. SAF is an organisation comprised of big business. Within the NGDS, there are six broad policy areas identified as key `pillars` to ensure the RDP is realised. These are: employment-creation through export-led industrialisation; investing in people through training, education and health care; increased investment in household and economic infrastructure; a decisive crime prevention strategy; a targeted system of social security and social development for the poorest and most vulnerable groups in the economy and finally, accelerated transformation of the public service in order to ensure efficient and effective government. The GFA, on the other hand, proposes reform of the economy in five broad areas: greater expenditure on crime prevention as opposed to meeting basic needs, curtailing of aggregate government spending, speedy privatisation, a `flexible` labour market and a vigorous export drive.
The GFA can best be characterised as a neo-liberal economic recipe for South Africa. Its economics comes from the failed Thatcherite and Reaganite economic projects of the eighties. For a country like South Africa, the GFA will simply perpetuate inequality between the rich and the poor. In the light of this, the convergences or overlaps in the NGDS with the GFA become a major cause for concern. Some of the key areas of common ground are:
- the acceptance of an open economy that attempts to be globally competitive;
- conservative macro-economic management;
- increased expenditure on crime prevention;
- a greater role for markets as opposed to a community and state-driven development project, even with regard to the delivery of infrastructure and housing.
Implications for the RDP
If the RDP were delivered within the framework that the NGDS and the GFA share, the implications for meeting basic needs are dire. Some of the following political- economy implications include:
- Placing an emphasis on export-led growth and job creation through trade and tariff liberalisation, obscures the extent to which foreign penetration of the South African economy would lead to the demise of local industry. It is interesting that in 1995 "imports increased by more than 33 per cent while exports grew by only 15.2 per cent";
- An open economy, without exchange and capital controls, does not guarantee the inflow of direct or job creating investment. Even with the 3.5% growth spurt experienced by the South African economy, most of the foreign investment inflows into the growth cycle, have been short-term speculative portfolio investment on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange;
- Changing the quality of government expenditure and reprioritising the budget, with the aim of curtailing the fiscal deficit to below 5 %, `blunts` fiscal policy and ultimately government financial injections will not be decisive in terms of stimulating and fuelling job-creating growth;
- on the revenue side, contractionary fiscal policy suggests a decline in taxes for the rich. Between 1990 and 1995, company tax declined from 24% to 14%. In the current budget (1996/1997), the government continued this trend by drastically reducing the secondary tax on companies;
- monetary policy, in particular high interest rates (the most recent Reserve Bank B.A. rate is 14.38%) suggests a policy attempt at inflationary overkill, given that inflation is at a one digit level. The implications of high interest rates, for the poor and working class, mean inaccessible loan finance for housing and even SME development;
- the prioritisation of crime prevention privileges fiscal expenditure to protect private property over meeting basic needs and most importantly, job creation;
- creating an economic environment conducive to private sector involvement in the delivery of essential services and infrastructure undercuts the role for communities and other social movements. Delivery becomes incremental and, essentially, the market will replace a mass-driven RDP.
Politics of process
The economic policy-making stage is set for a clash. The GFA has been rejected by the ANC. Nonetheless, this obscures the convergences and possible compromises that could emerge between the ANC government and capital in South Africa. In this context, labour`s economic policy document, `Social Equity and Job Creation`, becomes decisive. In political terms, it attempts to reclaim the `left wing soul` of the RDP. The extent to which it would impact on the economic policy agenda at Nedlac, however, will depend on class struggle and the extent to which the tripartite alliance speaks with one voice.
The struggle for the RDP is at a decisive moment. If a business agenda prevails, the economic future and destiny of South Africa will not be in the interests of the working class and poor. This could have serious implications for the future of the tripartite alliance. On the other hand, if the labour agenda prevails, the RDP will take on its real meaning and the lives of all South Africans will be improved.
Globalisation and the neo-liberal agenda
When big business released its "Growth for All" document, many in the labour movement pointed out that its approach was consistent with the global neo-liberal agenda. But what is globalisation and the neo-liberal agenda?
There have been major changes in the world economy over the last 20 years. For over 100 years, industrial capitalism in its imperialist phase has been a global reality. But, since the mid 1970`s, the global character of capitalism has intensified and acquired new features. These new developments are referred to as "globalisation".
The process towards globalisation coincided with a downturn in the long period of growth and prosperity in the advanced capitalist countries. From 1945 (the end of the second World War) through to the early 1970`s there was a "golden age" in these countries. This came to an end around 1973.
There are various explanations for this downturn, including:
- a decrease in profitability in the heart-lands of capitalism because their own home markets were increasingly saturated;
- growing instability in the international money markets.
These pressures have resulted in a much more globalised world economy with the following main features:
- Over the past 20 years the international flows of capital have increased dramatically. Now, each day, billions of dollars flow (at least on computer screens) back and forth across the globe, seeking speculative gains, searching out areas for quick profits. These money flows are far beyond the control of even the most powerful governments.
- The reorganisation of production in the pursuit of greater profits and "flexibility". More and more, the major transnational corporations organise their production processes on a global scale. It is no longer just a question of investing capital in foreign gold mines, for instance. Design and production of different parts of the same commodity are now often spread out over several countries.
- These developments have stimulated (and have in turn been fostered by) the revolution in information technology. In the last 20 years there have been rapid changes in international communications - satellite TV, computers, and the Internet. These developments have greatly facilitated the massive flows of capital, and the global dispersion of production processes.
Globalisation has resulted in new but uneven industrialisation in parts of the globe - parts of Brazil, SA, and Asia. However, this variant of industrialisation has seldom resulted in the all-round development of these third-world countries.
Globalisation has also increasingly strangled the welfare state in most of the advanced capitalist countries of the north. There is growing unemployment throughout western Europe, and increasing pressure to privatise the public sector, and to slash public spending on social security. National capitalists now feel less and less constrained by national accords, as they pursue greener pastures in Taiwan, Indonesia, or Malaysia.
Above all, globalisation has greatly strengthened the power of the major financial institutions - notably the IMF and the World Bank. In the past 15 years, large parts of the third world have been "re-colonised", not through military occupation or political administrative take-overs, but through the manipulation of debt and the flow of loans. As a result of IMF-imposed Structural Adjustment Programmes, the cash-strapped continent of Africa is now exporting (yes, exporting) more money to the money-rich West, than it receives in investment and loans!
The neo-liberal agenda
Neo-liberalism is, precisely, the agenda of those who stand to benefit most from this globalisation of capitalism. It is an agenda that seeks to break down all obstructions to the absolutely free-flow of profit-seeking capital. Thus, it is:
- An agenda that campaigns against the active participation of the state in the economy - the state`s role is simply a law and order (protecting property) function. Neo-liberalism campaigns for deregulation, privatisation and drastic cutting back of public sector spending. During the height of the Cold War, the West was happy to back powerful military bureaucracies in many Third World countries - including SA. With the Cold War gone, even these former allies of the West are now seen as economic obstructions.
- An agenda that targets organised workers. It argues for "flexibility" in the labour market. It seeks to undermine national negotiation by disinvesting into poorer countries with less organised labour, or by striking separate deals with regions within countries, by campaigning for Export Processing Zones, or by calling for two- tier labour markets, etc.
- An agenda that seeks to push national economies into an export-centred strategy. The more economies are geared to exports, the more they become dependent on the goodwill of the most powerful economic forces, and the less they are able to set their own national development agendas. We vote for national governments, but more and more economic decisions get taken by unelected supra-national institutions.
Is there an alternative?
The neo-liberal agenda is bad news for workers and progressive forces worldwide. Can it be resisted? Yes it can, but this resistance needs to be intelligent and strategic. It also requires its own international co-ordination.
SA has a small to medium economy that is already very open to the world and dependent on exports and imports, we cannot seal ourselves behind a wall. We have to engage with the realities of globalisation. But in engaging we have to set, as much as possible, our own national and Southern African development agenda.
In this respect, both the RDP document and the Nedlac labour caucus document, "Social Equity and Job Creation", provide very clear alternative perspectives. This means: strengthening the capacity and sovereignty of our new national government. And it means building the organisational and strategic capacity of unions and other progressive social movements.
Six pillars for equity and jobs
A brief summary of labour`s document, "Social Equity and Job Creation: The key to a stable future"
We call on our people, on organised workers, on the unemployed, and on the democratic government, to take steps to have this programme implemented now. We call on the business community to break with the past, and to embrace the new South Africa. South Africa requires fresh social and economic policies for the new democracy, policies which mark a clear and decisive break with the policies of apartheid. Our country requires such fresh policies now.
1. The first pillar is job creation
We propose eleven measures to create jobs in South Africa.
- public works and mass housing programmes
- modernising our industrial base
- "job sharing" arrangements
- pragmatic trade and tariff policies
- expanding domestic demand and local purchasing policies
- training and retraining the workforce
- productivity increases in the economy
- creating jobs in labour intensive processes
- stopping retrenchments in the economy
- a programme of land reforms
- the stimulation of economic activity
1.1 Start public works and mass housing programmes
The housing shortage is in excess of two million units. We propose that at least 300,000 housing units be built every year over the next three years. This can create 350,000 to 550,000 jobs over a three-year period. There is an urgent need to develop infrastructure for the majority of our people. We propose an accelerated programme of public works in the provision of electricity, piped water supply, sanitation, child care facilities and health care clinics to black areas. Programmes to provide roads and major dam and canal works, and to address telecommunication inadequacies, should be put into place.
We propose a negotiated wage applicable on these public works programmes.
These programmes should: use labour-based construction methods and be designed to maximise employment; target the long-term unemployed, women and youth; place special emphasis on rural infrastructure and include a training component.
The sources of funding such programmes are the fiscus, the corporate sector and prescribed investment requirements on the retirement and long term assurance industry.
1.2 Modernise our industrial base
- the retention and expansion of fiscal measures to encourage reinvestment of corporate profits,
- a National Restructuring Fund (NRF), to finance the introduction of new technology and work organisation where companies are able to show expanded output and the creation of new jobs.
- policies to expand the savings rate in South Africa, as a critical means of financing new investment.
- serious consideration be given to the impact which the removal of exchange controls will have on flows of resources abroad, and that the state retain adequate measures to ensure that domestic assets are deployed in the national interest.
- the Financial Services Board be restructured, that its deliberations be more transparent and that labour be fully represented on the Board.
A major means to foster job creation is through the modernisation of our industrial base. A more efficient industry is able to win back parts of the domestic market that have been lost to imports. It is the essential platform from which to launch a successful export effort. A greater share of the domestic market and increased exports will lead to job creation, and the drawing of currently unemployed workers into gainful employment.
We also propose:
1.3 Share the jobs
We propose that the current high level of overtime work be strongly discouraged and, where possible, replaced by full-time new employment.
1.4 Don`t export our jobs
- A series of active industrial policy measures to improve efficiencies and the performance of companies.
- A pragmatic programme which lowers tariffs carefully, and not faster than required under the terms of GATT; a review of WTO programmes and labour representation in negotiating trade deals.
- Simultaneously, a set of social adjustment programmes which will absorb, retrain and then place into new jobs, workers displaced by restructuring.
- The Social Plan Act proposals submitted by labour to Nedlac be agreed, and that social adjustment packages be implemented at sectoral level without delay.
- Implementation of labour`s 13-point plan for the reform of Customs and Excise to stem the huge flow of goods entering South Africa illegally which results in jobs losses.
We are opposed to trade related policies which destroy local jobs.
The trade union movement accepts the need to open our economy, but we require a process that is carefully managed and sequenced in order to avoid job losses.
1.5 Expand domestic demand and promote local purchasing policies
- Policies which will expand the income of workers, hence stimulating domestic demand.
- The introduction of additional incentives through the procurement policies of national and provincial tender-boards, the SANDF and parastatals, to further encourage local job creation.
- The use of locally manufactured raw materials should be encouraged and preferences granted to companies which are expanding production for the domestic and the export market.
- We should launch a `buy local, buy fair labour standards` campaign to encourage consumers in the spirit of the `new patriotism`, to purchase goods made in South Africa, under fair labour standards.
- The introduction of a label of origin requirement on all consumer goods sold in South Africa.
There are two markets for South African goods and services - the domestic market, and the export market. The domestic market must remain an important focus for the output of our goods. The domestic market is also a major platform from which to launch a successful export effort.
1.6 Train and develop the workforce
- October 1996: 2%
- October 1997: 3%
- October 1998: 4%
International experience shows unambiguously the importance of a well-trained workforce to high growth economies.
We propose the introduction of a levy on companies of 4% of payroll, to be used to finance the retraining of workers, with supporting grants from government. This levy should be introduced initially for all firms with a turnover of at least half a million rands a year.
We propose that the levy be phased in as follows:
1.7 Increase productivity
We propose a national productivity and equity framework agreement to be negotiated through Nedlac, to cover all industries, which should be put into place before October 1996. This could be a basis, in industry-level negotiations, to address concrete targets of productivity improvement. Productivity issues should become a matter for collective bargaining.
1.8 Create jobs in labour-intensive processes
There is a vital role for the state in leading productive investment, through the policies of the parastatals and the public sector.
The IDC should shift from its fixation with capital-intensive mega-projects, and use its resources to invest in labour intensive processes in industry. Job creation should be the primary mandate of the IDC over the next 36 months.
An immediate programme to promote the beneficiation of local raw materials should be undertaken to create jobs locally.
The private sector too, should be required to invest in job-creating projects. A substantial expansion of output requires investment in new productive capacity by the business community.
1.9 Stop retrenchments now
A major cause of unemployment is the constant retrenchment by businesses of workers. Even profitable companies engage in periodic frenzies of retrenchment and `downsizing`. To us, retrenchment is often a real indictment of management, and a barometer of its incompetence.
The public sector has contributed substantially to the crisis of unemployment. Staff reductions and natural attrition/ early retirement programmes have cut the size of the public sector and parastatals dramatically.
We call for a general accord with organised labour on the restructuring process in the public sector, which seeks to address the overall interests of society.
1.10 Redistribute land to the poor
A major programme of land reform, combined with the promotion of small-scale farming among black people, can promote economic activity and employment very substantially.
We propose that active redistribution of land policies be followed, and the government immediately identifies land for redistribution. We propose that a Land Reform Commission be set up, to develop the detailed proposals by the end of this year for a comprehensive land redistribution programme.
1.11 Stimulate economic activity
This document constitutes a coherent programme towards stimulating sustainable economic activity. The current restrictive monetary policies need to be moderated in order to stimulate economic activity. The price charged by financial institutions to lend one person`s money to another person, is extreme. A large part of the public debt is payable to domestic institutions. Lower interest rates will substantially reduce the interest payable on the public debt, and will ease the budget deficit problem significantly. High interest rates, in the name of combatting inflation, are destroying the society. These policies are based on the notion that "the operation is successful, but the patient is dead". We call for a review of monetary and interest rate policies. Other, less destructive means of addressing inflation should be pursued through Nedlac, and at sectoral level.
2. The second pillar is redistributive fiscal policies
- redirect spending towards social services for the poor.
- increase the redistribution features of tax policy.
We propose two measures to ensure a more equitable fiscal policy.
In the 1995/6 fiscal year, almost R7 billion allocated for services and infrastructure for the poor, were not utilised because of problems in the delivery mechanisms in the private and public sectors.
In the private sector, the much vaunted `partnership` with the state on provision of housing, has been a failure. The private sector should not be allowed to escape its commitments to redirect investment towards the poor or to hold up the programme of providing mass housing.
Much of the existing budget should be redirected towards the required services and infrastructure. The defence budget should be cut further. One important source of income to assist in creating greater equity is to tax the wealthy.
2.1 Finance housing and health care for all
We propose the building of 300,000 houses a year, over the next three years, as a major contribution to reducing the housing shortage. This is likely to require at least R10 billion a year.
We support the introduction of the national health scheme, providing quality health care to all, including the unemployed. The full introduction of the scheme should be completed by no later than the end of 1999.
2.2 Increase corporate taxation
Corporate taxes dropped from 47% of total government income in 1970 to 14% in 1995. Further relief has been provided to corporations through a reduction in the Secondary Tax on Companies (STC) in the latest Budget. Labour proposes that effective corporate taxation be increased, through the mechanisms set out earlier in this document, through increasing the STC rate and through closing the loopholes in corporate tax. This will raise revenue to finance the RDP.
2.3 Reduce consumer tax on basic requirements
VAT is a regressive tax. Unemployed people and the very poor pay it. Workers spend a large portion of their income on items subject to this tax. Labour proposes that the VAT rate should not be increased. A Super VAT on luxury goods could be considered.
Labour proposes that no VAT be payable on all basic foods, medicines, water, domestic electricity and education. These measures will offer effective, easily- administered relief to the unemployed and to low and middle-income earners.
2.4 Introduce a tax category for the super rich
Currently, the top marginal tax rate, at 45%, is introduced on earnings above R100,000. This penalises the middle-income earners, and treats the truly wealthy very leniently. We propose the introduction of a 55% tax rate on annual incomes from R200,000. All tax loopholes utilised by the truly wealthy, such as trusts, close corporations and other dodges, should be closed immediately.
2.5 Introduce a capital gains tax
A capital gains tax should be considered, to deal with individuals who are able to amass a large tax free source of wealth. Some minimum threshold should be set, whereafter a capital gains tax should kick in. Careful consideration should be given to ensuring that the capital gains tax is structured to limit opportunities for tax avoidance.
2.6 Introduce a luxury goods tax
We propose that a special excise tax be introduced on luxury goods. Basic electronic and basic white goods (fridges, stoves, etc) should not be covered by such a basic tax.
2.7 Encourage savings through provident funds
Participation in provident funds should be encouraged through equal tax treatment of provident and pension funds, by no later than March 1997. The Smith Commission`s pension enhancement proposal for low income earners who participate in provident funds should be implemented without delay.
2.8 The debt, the deficit and equity
Italy and the United Kingdom have budget deficits of 7,4% and 5,3% of GDP. They are constrained in reducing this too quickly, because of their high levels of unemployment (Britain 7,9%, Italy 11,6%). South Africa, with a substantially higher unemployment rate is reducing its budget deficit at great speed. The deficit has been reduced from 6% of GDP to 5,1%, in the latest Budget. In 1993, it was 8% of GDP.
South Africa`s debt to GDP ratio is 55,6%. The average for the key OECD countries, that is societies not undergoing reconstruction and development, is 72%. Reducing the deficit too quickly would cause deflationary pressure on the economy, and would slow down economic growth and job creation. Low economic growth would in turn discourage investment. Deficit reduction needs to be carefully managed, and be situated in the context of a range of other economic tools and government objectives.
2.9 Tax amnesty
We propose that a final tax amnesty be declared for all taxes payable until 27 April 1994. This is intended to bring business and individuals into the tax net, and thus broaden the tax base. Such amnesty should run until the end of 1996. We propose further that the leadership of small and large businesses, labour, communities and political parties actively campaign in support of this process.
3. The third pillar is breaking the stranglehold of big business in the economy
The high levels of economic concentration in South Africa have major negative consequences on social equity, concentrating power and economic decision-making in the hands of a few and limiting economic performance.
We propose that a new anti-trust policy be negotiated to address these problems. Current efforts by conglomerates to `unbundle` are no more than corporate camouflage, which retains power and control in the small group of shareholders and their directors.
Organised labour will now set up an Anti-Trust Commission, to report with concrete proposals within the next 2 months. We will seek far reaching changes to the corporate structure in the country.
4. The fourth pillar is through improving worker rights
- strengthen worker rights through labour market measures, including the development of centralised bargaining;
- invest in training and human resource development;
- use public procurement policies to advance worker rights;
- reduce wage differentials between managerial and `blue collar` workers.
We propose four broad measures to improve the incomes and quality of life for workers:
4.1 Set up bargaining forums now
Nedlac should analyse progress in the setting up of centralised institutions in all sectors of the economy. Firm efforts should be undertaken to ensure that such forums are in place by no later than the end of 1996.
4.2 Legislate for paid maternity and child care leave
We propose the introduction of six months paid maternity leave, one week paid paternity leave, and one week child care leave.
4.3 Introduce a 40-hour week
A reduction in hours of work permits workers to have more time with their families. It recognises the large amounts of time spent in travelling to and from work. It can play a role in increasing productivity in the remaining working hours. It can have a beneficial effect on net job creation in certain sectors of the economy. We propose the introduction of a 40-hour working week for all workers.
4.4 Change the Insolvency Act
We propose changes to the Insolvency Act to introduce proper notice to the trade union and greater preference in the schedule of creditors for the contractual earnings of workers at companies put under liquidation.
4.5 Train and promote the workforce
We propose a major training and retraining programme geared towards clear career- pathing, to promote opportunities for workers. Multi-skilling of workers should be promoted to create greater flexibility, and higher wages for workers. This programme should be the real black economic empowerment programme for the corporate sector. The business community should be given an opportunity to negotiate an agreement with organised labour on clear targets for internal training and promotion through career-pathing, by October 1996. Thereafter, legislation should be introduced to ensure adherence to these targets.
4.6 Use of procurement policies
- no employment of scab labour during legal strikes;
- participation in centralised bargaining institutions where these exist;
- contribution of 4% of payroll towards training programmes agreed to with the trade union movement.
We propose that a Workers Rights Index be developed, and that companies tendering for public contracts be required to report on compliance with the standards in the index. These standards should include:
Successful tenderers should be companies who adhere to the core areas, and who perform well in the other elements of the index.
4.7 End the apartheid wage gap
A major source of inequity is the huge differentials in earnings between workers and management, a gap based largely on colour.
Recent research shows that salary increases for directors of many major companies exceed profit growth significantly.
We propose that the top 58 companies publicly agree to release information on the pay of their individual executive directors, particularly their CEO`s. This should include salary or director`s fees, pension, bonus, perquisites and share options. Information on the minimum wage payable to workers in their companies, should be made available too.
We propose further that the top 58 companies commit themselves to reducing the wage gap (including all fringe benefits and options) in the companies to no more than 1:8. This means that the earnings of the highest paid person should not be more than eight times that of the lowest paid person.
The transparency and disclosure we propose should be extended to all parts of our society, from the public sector to professions, the trade union movement, parastatals, statutory bodies, the private sector and NGO`s.
5. The fifth pillar is greater industrial democracy
- use workplace forums to strengthen shop steward structures
- reduce managerial prerogative through legislation
- grant workers 50% of the seats on company boards
- address representation on mutual insurance companies immediately
We propose four broad measures to ensure this:
5.1 Union-based Workplace Forums
We propose that all members of Business South Africa and Nafcoc agree that Workplace Forums established in terms of the new Labour Relations Act, should be trade union based forums.
This means that the shop steward committee/s at the workplace concerned should take on the powers and duties set out for Workplace Forums. Any variation from this norm should then by agreement.
We propose that two days paid leave be granted to all workers, to participate in union-run training programmes to familiarise them with the objectives of the LRA and the role of Workplace Forums.
South Africa should agree to ratify the ILO Convention on Paid Education and Training leave as a further step.
5.2 Worker participation
We propose an urgent review of the areas of current `managerial prerogative` to determine the legislative changes needed to create a culture of worker participation in economic activity.
5.3 Corporate governance
The King Report on Corporate Governance recognised the importance of workers as stakeholders. We propose that the principle of granting workers the right to elect 50% of the members on company boards be agreed. We propose that a commission be appointed to determine the legislative changes required, propose phasing in arrangements and the resources to be allocated in order to effectively implement such an arrangement.
5.4 Mutual companies
We propose that organised labour, and other representatives of policy-holders, be given immediate representation on the governing structures of the mutual companies, and that these companies be requested to commence negotiation through Nedlac on this proposal. Thereafter, appropriate legislative changes should be introduced by parliament.
6. The sixth pillar is championing economic development and worker rights internationally
- help the development of the Southern African region through technical and other assistance and aid to neighbouring countries;
- assist the growth of trade unionism as an important instrument of social development in all Southern African countries;
- campaign for a social clause to be part of all multilateral and bilateral trade agreements;
- pursue the proposal that the WTO become a tripartite body, with representation by government, labour and business;
- campaign for special market access to developed country markets for those developing countries with specified labour rights;
- champion the call of Third World countries for a debt write off by international creditors. J
We propose six broad measures to achieve this.
If you want to see the full version of "Social Equity and Job Creation", contact your union.
Cosatu gender coordinator Rose Makwane, Naledi researcher Roseline Nyman and The Shopsteward spoke to one of the ANC and SACP`s key leaders in government, deputy welfare minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi
What has the government done on women`s issues since the national elections?
Government has been involved in the formulation of gender policy, for example the gender policy document commissioned in the former RDP office. This was a much lobbied document, arising from consultation with women.
The process of preparing for the Fourth World Conference on Women (in Beijing) focussed on concrete actions that government should get involved in. Women from civil society and government came together to look at the critical areas in the Beijing Platform of Action and looked at what focus we should have as SA.
After Beijing, we revisited these. We then went to cabinet with concrete proposals on how government departments should commit themselves to advancing the cause of women`s empowerment in the country.
Out of the gender policy document came the setting up of a national machinery for advancing gender equality. This included the Commission for Gender Equality, which has now become a reality through the Gender Equality Bill.
The Gender Commission looks at monitoring and reviewing gender policies of all publicly-funded bodies. It is also an advocacy, information and education structure. It will review existing and new legislation to ensure that it promotes women`s equality and recommend changes. It will also investigate complaints on any gender-related issues and, if needed, refer these to the Human Rights Commission or the public protector.
Finally, it will monitor and report on our compliance with international conventions like the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw).
The Gender Commission is an independent body. It reports to parliament on an annual basis or as they demand. It will also report to the president as the highest political representative in the land. But it is not an implementation structure.
What about the Gender Commission`s role in relation to the private sector and employers?
It directly impacts on the private sector and is not limited to publicly-funded bodies and parastatals. Women have to use the Commission so that it serves them in the private sector as well.
According to the constitution, there is equality in all spheres - sex, race, gender, religion etc. So a gender discrimination complaint can be taken to the Gender Commission on the basis that it contravenes the constitution.
Cosatu must help make it a useable structure for working women.
We make structures as useful as we wish to by utilising those structures.
What about ordinary women? Will they be able to get access to the commission to forward their complaints?
This Gender Commission will be broadly representative of South Africa, reflecting our country`s diversity. It will have seven to 11 commissioners. We foresee that the commission will have provincial offices and structures accessible to grassroots women.
Women`s advocacy groups must also ensure that women have access to the structures.
It was argued that the Human Rights Commission (HRC) made it almost unneccessary to have a Gender Commission, because gender or women`s rights are also human rights. But the humanity of women is often overlooked. It is assumed and violated.
It will be a very difficult and challenging task for the Gender Commissioners to ensure that the structure is taken seriously.
Can you tell us about the Office on the Status of Women?
The OSW is located within the executive. It is a structure that links directly into the civil service. The civil service runs a bit like the military, very patriarchal. We feel it should be located within the highest political structure of government in the deputy president`s office so that it will be treated with seriousness. It will then have a direct voice to cabinet.
We want a CEO who will interact at the level of the director generals and participate in the planning processes.
This office should take forward the national women`s empowerment policy; act as a catalyst for affirmative action working with line ministries and provinces.
Essentially it will look at integrating a gender perspective - the mainstreaming of gender - into all policies and programmes of government departments and all publicly funded bodies.
The OSW will have to arrange training in gender analysis and initiate cross sectoral action in areas that cut across line functions, for example, on the issue of violence against women, the OSW can go to Sydney Mufamadi and say that they need training programmes that make police officers more sensitive to how they handle rape and assualt cases.
The OSW will play a coordinating and an initiating role. It will initiate research and programmes which can then be moved into a government ministry and policy-oriented research consulting with civil society and parliament. It`s got a tough job.
Thus, the Gender Commission will almost play a policing role. The OSW has a more implementation function.
Labour can also say to the OSW: we have this list of commitments from government impacting on our constituency, but nothing has really happened, why so?
So labour can have access to government departments very directly, because the OSW must also interact with civil society. And this is the cutting edge of civil society, not only using parliament as a lobby, but talking directly to the administration.
What about the gender focal points in each department? For instance, the department of labour, how will we as women in Cosatu interact with the focal point?
Each department will have to explain how they intend interfacing with the various organs of civil society. But the focal point on gender is also a very necessary structure for the OSW to work with. Because the OSW will probably only have five or six people working in it. So they need links within departments that will be able to do the monitoring of policy and programmes, eg the allocation of budgets and labour practices in relation to women. So they have an interdepartmental function and an intradepartmental function.
We feel that if the Gender Focal Points are below a certain level of the civil service, they are not going to be a very effective instrument or mechanism within government.
Have constitutional changes and changes to various laws advanced women`s position?
When we came into government we had a very progressive constitution but we did not have legislation that reflected that constitution. As a result, government departments had to focus on rewriting and redrafting legislation to ensure that it reflects the constitution eg. the Child Care Act didn`t take into consideration the protections for children in the constitution, and that we have ratified the Conventions on the Rights of the Child.
The new constitution will much more clearly spell out the right of women to have control over their reproductive health. It seems that the debate will go in the direction of women`s right to choose.
Generally speaking, I`m very optimistic about the new constitution.
What about the Constitution and Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw)?
Equality is well and good but we know that areas impacting on private and family life are more difficult to deal with. We need to look at the constitution in relation to Cedaw seeing that we have ratified Cedaw without reservation.
For example, in the constitution we have the question of the equality clause and the issue of traditional leaders and laws. Fortunately, in our constitution, the fundamental rights overrule any other area of the constitution. Cedaw very clearly says that cultural, customary and religious practices that are discriminatory should be dealt with by the state.
Some people were cautious when we were ratifying Cedaw as they were saying that we have certain realities in SA. But we also have the reality of the interim constitution and soon a new constitution. We need to equip SA women to understand the fact that we actually have a very powerful document to test those realities against. This would be a role of the Commission for Gender Equality.
What is the progress around the Maintenance Act? We know that mothers have big problems in claiming maintenance for child support. Is your department working on any proposals to amend this legislation?
Our department is in discussion with justice on this, because we feel that it`s not only the Maintenance Act, it`s also how it has been implemented in the courts when women go and make claims. To a large extent they are almost treated as though they are the offenders. We feel that, together with justice, we need to ensure more efficient follow-up on maintenance grant payments.
This is an issue we feel very strongly about as welfare. We feel that the government is picking up the tab where there are able-bodied fathers who are working but are reneging on the responsibility of caring for their children. We see no need, especially where parents are economically active, for the state to take responsibility for that.
I have addressed meetings, whether it involves trade unionists or general civic meetings, the minute you talk about men`s responsibility to pay maintenance, they go green around the chin. Because you can see that there are a number of men in the meeting who are not paying maintenance to their children. If it doesn`t change we must actually make examples of a few prominent males, and there are a number of them: MP`s, trade unionists, civic leaders, the whole works.
To a large extent government maintenance grants have been paid essentially to white, coloured and Indian women, and to a limited extent to the African community. We are working towards equity. But the reality is that the state does not have funds to extend grants to everyone who requires it. We have set up the Lund Commission to review the cash payment of maintenance grants. The Lund Commission will also contact Cosatu around this.
We are saying we look at how we can use that money in a fashion where it will reach more women.
The important thing is that the money is not lost in the general budget but should be reserved for women`s issues.
Yes, that we will battle for. Separately from this, we`ve started a programme that looks at accessing unemployed women and children under five. There is the presidential programme for children up to the age of six - the free health scheme and school feeding scheme. But the very children who are getting free health, are they getting food?
We`re looking at piloting 30-40 programmes to target unemployed women. It`s a bit of a test drive for us, getting women involved in various kinds of programmes which at the same time also look at their children having access to both nutrition and early childhood development. If it succeeds we will replicate it on a bigger scale.
What is the department doing in relation to childcare in the community, because that is a big concern for women, especially women workers.
This has not been targetted as a special programme at this point in time. We are discussing it with education. Sectoral organisations in the childcare or the educare field approached welfare when we drafted our White Paper to look at early childhood development. We have come out with a policy position on this, but we need to translate that into practice even though we do not have specifically allocated funds.
There seems to have been a lull in the mass organisation of women. Could you speak about what you think the priorities are or the form that this should take.
Women`s organisation and mass women`s organisation has been a very difficult issue over recent years.
In 1956 we had 20,000 women marching against the pass laws. It was massive at that moment in history and it`s a lesson we should learn. We must find an issue and we should mobilise around that issue. Violence against women is one issue that cuts across women irrespective of class and race, it even cuts across gender to a certain degree. But we need to deal with gender relations in the process of dealing with violence against women. Because we know that violence is being used as a tool to dominate women. It has been one way of keeping women down and preventing them from being able to interact fully.
There has been mobilisation through the National Women`s Coalition around the issue of the Women`s Charter and that has been achieved. But we failed to draw out of that a particular issue that will take forward mobilising or force women into mobilising around the question of women`s empowerment and gender.
We started a movement in government by saying to government: you`ve made a commitment to Beijing, we want to see it implemented. We are going to demand that there is gender training within government in order to make both men and women more sensitive to gender issues.
So we have started a particular process, but civil society needs to match that. And how that is going to be done is through women coming together in their respective sectors and networking around issues. We should take it away from personalities and locate it around issues and say: this is the one issue that cuts across all of us. Let`s mobilise around it.
Another issue that`s vital is women and poverty. Surely women in labour and business can come together with women in civil society. Poverty, joblessness and unemployment cuts across a number of strata.
It is as though we felt since the beginning of the nineties that we don`t need to strategise anymore, we don`t need to write critically any longer or think innovatively, and we need to reactivate this. Quite a lot is happening, but we`re not networking around it so we`re not feeling the impact of it.
How do you cope with your role as an MP, as deputy minister, as a mother, as a very active person? Where do you get the energy to do all these things?
I sometimes think I don`t cope, I think my kids cope better than I do. It`s difficult. And I`m not only a mother, I`m also a wife and a partner. Sometimes I wonder if Jabu [Moleketi, Gauteng Finance MEC] thinks he does have a partner.
I can call on family support. It`s particularly difficult when I have to be in Cape Town and Jabu needs to travel as well. This year he is becoming a more active parent as the kids are in Gauteng.
I rely on other women, and domestic help. During the day, there is somebody who helps and then she takes a break and my brother`s partner comes in and spends the afternoon with the kids to do homework and then in the evening the lady comes in until Jabu comes home. So it is again the burdens that women carry. Ironically, he is quite gender sensitive but I must do the planning around how I manage the house.
I always say that politics was structured in a way where it was for men over 40 with good wives who looked after their families. Now that we have younger parents in politics, we need to be innovative about it. And it`s tough. You take a lot of vitamin tablets too...
But it`s not only women in politics, it`s also women in the union movement, every part of life. Because the very lady who helps me on the domestic arena, someone else has to assist with her family as well.
You raised the very issue of women workers not having access to childcare facilities. That`s the unfortunate reality of the lives of many women. I wish for the day when we have resolved all these issues. It`s a long time to go, but we`re going to work towards it bit by bit. It`s just not going to happen very quickly.
Cosatu women`s conference
Cosatu will be holding its third National Women`s Conference in Johannesburg from 17-19 May. The theme of the conference will be `Social Equity for women workers now`.
Guest speakers during the event include:
- senator Joyce Kgoadi on the role of women in government,
- eputy welfare minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi on the Beijing Platform for Action and the implementation process
- NC deputy secretary general Cheryl Carolus on women leadership and the challenges of building organisation.
Commissions will be held on:
- Women and work,
- Women`s struggles and the need for a strong women`s movement,
- Women and globalisation,
- Building organisation, and
- The integration and implementation process, including the Sexual Harassment Code of Conduct, resolutions on women and gender issues, and the Beijing Platform for Action.
This will be Cosatu`s first women`s conference since the democratic elections. The second Cosatu National Women`s Conference was held in August 1992.
The Beijing Platform for Action
The Beijing Platform for Action (PFA) is a product of the Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing in September 1995. At the same time as the Conference, the NGO Forum of Women was also held. The Conference`s main aim was to investigate obstacles to women`s advancement and to propose concrete strategies for implementation by governments, employers and trade unions, thus the PFA. Cedaw and the PFA complement one another. Cedaw lists key areas of women`s oppression and the PFA builds on this, outlining specific actions that governments need to take. Its core elements are:
- The persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women;
- Unequal access to and inadequate educational facilities;
- Inequalities in access to health and related services;
- Violence against women;
- Advance peace, promote conflict resolution and reduce the impact of armed and other conflict on women;
- Inequality in women`s access to, and participation in, economic structures and policies, and the productive process itself;
- Inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels;
- Insufficient mechanisms at all levels to promote the advancement of women;
- Lack of awareness and commitment to internationally recognised human rights of women;
- Inequality in women`s participation in all communications systems, especially the media, and the media`s failure to promote women`s contribution to society.
What is Cedaw?
In December 1995, South Africa adopted the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (Cedaw).
Cedaw is a United Nations (UN) convention. South Africa is a member of the UN and the convention is therefore binding on the SA government.
The Convention calls on our government to take steps to promote equality between women and men and to eliminate discrimination against women and girls. Cedaw is like a Bill of Rights or an International Women`s Charter for women as it attempts to address all aspects of women`s lives. It has sixteen Articles (chapters) on the following:
- Discrimination: The state must ensure the eradication of discrimination against women.
- Policy measures: The state will take policy measures to promote women`s equality.
- Guarantee of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms: The state must take measures to improve women`s position in political, social, economic and cultural fields.
- Affirmative action: The state may give women special treatment in employment, education, housing and other areas.
- Sex role attitudes and prejudice: The state must implement measures such as education to eradicate views that women are inferior to men.
- Prostitution: The state must make sure that women are not treated like objects that can be bought and sold.
- Equality in politics and government: Women should be treated as equals in politics, government and NGOs.
- Participation in international affairs: There is a need for more women ambassadors and other country representatives internationally.
- Citizenship: Men and women must have equal citizenship rights.
- Education: The state must ensure there is no discrimination against women and girls in education.
- Employment: Women must have equal employment opportunities and rights in the workplace.
- Health care and family planning: Women must have equal access and adequate health care and family planning programmes.
- Economic and social benefits: Women must have equal rights to family benefits, bank loans, mortgages, recreational activities, sports and cultural life.
- Special help for rural women: Participation in developmental planning, access to health care services, social security programmes.
- Law: The law must treat women and men equally.
- Marriage and family life: Equality in marriage and divorce, equal property rights.
The UN will establish an International Cedaw Committee to monitor governments` progress in implementing the Convention. South Africa will have to submit a progress report to the UN once a year.
South Africa`s adoption of Cedaw indicates the government`s commitment to remove discrimination against women. However, the government needs to go further by implementing policy measures that include legislation, budget reform and the establishment of monitoring agencies.
Western Cape workers gear up for elections
Many of Cosatu`s Western Cape members may have voted National Party in the country`s first democratic election, despite the federation being part of the ANC alliance.
The Western Cape chairperson of Cosatu, Elias Maboee, said the NP`s scare tactics during the run-up to the elections had found effect among many rank and file members.
He is convinced though that "workers have learnt a lot since then" and was confident that the alliance would do well in the May 29 local election He said he had recently spoken to workers in Bellville in Cape Town`s Northern suburbs. They admitted they had voted for the National Party two years ago.
One had told him: "I voted for the NP in 1994, but I will never make the same mistake again. We were not politically inclined and believed that our houses would be taken away after election."
The fact that the ANC governed the country would further spur people to vote for it, he said, since people are inclined to back `the winning horse`.
Maboee told The Shopsteward that the federation had not put up a list of candidates for the local government elections, unlike the other alliance partners the ANC, SACP and Sanco.
"We simply participated in the list conferences and, in the process, several Cosatu mebers were nominated to the ANC-alliance list or as ward candidates."
Adelaide Buso from South African Domestic Worker`s Union (Sadwu) heads the list for the Southern substructure, CWIU`s Danny Brown is a ward candidate in Elsies River while Doris Neewat of the South African Democratic Teacher`s Union (Sadtu) contests a seat in the Eastern Sub-structure.
Other Cosatu leaders or members contesting the election are: Andrew Madella, who is second on the ANC list for the Metropolitan Council, Elias Maboee himself and Jan Coetzee from the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa).
Maboee conceded that Cosatu`s election machinery was not yet in full swing and that affiliates were not responding very well but was sure that this would change soon.
"We will be going from factory to factory soon as well as hold house meetings in communities so that we also reach out to housewives and others who are not members."
In addition, Cosatu`s national leaders have also committed themselves to work in the campaign. "Sam Shilowa and John Gomomo are amongst the NEC members who will come to this region to bolster our campaign," Maboee said.
In recent months, Cosatu affiliates have been engaged in several key campaigns. Public sector unions have co-operated in a bid to stop privatisation of state assets. CWIU has embarked on a range of activities to highlight their demand for centralised bargaining while Sactwu has put a strong case against the reduction of tariffs.
Maboee said Cosatu`s numerical strength in the Western Cape had increased significantly over the last two years with Sasbo joining and the South African Agricultural, Plantation and Workers Union (Saapawu) growing steadily. He said numbers would swell further when Potwa and Peasa merge at the end of the month.
Maboee was quite frank in his assessment of how the alliance functions in the region. "We only meet when there are crises and important campaigns. Currently we co- ordinate our election activities through the Provincial Elections Team (PET). We recognise the need to build a more structured relationship. We believe that a clear programme will emerge after the election which will bind the alliance partners closer together. The programme will be aimed at delivery of basic services and needs to the community."
The federation, said Maboee, was also involved in a range of key initiatives. One such initiative has been to set up a series of meetings with the railway authorities in an attempt to safeguard workers who travel by rail.
"Our members regularly get robbed on trains. We believe it our duty to ensure that our members arrive home safely."
Cosatu is also in the process of setting up `residential locals` aimed at creating support structures for the workers. "We established these structures in Mfuleni, Blue Downs, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu and are on the verge of setting one up in Mitchell`s Plain. Some of them work quite well." Outside the Cape Metropole, Cosatu residential locals function in Worcester and Beafort West.
Maboee rejects the suggestion that Cosatu in the region has no teeth. "People must not think that Cosatu is dead," he warns. "We only started preparing for the action around the lock-out clause seven days before the event."
"Yet, he added, "it was not difficult for us to mobilise workers for the lock-out protests and for May Day."
"The newspapers say about 20% of workers stayed away. However, most clothing workers clocked in in the morning and left at 10 am to go to the march. Many of them were fearful of the bosses` threat that they would lose two days pay should they stay away a day before a public holiday."
Our assessment is that between 60% and 70% of workers participated in the march on parliament, while large groups marched in Worcester and Beaufort West.
Meanwhile, the federation will put much of its resources into the local election campaign in coming weeks.
It is only on May 30 that one will know whether Maboee`s contention of a significant swing to the ANC will be proved or disproved.
Catching up with Scargill
British National Union of Mineworkers president Arthur Scargill was in South Africa recently at the invitation of our own NUM. He was returning a visit made by a group of senior South African NUM leaders to Britain and Europe to study how downscaling of those mining industries have been dealt with. Scargill rose to prominence as the leader of one of the biggest and longest strikes in Thatcherite Britain when, in 1984, the NUM took on the British government over plans to close many coal pits and toss several thousand workers out of their jobs. The Shopsteward caught up with Scargill for this interview just as he was about to depart from Johannesburg International Airport.
Shopsteward: What forms of assistance has the British NUM been discussing with the South African NUM?
Scargill: I think the NUM in Great Britain and the NUM in South Africa can give each other assistance. The last ten or 15 years demonstrates that very clearly. In the 1960s and 70s, before the (South African) NUM was officially launched, we were actually sending mining engineers over to South Africa to help out with inquiries taking place because we wanted miners to have the best possible representation. The second thing that we intend to do in co-operation with the NUM in South Africa is to have exchanges whereby we can send miners over to the Northern College in Yorkshire, and possibly some of our miners can come over here to South Africa to see exactly what`s happening post-apartheid.
The British NUM group which has been in South Africa this last while, what have they been doing?
They`ve been in deep discussion with members of the NUM NEC and its national leadership with a view to doing a number of things. First of all, cementing relationships and trying to get the exchanges off the ground. But secondly, trying to persuade our brothers in South Africa that there ought to be one single international organisation for all mineworkers. We have a saying in Britain, "Judge your friends by the company they keep". The NUM in South Africa are members of the ICEM (International Chemical, Energy and Mining workers), which is an affiliate of the ICFTU. The ICEM is supporting the American blockade of Cuba. We in the British NUM are members of the IEMO (International Energy and Mineworkers Organisation). We are totally in support of Cuba and condemn the Americans absolutely for their intervention and blockade. We would hope that if the ICEM refuses to have a merger with the IEMO, then the South African NUM will come to join us. That`s my hope in any case, and I know that there is no doubt in the minds of people like Manne Dipico, who was in Algeria in 1993, and who proposed that there should be one international, and made that proposition on behalf of the South African NUM. We accepted it and the MIF (Miners` International Federation) as it then was, rejected any proposal for a merger. So, judge your friends by the company they keep.
In your address to the NUM Central Committee meeting in Pretoria you made a number of proposals for fighting unemployment, proposals you suggested could be implemented fairly speedily even under capitalism, and with immediate results. Can you detail these and why you think they`re a solution?
The proposals are not all that revolutionary. In fact there were similar resolutions put forward almost 80 or 90 years ago in many Western countries where workers were working a regular six-day week at that time. When the argument was for a five- day working week, people threw up their hands in horror and said it wasn`t possible to do it.
My answer to unemployment, whether in South Africa or Great Britain, is to introduce immediately a four-day working week with no loss of pay, to ban all non-essential overtime, and thirdly - and most important of all - offer early retirement on full pay to all workers at the age of fifty-five. That would put into full employment all the thousands - and in some cases millions - of people who are unemployed. Britain, for example, has over seven million people of employable age who haven`t got a job. Now that is quite frankly unacceptable, and I`m sure the situation in South Africa is probably even worse.
One of the consequences of the 1984 miners` strike was that many of the Derbyshire miners split off from the NUM to form the Union of Democratic Miners. Now, more than a decade later, what are relations with the UDM like?
People don`t normally ask me questions about an organisation I don`t even want to talk about. I regard them as puppets of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and as far as I`m concerned, they`re an outfit established with the support of the Conservative government. I want nothing to do with them, and the sooner we smash them the better.
Earlier this year you announced that you were resigning from the Labour Party to found the Socialist Labour Party. Why have you taken what appears a rather drastic step?
The reason the Socialist Labour Party has been born is because the Labour Party decided to call itself the New Labour Party, and abandon any commitment to socialism, or to common ownership of the means of production. The leadership of the Labour Party ditched clause four of the party`s constitution which committed it to these principles. Let me give you an example. If the Christian church decided to abandon any commitment to Christianity, and instead decided to promote atheism, I suspect you`d have a lot of people departing from the established church.
In my view, those people who are now joining Socialist Labour are doing so because they believe in socialism. They believe in common ownership and reject the free market. And they certainly reject the concept of the laissez-faire economic system which capitalism inevitably introduces and implements.
Do you foresee a time when Socialist Labour will enter into an alliance with other socialist groupings, like the Socialist Workers` Party for example?
No, because we believe that if our constitution is correct, and we`re convinced that it is, then workers should have no difficulty in joining our organisation. Its constitution was conceived and put into place by working men and women. We believe we got it right, and if that`s the case, then we would hope that people from all left parties would see the sense of joining our organisation. If you form any federation, which some people want to do and we firmly rejected it, it`s simply a recipe for internecine warfare, and continual in-fighting within the organisation. That we are not prepared to do. We want to see Socialist Labour being built into a mass party.
To give you some idea of its current success, we are already in a position where we can say we`ve got more members than the Communist Party of Great Britain, and we are trying to persuade people in the CPGB to recognise that their place ought to be in our party. But that of course is a matter for them. Secondly, in the Hemsworth parliamentary by-election we did remarkably well. In fact, if we repeated that performance throughout Britain, and we have proportional representation, we would have 35 seats in parliament. That`s just to give you some indication of how much of an impact Socialist Labour has already made.
Our own NUM is considering a merger with our metal union, Numsa. Is that the route for the British NUM to go in a situation in which it is projected the workforce in the coal-mining industry will decline drastically in the next few years?
I think that if the South African NUM is looking to a merger with the metal union it`s absolutely the right thing to do. I don`t think a federation would work, but I certainly think a merger would work. In Britain, mergers and amalgamations are things that the trade union movement should look towards, because it`s only by unity in action that workers can defend their interests. That, after all, is what trade unionism is all about.
Any last thoughts about your visit here before you go through customs?
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to South Africa. This was my second visit. In 1992 I was privileged to be invited by the ANC to speak at the People`s Parliament rally in Cape Town. I was delighted this time to go back to Cape Town and go inside the parliament building, now of course under an ANC government. So that was a very proud moment for me, and I`m very pleased to have renewed acquaintances with a lot of old friends, including people like Cyril Ramaphosa, Marcel Golding, all the friends I`ve got within the NUM, and a very, very dear friend of mine, Manne Dipico, who is now of course the premier of the Northern Cape.
Women workers seek regional solidarity
Saccawu gender coordinator Patricia Appolis looks at the value of regional networking between union women
The need for linking up with the other trade union women in the rest of Africa has become a necessity, especially in the context of globalisation. The impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes and Exporting Processing Zones is most severely felt by women. There is a need to share experiences and to unite to strive for a better world.
Trade union women are working together in the South African Region on two fronts - through the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordinating Council (Satucc) and more recently, the Annual Southern African Trade Union Women`s Forum (ASATUWF).
Satucc was formed in 1983 to build worker unity and strong unions in the region. It has set up a Women`s Committee to co-ordinate and ensure that gender programmes are integrated into various structures of national centres and co-ordinate campaigns around gender equality.
In addition, The Social Charter of Fundamental Rights of Workers in Southern Africa includes a section on Gender Rights, which calls for an end to discrimination based on sex, the strengthening of parental rights, the provision of day care centres and an affirmative action programme for women workers.
However, Satucc faces severe constraints in concretely implementing these resolutions and commitments. A major weakness is the lack of resources. National centres have also not prioritised regional networking or working out ways to implement the resolutions and strengthen unions in the region.
The idea of an Annual Trade Union Women`s Forum was mooted two years ago. Satucc and Cosatu played a key role in ensuring that the idea got off the ground. The main objective of ASATUWF is to empower trade union women through regional co- operation. The forum meets to discuss common issues of concern and develop recommendations. Before the meeting of the forum, countries meet to draw up country reports to feed into the meeting of the forum. This whole process is facilitated by a Facilitation Committee.
So far, the forum has met twice and will convene again in September 1996.
Satucc and ASATUWF do overlap as both draw on the same national centres and countries. The relationship between the two structures is being debated.
To some degree women in the region experience similar problems and constraints. This is more so for the countries that are still rebuilding their economies due to conflict situations, for example, Mozambique and Angola.
But it is also clear that working women in Southern Africa have not done enough to co-operate and to unite with each other. This is evidenced by the fact that there is very little or no scientific data on the working conditions of women in Southern Africa or solidarity support between them. There have been no regional campaigns on issues affecting all of us.
We have made a start and we do have these structures, it is our responsibility to ensure that we strengthen the network within the Southern African region. It should be our priority to build and strengthen women trade union structures within the region.