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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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National Congress  |  Resolutions

6th National Congress Resolutions

16 - 19 September 1997

Building the Organisation

Political Strategy and Vision

Declaration on GEAR

International Policy

Declaration on International Solidarity

Building the Organisation

    Role of COSATU

  1. COSATU must intervene in affiliates where it has identified problems, where problems have been brought to its attention and / or has been requested to do so. The CEC should draw guidelines on how and under which circumstances the federation and its structures may intervene taking into account clauses 3.9 and 3.10 of the constitution. Such intervention should not undermine affiliates where such problems exist.


  2. COSATU leadership must be visible during major disputes between affiliates and employers and co-ordinate solidarity with workers involved in such disputes.


  3. This require resources and certain powers to be concentrated in the federation to enable it to intervene effectively in the sectors both in terms of enforcing federation policy and assisting weaker sectors.


  4. The balance between the centrality of the federation and the autonomy of affiliates should be clearly spelt out.


  5. The CEC should use the September Commission proposals to build the capacity of COSATU and affiliates.


    COSATU Demarcation

  6. All affiliates must be compelled to implement COSATU decisions.


  7. COSATU must be empowered to enforce decisions that relate to poaching of members. Any affiliate that currently holds membership in a sector that is not classified as their scope in terms of current COSATU demarcation, should hand over such membership to the affiliate organising in that sector within a period of not more than six months.


  8. Any affiliate which breaches the terms of this resolution, shall be subject to sanction by the CEC.


  9. Congress agree in principle to the establishment of key broadly defined sectors/cartels within the federation such as Manufacturing, Mining and Energy, Public Sector, Private Sector Services and Agriculture as outlined in the Secretariat report. These sectors should be organised into cartels that should take responsibility for defining sector policy, take responsibility for collective bargaining and set parameters for all other union work of national competence. The CEC should finalise the precise number of broad sectors.


  10. The congress mandates the first CEC to commission a study on the implication of broad sectoral unions and how to establish them taking into account its implications on the following areas:
    • accountability & mandates
    • bureaucracy
    • service to membership
    • administration
    • worker control


  11. The mergers and process for such broad sectors should be completed by the next congress (three years).


  12. In the meantime the CEC must ensure that no affiliate varies its scope into an area already covered by the scope of another affiliate.


    Women Leadership

  13. To ensure that all workers are equal as stated in the new constitution. To fight against all forms of discrimination against women, and to promote affirmative action in the workplace, unions, federation and society i.e. education and training. To ensure that women take up more meaningful positions of leadership and reflect more equitable representation within society. These principles should also be contained in the workers charter.


  14. To defend women workers from all forms of exploitation, oppression and abuse; and to educate them about their rights regarding these issues.


  15. To encourage all affiliated unions to elect women as shop stewards at every workplace where there are women members. Women must be encouraged to become shop stewards with the assistance of organisers. Where they are not elected as shop stewards they could be elected as alternates who must be provided with training.


  16. To encourage unions to negotiate time-off for women to ensure effective participation in programmes of COSATU and affiliates as a way of empowering them.


  17. To target groups of men to be trained on gender issues so to assist in women development. The barriers that exists between female and male workers need joint efforts to be broken down.


  18. The Gender Sub Committee of COSATU should play a more active role in the work of affiliates and report to the Executive which should ensure compliance by affiliates of all agreed positions.


  19. All affiliates should appoint full time Gender Co-ordinators.


    National Women’s Movement

  20. COSATU should initiate the building of a national women’s movement led by the Alliance to advance the needs of working class women based on concrete issues facing them.


  21. There is a need for a Conference of the Alliance to be held in 1998 to further concretise this issue. COSATU must engage on an internal preparatory process as a build up towards such a conference. The CEC is mandated to look at how best to effect this decision.


  22. The following measures should be taken to ensure the implementation of this resolution:


  23. COSATU should popularise this resolution amongst its workers by educating male workers on the relationship between capitalism and oppression and exploitation of women, parental responsibility, etc.


  24. NEDCOM should ensure that all resolutions on women are included in the training manuals.


  25. The Shopsteward magazine should include series of articles on gender issues.


    In the Workplace

  26. To forward the following demands on non-discrimination and affirmative action in every negotiation and to campaign and fight for an agreement by employers which should include the following:


    1. Companies commit themselves to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in the company.


    2. To commit themselves to investigating forms of affirmative action to reverse the effects of past discrimination. The investigations will be designed to lead to an agreed programme of affirmative action, which will result in:


      1. all jobs in the company being open to women workers. COSATU and its affiliates should initiate a campaign to increase employment of women in all sectors, and that each affiliate set appropriate targets and framework to realise this goal. The Federation must monitor this process as well as ensure that the provisions of the Employment Equity legislation are observed.


      2. appropriate training programmes, including literacy training, for all women workers, which do not unfairly discriminate against male workers;


      3. equal pay for work of equal value.


  27. The Federation and its affiliates should conduct research into forms of affirmative action in the workplace, occupations, wage levels, and forms of discriminations against women workers in the factories.


  28. To actively campaign around health, safety and environmental issues affecting women workers - in particular; cervical cancer, aids and working conditions for pregnant women.


  29. All company Health and safety committees should include women.


  30. The Federation should develop and campaign for the implementation and upgrading of parental rights in all workplaces. These should include paid maternity leave, childcare leave and child care facilities. The following issues should become part of our demands in centralised bargaining;


    Parental rights agreement

  31. Companies to pay for health screening for women workers. A binding sexual harassment code must be negotiated in the NEDLAC Labour Market Chamber. The code should provide for companies to pay for shop stewards to be trained by the union.


    In the union

  32. To take the following steps to encourage participation and leadership of women in all our activities and structures:


    1. Encourage the appointment of women as Organisers as well as other senior positions in the Federation and its affiliates.


    2. Step up our education of both men and women on women’s issues. Step up the special education of women in such areas as skills training and broad union issues.


    3. Take disciplinary action against all those violating the sexual harassment code of COSATU and its affiliates.


    4. Ensure the proper discussion of women’s issues at all union meetings and structures.


    5. To allocate adequate resources to enable the federation to implement policies on women empowerment.


    6. Childcare facilities be provided at all meetings.


    7. Where meetings take place after hours, the union should be sensitive to the needs of women, by for example, arranging transport for women comrades for after hours meetings.


    8. Women should be encouraged to attend meetings at all levels.


    9. Workplace general meetings should include women’s issues.


    10. Affiliates should operationalise COSATU`s Sexual Harassment Code.


    Build our women’s structures as follows

  33. The Federation should continue to ensure that Regional and Local Gender fora are properly co-ordinated, and to establish these structures where they do not exist.


  34. COSATU and its affiliates should ensure the inclusion of women within any required delegations to meetings, conferences, congresses and workshops.


  35. The CEC should develop a broad political programme with a specific focus to develop and deepen the consciousness of our members on gender issues, building women leadership, their capacity in the federation and in affiliates, promote their participation in structures as well as eliminate gender imbalances and all forms of gender discrimination. Furthermore, the CEC should set and monitor the implementation of measurable targets by affiliates and the federation to achieve the above. Affiliates and the federation should share information on progress as well as education programmes.


  36. In addition to the above, the CEC should also consider proposals in the September Commission related to building women leadership with the exclusion of the areas which have been resolved by congress.


    Strengthening organisation

  37. COSATU to strive for building the trade union movement and its capacity to defend and advance the transformation process in our country and the interests of workers and the working class. To strengthen the role and capacity of the federation in taking up the problems and challenges facing working people and their communities


  38. COSATU to build programmes of unity in action to resist attempts by capital to divide and mislead workers.


  39. To request the CEC to address the staffing and financial situation of the trade union movement:


    Give greater focus to the staffing resources

  40. Eliminate work duplication, and increase the productivity of all staff in the federation, including where necessary, through the consolidation of the number of posts.


  41. Improve the service to members at workplace level, both in dealing with day to day problems, and in campaigns to change working conditions.


  42. Develop a uniform set of conditions of employment and training, for all staff in the federation and its affiliates, with a common wage structure, which applies to all affiliates, and the federation. The federation and its affiliates should commit themselves to full disclosure of information to effect this paragraph.


  43. A new sense of belonging to a single organisation has to be cultivated in the federation. This requires that we eliminate destructive competition amongst affiliates. In this regard:


    1. Each affiliate should be obliged to release or second staff when requested by the Executive after analysis of the problems faced by another affiliate. The onus of payment for seconded staff should be on the seconding affiliate, unless the affiliate receiving assistance can afford to pay, or as decided by the CEC or EXCO.


    2. Unions should agree to co-operate and share resources, including rental of office space, hiring of office equipment, employing organisers and other staff in rural areas where the potential membership of all or most affiliates is insufficient to sustain the opening of offices and the employment of organisers in terms of the relevant affiliate constitutions. Control of these resources should be placed under joint committees established by co-operating affiliates.


    3. COSATU RECs should be empowered to encourage these negotiations and to identify areas where this type of cooperation is possible. Such cooperation should be subject to the decision of the NEC’s of unions affected and subject to periodic review. If, as a result of the success of this strategy, the membership of one affiliate grows to the point where it can afford to open a branch or local office, such a union should be able to negotiate its withdrawal from such cooperation.


    4. Resources such as media skills and the production of union newsletters should be shared, particularly education materials such as organisers’ manuals.


    5. While steps should be taken to assist affiliates, no union should be allowed to abuse these measures to claim permanent poverty whilst it is mismanaging its resources - financial and human.


    6. COSATU and affiliates should commit themselves to a campaign for organisational renewal.


  44. The CEC should look at the September Commission recommendations on building organisation for implementation where appropriate.


  45. To build a stronger layer of leadership in order to compensate for the loss of skills as trade union activists are deployed in other structures, through:


    1. Creating regional internal forums where debates can take place regularly.


    2. Active engagement in campaign and struggles, which still provide the best school for trade union leaders.


    3. Strengthening the federation’s capacity to deliver training to shop stewards and staff, through its own staff and through other trade union educational institutions, and to make financial resources available from affiliates for this function.


  46. To facilitate the growth of the federation through:


    1. A major new recruitment drive to reach at least a 50% level of unionisation of COSATU affiliates in all sectors.


    2. Seconding experienced trade unionists at national and regional level to assist the federation to run these campaigns.


    3. Opening doors to affiliates of other federations who seek to join COSATU.


    4. A membership drive among workers that COSATU has not traditionally organised including layers of vulnerable workers, white collar and white workers be initiated.


    Worker Control

  47. To strengthen worker control at all levels of COSATU.


  48. To advance worker control / participation and working class leadership at all levels of society based on class struggle.


  49. Promote worker participation in all structures outside COSATU (community, ANC, SACP ) and meetings with the State and Capital.


  50. Educate workers politically about the importance of worker control.


  51. That we continue to demand and struggle for working class control within the Alliance and broad mass movement.


  52. To continue our struggle for socialism.


    Build Workers’ Unity

  53. The federation needs to have a frank discussion on how we can achieve unity with other federations without diluting our ideological content and vision, at the same time as recognising that there are significant differences in political outlook. A dynamic approach to unity will need to combine firmness on fundamental principles, combined with flexibility to allow us to overcome non-antagonistic differences.


  54. To deepen the emerging co-cooperation and call on the federations not to confine their co-operation to NEDLAC but to strive for joint activity at an national level and regional co-operation around campaigns such as wage struggles.


    Strengthening the Farm Workers

  55. COSATU leadership should assist SAAPAWU in mobilising funds to boost the financial viability of the union.


  56. SAAPAWU should encourage its leadership at all levels to fully participate in COSATU structures in order to be empowered.


    Building the Domestic Workers

  57. The CEC should request NALEDI to conduct research on the establishment of advice centres for servicing and assisting domestic workers. As part of the demarcation study, we should also consider finding a viable home for them.


    Unemployed Workers

  58. The CEC should request NALEDI to investigate possibilities of various forms of organising the unemployed.



  59. The first CEC should look into mechanisms for the effective participation by affiliates in FINCOM. Furthermore the CEC should look at how to ensure that the qualifications by the Auditors are dealt with including the possible write off of arrears.


    Constitutional Amendments

  60. National


    1. Central Committee (New clause)


      • The Central Committee (hereinafter referred to as the "CC") shall adopt general and specific policy measures between congresses by means of resolutions in furtherance of the Aims and Objects of the federation and will consider and /or decide on the following:
        1. The confirmation of the agenda;
        2. The credentials of delegates;
        3. Reports of the National Office Bearers of the Federation;
        4. Resolutions;
        5. Any such matters that may be deemed to be in the interest of the federation other than amending the constitution.


      • The CC shall be composed of the Federation’s President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Treasurer, General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary and delegates of affiliated unions as specified below:


      • Each affiliated union in good standing shall be entitled to one (1) delegate for each completed four thousand (4 000) members or part thereof, provided that all delegates from an affiliated union shall consist of a majority of members of such affiliated unions in good standing.


      • The CC shall ordinarily meet at least once a year (except in the year which a congress or special congress is held) on a date to be fixed by the CEC.


    2. Central Executive Committee


      • Delete clauses 7.1.8, 7.1.9 and 7.1.10 relating to the appointment by the CEC of the Education Secretary, Organising Secretary and Administrative Secretary respectively. Their appointment should be in terms of the normal employment procedure.


      • Amend clause 7.2.1 as follows:


          Two (2) representatives who should be national leaders from each affiliated union with a membership of less than eighty thousand (80 000), at least one (1) of whom must be a member of such affiliated union, and four (4) representatives from each affiliated union with a membership greater than eighty thousand (80 000), at least two (2) of whom must be members of such affiliated union.

    3. Executive Committee


      • Amend 8.1 as follows:


          The Executive Committee shall consist of the President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Treasurer, General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary and two delegates who should be national leaders from each affiliated union in good standing which is represented on the Central Executive Committee, provided that at least one (1) of the two (2) delegates is a member of such affiliate.

      • Amend 8.3.1 as follows:


          The Executive Committee shall meet at least once every two (2) months.

  61. Regional


    1. Regional Congress


      • Amend clause as follows:


          To elect a Regional Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Treasurer from among its members, at least once every three years.

      • Amend clause 10.1.1 as follows:


          Two (2) delegates who should be regional leaders from each affiliated union in the Region with a membership of less than eight thousand (8 000), and four (4) delegates from each affiliated union with a membership greater than eight thousand (8 000).

      • Amend clause 10.3.1 as follows:


          The last Regional Executive Committee (hereinafter referred as the "REC") meeting in each calendar year shall set dates for the normal meeting of the Regional Executive Committee for the following year, which shall be held every month.

  62. Locals


    Add the following clauses in section thirteen (13):

    1. Local meetings


      • Each local shall decide on its meeting days and times and delegations.


    2. Local Executive Committee


      • The Local Executive Committee shall be composed of affiliate local office bearers or any representative of that affiliate where that affiliate does not have a local structure. The LEC shall meet at least once a month.


    3. Local Office Bearers


      • The local shall elect four Local Office Bearers to manage the affairs of the local.


  63. Other issues


    • Amend all reference to Assistant General Secretary as Deputy General Secretary.


Political Strategy and Vision

The struggle for socialism

  1. Political transformation in our country has presented us with new challenges and new points of struggle.


  2. One of the challenges that faces COSATU presently, is to concretely translate its commitment to socialism into a practical and understandable programme.


  3. While this is clearly no easy task, our commitment to socialism remains unwavering.


  4. The main strategic opponent of the working class has always been, and still is, domestic and international monopoly capital.


  5. In South Africa, we are faced with a democratic state where economic power is still largely in the hands of a minority.


  6. The political arrangement that presently exists is a compromise born out of complex forces involved in the transition to democracy and not necessarily the ideal outcome for the working class and the disadvantaged.


  7. As a federation our ultimate objective is the transfer of political and economic power to the working class.


  8. In line with this objective, COSATU re-affirms its commitment to the struggle for a socialist society.


  9. COSATU must develop strategies that engage both the state and capital for the improvement of the material conditions of the majority, while developing a long-term vision of a socialist society.


  10. Our policies, in the short, medium to long-term, must be underpinned by our ideological vision of a socialist society and the creation of a socialist state.


  11. What this means is that COSATU has the responsibility to begin building socialism now. COSATU accept and acknowledge that no trade union movement can on its own fight and win socialism. The struggle for socialism should be led by a working class political party. The federation needs to fight for building blocks towards socialism. Such building blocks should include:


    1. Engaging in relentless criticism of capitalism


    2. Strengthening working class organisations


    3. Rolling back the domination of the market in the meeting of the basic needs i.e. housing, transport and other social wage related issues


    4. Fighting for a powerful role of the public sector and the state in the economy


    5. Experimenting with non-capitalist forms of ownership and notions of social capital (communally owned companies)


    6. Introducing new socialist forms of work organisation and management which advance worker control


    7. Developing working class hegemony on issues such as sport, culture values, the media and politics


    8. Emphasising the concept of equality and ending all forms of discrimination and oppression, particularly those affecting women


    9. Demanding that the state plays a developmental role


    10. Reducing higher echelons of bureaucracy


    11. Creating a more responsive state administration


    12. Moving beyond traditional notions of capitalist democracy and introducing participatory forms of democracy


    13. Building accountability of government institutions and of retirement fund investors


  12. For the above measures to be real building blocks towards socialism, they need to be located and form part of a broader socialist programme.


  13. Such a programme needs to outline in detail:


    1. The nature and type of socialism that we are fighting for


    2. The strategy and tactics to be used to realise our socialist objective


    3. Short and long-term demands of the working class to be used in the march toward socialism


    4. The social forces that will play a crucial role


  14. While COSATU must play a role in the formulation of such a programme, such a task is not only for the federation, but a mission for all socialist forces.


  15. As recognition of the role that must be played by socialist forces outside of the Federation, COSATU should develop links with credible socialist organisations nationally and internationally in order to challenge capital on a global front.


  16. We also need to increase the depth of our relationship with the SACP as a political party with a socialist vision.


  17. In deepening the relationship with the SACP, COSATU should provide resources that will help strengthen the SACP and transform it into a formidable force capable of meeting the challenges and leading the struggle for socialism.


  18. COSATU should further establish party units in workplaces and strengthen the SACP branches where they are weak and help and build new ones where they do not exist.


  19. With the SACP and the ANC, COSATU should develop mass media instruments (papers, programmes etc.) which give an alternative view of society, international issues and provide an outlet for socialist intellectual debate


  20. As a way of developing a socialist programme, COSATU should internally educate and mobilise workers and the working class broadly about the importance of their role and contribution in realising socialism. Within COSATU and its affiliates this could take the form of Socialist Forums at local level.


  21. Once a socialist programme has been developed, COSATU and SACP must discuss and jointly develop a broader programme for taking us to socialism. Such a programme could include joint programmes of action, continuous discussion, education fora and move towards a conference of the left with the ANC as one of the partners.


Relations and attitude to the Government

  1. Our relationship with the government should be based on COSATU advancing the interests of the working class. This means that we should support the government when it adopts progressive policies and oppose it when it advances policies that are against the interest of workers.


  2. COSATU should develop a clear vision on public sector transformation which will form a basis for engagement with the Alliance.


  3. Also important is to restructure the Tripartite Alliance in such a manner that the ANC in government is subject to the political control of the ANC party structures and is guided by the policies of the Alliance.


  4. COSATU must build the organisational authority of the ANC in all tiers of government, as a way of ensuring that Ministers and other elected representatives are not absorbed by agendas of the new elite.


  5. COSATU should work closely with all members of parliament and people in government who are supportive of the programme of the working class.


  6. NEDLAC was born out of our struggle to involve workers and society in the formulation of policies, which directly affect them, particularly on social and economic issues. Its composition and character therefore means that it contains many contradictions and is a terrain of struggle. It is an institution that we should defend, since it constitutes a deepening of democracy and recognition of the central role of organised labour in social and economic transformation.


  7. NEDLAC should not be counter-posed to parliamentary democracy but should be seen in the context of the need to deepen that democracy. Negotiations in NEDLAC are not a substitute for the responsibility of parliament to legislate. At the same time parliamentarians needs to be sensitive to agreements reached in NEDLAC. To ensure a dynamic and interactive relationship between parliament and NEDLAC, parliamentary committees should be briefed and to have open access to all processes. Further, parliamentary committees where appropriate, should engage in the discussions while they are under discussion in NEDLAC, to broaden participation in debates.


  8. As a way of ensuring that the potential of NEDLAC for organised labour is fully exploited, COSATU should regularly assess and review its performance against the criteria set out at the 1996 Policy Conference.


  9. As a matter of urgency, the Federation should convene a workshop of senior leadership to develop strategies to involve regions and locals in the NEDLAC processes.


  10. Also critical for making government accountable to the working people and the poor, is a campaign by COSATU to have the country electoral system changed. COSATU must propose an electoral system that combines a proportional party list and a constituency based system.


  11. The federation and its affiliates should co-ordinate its activities to engage with the parliamentary process at national, provincial and local level.


  12. Congress empowered the CEC to consider calling for a "workers’ parliament" aimed at educating and equipping working people to understand and influence the parliamentary processes at the national and provincial level. The first national workers parliament, to be preceded by provincial parliament, could be held in the run up to May Day celebrations in 1998.


Local Government

  1. The radical restructuring of local government administrations, a redrawing of the municipal boundaries where appropriate and the methods of funding is essential for the survival of local governments and the effective delivery of services.


  2. To give effect to this restructuring the following measures should be undertaken:


    1. Changes to the current employment ethos of these institutions in terms of personnel and content.


    2. Campaign strongly for the re-introduction of prescribed assets.


    3. Push for national tariff reform in respect of all basic services. This reform should include what constitutes lifeline levels of service and make provision for cross-subsidisation.


    4. COSATU members, and especially municipal workers, should become directly involved in building the Masakhane Campaign.


    5. Campaign to change legislation preventing municipal workers from standing as councilors in areas where they are not necessarily working.


    6. To actively encourage more workers to stand for elections as councilors


  3. Mechanisms must be explored as to how to recall councilors who are not accountable to the communities they represent.


  4. Workers elected to local government should be developed so that they have the necessary capacity to implement working class programmes. In addition the alliance should develop a programme to empower activists involved in local government.


Tripartite Alliance

  1. COSATU must take forward the recent decisions of the Alliance Summit which agreed that the there should a broad agenda for transformation which must deal amongst others with:


    • The form and content of a joint Alliance transformation programme


    • The Alliance approach to policy formulation


    • The relationship between the Alliance and government


    • Our vision for transforming the public sector


  2. This will provide the basis for engagement to continuously shift the power balance in favour of and to prepare properly to marshal the democratic forces’ victory in the 1999 elections.


  3. Despite the shifts on the part of the ANC in government and despite other obvious weaknesses of the Alliance, such as the lack of a common program, lack of accountability and co-ordination, the ANC-COSATU-SACP alliance remains the only vehicle capable of bringing about fundamental transformation for the country.


  4. More than ever before, COSATU should maintain and strengthen the Alliance with the ANC and the SACP.


  5. Together with the policy of maintaining the Alliance, the Federation needs a plan to revitalise the Alliance. Such a plan must entail:


    • Developing a clear transformation programme for the Alliance


    • Regular summits to co-ordinate and guide the activities of the Alliance


    • A strategy of how to rebuild the Alliance at all levels and to promote the culture of democratic decision making


    • Establishing an Alliance political centre to be co-ordinated by the Alliance leadership


    • To provide resources to the components of this Alliance and to ensure effective functioning of all constituent organisations of the Alliance


    • The CEC is requested to work out how this can be effected


  6. The common programme of the Alliance must be based and built on the RDP. It must centre on the delivery of basic needs of our people, particularly those in the rural areas.


  7. COSATU and its affiliates should consciously organise workers to engage in the structures of the Alliance at all levels to ensure working class bias in the programme and policies of the Alliance prevail.


  8. While COSATU should remain committed to the Alliance, such commitment must be coupled with vigorous defense of the Federation’s political independence. Partners must fearlessly but constructively criticise each other.


  9. The CEC must be empowered to review from time to time the workings of the Alliance.


  10. An election platform must be developed at Alliance level for the 1999 elections to amongst others cover the following areas:


    • Providing financial resources


    • Agreement on the candidates list process


    • The key policies for the election manifesto


    • Electioneering support for the ANC at workplace and in communities


    • Implementation and review structures in regard to policies of governance


  11. COSATU should convene a Central Committee in 1998 to finalise and endorse a proposal for the platform.


Building the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM)

  1. Presently, there is a need for the struggles of the various mass organisations to be united and co-ordinated.


  2. For this purpose COSATU should initiate a broad popular movement for transformation around common struggles on issues facing the working class. As the first step in the process, COSATU must actively engage in anti-poverty and equality campaign together with the NGO movement, communities, religious organisations etc.


  3. The MDM is a necessary attempt to regroup the forces of democratic transformation and socialism and should not be seen as a narrow electoral coalition.


  4. It should be seen as a home for popular mass formations that currently lack a common agenda and programme.


  5. The forces for the MDM from the Alliance, youth, civic, women, religious and progressive non-governmental organisations need to be rallied behind a radical democratic and socialist agenda.


  6. The federation must forcefully articulate this position to ensure that the masses do not remain passive spectators in the transformation process of the country.


Building Community Structures

  1. The federation should regard the building of strong and democratic organs of civil society as important for the strengthening of our democracy and for ensuring that communities are able to mount effective campaigns around socialist orientated development.


  2. COSATU should therefore actively participate in the rebuilding of the civic movement and engage SANCO on issues that have a direct effect on what the federation stands for - i.e. our opposition to the privatisation of municipal services. As part of this process COSATU should initiate a discussion on the nature and the role of the civic movement.


  3. As part of the process of building community structures the Federation should encourage the following:


    • Participation in CBOs


    • Engagement in the overhauling of the LDFs and participation therein


    • COSATU Locals to conduct research into community issues and to liaise with communities on these issues.


Policy on deployment

  1. This congress reaffirms the 1991 National Congress resolution on deployment.


  2. COSATU should allow the most capable cadres including its National Office Bearers to stand for positions in Alliance structures, Mass Democratic Movement formations and other strategic institutions like the public sector and parastatals.


  3. No COSATU cadre shall be allowed to occupy two full time positions in any of the organisations referred to above.


  4. COSATU shall defend its independence and that of its Alliance partners. The Alliance will continue to function based on mandates, report backs and the need to develop a consensus on issues relating to the National Democratic Revolution and transformation.


  5. There should be open debates on deployment in the constitutional structures of the federation. There should be a distinction between people being elected by structures and deployment. In this regard no person shall stand for election in the Alliance and in civil society and then claim this to be deployment by COSATU.


Crime and Violence

This Congress resolves:

  1. COSATU to mobilise all workers and communities in the fight against all crimes especially domestic violence, violence against women, children and the aged.


  2. Campaign for a speedy transformation of the police and justice system. This would include engaging all ministries (National and Provincial) of Safety and Security and the Parliamentary portfolio committees dealing with safety and security matters.


  3. While acknowledging Governments initiative in combating corruption within the justice and police systems, COSATU must campaign around the Following:


    1. Government must intensify its efforts and include organised formations of civil society especially affected sectors of labour.


    2. To expose and report those corrupt police who are in cahoots with criminals as well as others who assist in the perpetration of crime.


    3. To work with the independent complaints Directorate to ensure that policemen involved in corruption are dealt with and discharged from the service.


    4. That harsher penalties be contemplated for those who betray community trust.


  4. We welcome the Bill tightening bail conditions for certain crimes and insist on its speedy implementation.


  5. To identify specific underlying socio-economic problems in our society, and implementing the required plan of action to remedy these in line with other socio-economic initiatives. To further urge Government and Business to create job opportunities to alleviate crime linked poverty.


  6. To input in the process of formulating legislation which will assist the Government to regulate private security companies.


  7. That we commit ourselves as COSATU to participate in all attempts directed against crime. As part of this, we should:


    1. Encourage all COSATU members to participate in building grass root structures like the Community Policing Forums and support those police who are dedicated in fighting crime. COSATU should also encourage all members to enroll as police reservists.


    2. To ensure that these dedicated policemen are remunerated fairly.


    3. To discourage members of the communities from buying stolen goods. Hasher penalties should be imposed for this offence.


  8. Further measures should include:


    1. The close monitoring and deployment of both logistical and human resources to ensure service delivery particularly to crime-ridden areas, sectors and disadvantaged areas.


    2. Ensuring integration of police service with other services.


    3. The Prisoners must be rehabilitated and prisons must no longer be the universities of crime. Criminals arrested by police should kept beyond bars and must not be allowed to walk out of prisons. The Correctional Services must avoid giving impression that crime pays by taking sick or wounded criminals to the high class private clinic whilst their victims are treated in the public hospitals.


  9. This Congress further resolves that:


    1. Special attention should be placed on;


      • Exposing and reporting to the police, domestic violence within our communities.


      • Combating child abuse, rape and armed robberies.


      • Smash organised crime syndicates by active community involvement and the development of a specific action plan in this regard, especially where syndicates are active in the workplace.


      • Exposing and combating white collar crime.


      • Witness protection system must be developed as mechanism of encouraging crime reporting by communities


Declaration on GEAR

This Congress notes:

  1. That Government has adopted and implemented GEAR as its macro-economic strategy and already working class people are feeling the effects.


  2. GEAR is based on unacceptable neo-liberal policies and principles, such as:


    1. Reducing the role of the state in the economy, and of the public sector inadequate service delivery


    2. The mechanical pursuit of deficit reduction targets


  3. This framework will have the effect, and is having the effect of:


    1. increasing job losses


    2. sacrificing job creation


    3. reducing social services expenditure,


    4. encouraging ideologically driven privatisation programmes


    5. introducing labour market deregulation, which reduces and undermines labour standards


    6. unacceptable industrial and trade policy objectives, such as accelerated tariff reductions


  4. The Alliance Summit agreed that GEAR was unilaterally imposed and is not cast in stone


  5. GEAR represents a unilateral departure from the policies and principles enshrined in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP)


This Congress declares that:

  1. COSATU rejects GEAR as an unsuitable macro-economic strategy for South Africa`s socio-economic transformation, and calls on the ANC government to adopt a developmental macro-economic framework, based on the principles of the RDP.


  2. In line with the decision of the Alliance Summit, the Alliance must continue to engage in an alternative economic strategy.


  3. COSATU will take the following immediate steps to advance our interests on this issue:


    1. Embark on a campaign, incorporating like-minded institutions in civil society, to:


      1. Publicise and resist the GEAR elements of subsidy cuts, privatisation, labour market flexibility, etc


      2. Develop a macro-economic policy, based on RDP principles, which has as its key objective, socio-economic transformation;


      3. Reject high interest rates


      4. Support of our policies as outlined in the Social Equity document;


      5. Advance COSATU`s vision on the transformation of the public service


      6. Defend jobs and for job creation


      7. Call for a people`s budget,


      8. Strengthen the role of the state in economic activity;


      9. Convene a special Central Committee within the next 6 months, to concretise our anti-GEAR campaign, and develop an alternative macro-economic strategy that will effectively underpin our transformation objectives;


      10. To continue to engage with the Alliance partners, to advance the following agreements reached at the last Alliance Summit:


        • The form and content of a joint Alliance transformation programme


        • The Alliance approach to policy formulation


        • The relationship between the Alliance and governance


        • Our vision of transforming the public sector


International Policy

The context

  1. Capitalism is becoming more global in its operations. The movement of bosses, capital, technology and products across borders is increasing.


  2. Globalisation has been marked by a concerted strategy by capitalists, in particular transnational corporations, to safeguard their interests and to destroy any possibility of socialism.


  3. The central tenets of this neo-liberal strategy are:


    1. Major cuts in levels of tariff protection for local industries


    2. Financial deregulation - including lifting of exchange controls


    3. Reducing the active participation of the state in the economy - i e privatisation


    4. Flexibility in the labour market


    5. Export oriented economic strategies - making national economies dependent on the more industrialised countries.


  4. More power is increasingly shifting to international institution like the WTO, World Bank and IMF, which are controlled, by the most industrialised countries.


  5. In the name of globalisation and international competitiveness there is a new ideological attack on worker rights, trade unions and labour standards. Increasingly, investment is being shifted to countries where no unions are allowed.


    The Response of the International Trade Union Movement

  6. The neo-liberal strategy has had certain successes in rolling back gains workers have made in highly unionised societies and in preventing the growth of strong trade unionism in other societies.


  7. The labour movement has fought each of the symptoms of this new global onslaught separately, with limited success, in countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Korea, France, Ghana and the United States.


  8. COSATU has initiated international work such as our campaigns around Swaziland and Nigeria. However this work has not always been effective or properly co-ordinated. While COSATU is beginning to engage in such solidarity work, there is a need to continuously shift in order to galvanize and move away from symbolic forms of solidarity to international work in a way that allows for concrete forms of solidarity that advance the struggle for socialism by the working class.


  9. The COSATU International Relations Committee should include, International Officers and National Office Bearers of affiliates who are involved in international work. Furthermore the federation should assist in the co-ordination of sectoral activities by affiliates.


An overall approach

  1. The trade union movement is more vital and necessary now, as the voice of those displaced by economic adjustments and the brutal policies followed by the international business community.


  2. A successful response under these conditions requires a serious review of current separate, and uncoordinated struggles, and requires too that we develop new tactics, and adjust our strategies in this new period, to more effectively promote the cause of solidarity in economic and social policy, in international work, and in the daily struggles of affiliates.


  3. COSATU must counter the free market system and deepen the crisis of imperialism by developing an alternative humanistic project consistent with a socialist perspective.


  4. To pursue the above the federation needs to do the following:


    1. Promote democratic and worker controlled trade unions


    2. Promote trade union unity in all countries


    3. Actively build campaigns such as the anti-privatisation campaign


    4. Promote the rights of women


    5. Continue with other federations to support workers who are denied the right to organise by repressive regimes


  5. COSATU should campaign for coordinated international action every year by organised workers, to draw attention to the negative consequences of globalisation, and to put forward our alternatives. This should provide the basis for uniting workers globally in what are currently separately fought struggles over:


    • Job security


    • Deregulation of the labour market


    • Neo-liberal macro-economic policies


    • Privatisation of basic services


    • Improvement in basic conditions of employment


    • Reductions in social spending and social welfare


    • Reforms to multilateral institutions such as the ILO, World Bank, IMF and WTO.


  6. Such action should be to develop an international programme of action in two phases:


    1. In the first half of the year, an international week of focus on globalisation that would end with May Day celebrations focussing on a specific international theme. During that week, COSATU should produce posters, information, T-shirts in regard to the theme adopted.


    2. In the second half of the year an international day of action on a normal working day, which consist of demonstrations, pickets, stoppages and a global strike by workers. Such a day should be on a date agreed by the CEC, and taken up in all international worker federations as well as within OATUU and SATUCC, and by affiliates through their international trade secretariat. Furthermore support should be sought in all progressive worker organisations regardless of affiliation.


  7. The first CEC after the congress should consider the mechanisms of putting aside a certain percentage of the federation`s affiliation income to set up a solidarity fund to be used to build trade unionism in Southern Africa and other parts of the developing world. A programme for international solidarity should be established and its focus must be on organising the unorganised, developing effective structures as well as a campaign capacity of the trade union movement.


  8. The CEC is to receive reports regularly on the progress made in this campaign, with a target of organising a million workers through these programs in the next three years.


  9. To mobilise, educate and organise workers and people in Southern African and internationally against the current globalisation of the world economy, which is taking the form of amongst others:


    1. Undermining of the sovereignty of nation states in determining their economic and social policies, inter alia through structural adjustment programmes;


    2. Rolling back of social security for working people;


    3. Deregulation of the labour market;


    4. Rampant financial speculation;


    5. Entrenchment of poverty and inequality between and within nations.


  10. To develop an international platform of progressive forces, to advance proposals for an alternative economic order, and to develop a fighting programme to achieve our goals.


  11. To vigorously campaign for a world economy based on People`s needs.


  12. To embark on programmes within Labour ITSs, for redistribution of the international wealth.


  13. In response to the effects of capital mobility, the following is proposed:


    1. Build and strengthen the labour movement in Southern Africa


    2. Demand the representation of the federation in all multi-lateral trade negotiations.


    3. Imposition of strict regulations on labour rights abusing countries.


International Affiliation

  1. COSATU should seek affiliation to the ICFTU. COSATU needs to continuously develop a visible programme that will serve as a guide to COSATU`s participation and perspective in the ICFTU.


  2. COSATU should work closely with other progressive forces within the ICFTU with COSATU affiliates doing the same through engagement within their respective ITSs in the transformation of the ICFTU.


  3. COSATU should continue to strive to build maximum unity amongst workers - including the WFTU, WCL - as well as contacts with the non-affiliated trade union federation, in pursuit of a single progressive international federation.


  4. In line with the above, COSATU should:


    1. Consider hosting the next Indian Ocean Regional Conference with all centres making financial contributions.


    2. Establish more concrete ties with unions in the South-South Region and develop a network of links with major unions which have a militant and democratic approach to economic and political issues similar to ours.


    3. COSATU should continue to engage in meetings that follow up on the discussion on the round table meeting that was held in Egypt.



  1. The African continent is characterised by major struggles for democracy against feudal and undemocratic military regimes.


  2. The structural adjustment and other economic programmes imposed by the IMF, World Bank, military regimes and the imperialist countries remain the single greatest threat to this democratisation process as they unleash a massive attack on the living standards of the people. COSATU commits itself to continue to play an active role to assist and support the democratisation and political struggles in the region and the continent as a whole.


  3. The interests of South African workers are integrally linked to those of workers in the Southern African Region and the entire continent.


  4. The unity of workers in the region and the continent becomes more important as more companies, both South African and international, have operations in various countries in the region and on the continent.


  5. It is therefore imperative for COSATU to actively and concretely support the development of strong, independent worker controlled unions in Africa by:


    1. Working with other progressive African trade union federations in building and strengthening OATUU and SATUCC on the basis of a progressive working class programme.


    2. Organising exchange programmes for African shop stewards and Union officials.


    3. Organising jointly with OATUU and SATUCC around a common programme of action targeting particularly anti-working class international programmes, organisations and multi-national companies.


    4. COSATU affiliates should set up African Shop Stewards Councils where economic policies can be debated.


  6. In order to overcome the fragmentation of co-ordination of labour federations in Africa, COSATU should encourage co-operation between AFRO and OATUU structures.


  7. COSATU CEC should decide on a competent female comrade to take up the position of Vice President in OATUU.


  8. In conjunction with the other trade union federations in the region, organise a conference of the labour movement and governments in Southern Africa to discuss social and economic policies appropriate to our region. This will ensure that the labour movement plays an important role in shaping the discussions on the economic trade within SADC. Prior to the conference taking place, SATUCC will have to develop an approach which will guide our input at the conference. We should draw on experiences of workers from other countries where such regional structures exist, such as NAFTA.


  9. COSATU affiliates should establish firm links with their counterpart unions in the region, with the aim of analysing the problems in their sectors and developing ideas about how their industries could be developed in a mutually beneficial way across countries.


  10. COSATU should support the struggle for decent labour standards in all countries in the region. Affiliates should establish cross-regional company shop steward councils to build solidarity. COSATU should also assist unions in the region to develop their organisational, research and educational capacities.


IMF World Bank and WTO

  1. Both the IMF and WTO (GATT) have caused further impoverishment of poorer countries, thus creating a re-colonisation of these countries.


  2. As South Africa participates in the world economy and engages with both the IMF and the World Bank we need to ensure that these unelected multilateral institutions do not dictate economic policies to independent countries.


  3. The IMF has remained silent on the need to close the apartheid wage gap while it is vocal on its attack to the wage rates in South Africa.


  4. Though international institutions should serve the needs of all citizens, the structure of the IMF allows for domination by imperialist countries, which are able to hide their interests under the cloak of objective economic advice.


  5. Such advice has destroyed many economies, e g: sections of the Zimbabwean economy thus forcing Zimbabwe to appeal for special trade agreements with South Africa.


  6. COSATU should condemn the activities of the IMF and the World Bank in South Africa and call on the government to remain true to the Reconstruction and Development Programme drawn up by the Alliance, which promotes the need for income redistribution.


  7. COSATU should support the convening of an international conference, such as the one which was convened in Cuba, involving trade unions, community groups, political parties, NGOs and sympathetic government officials, to discuss how best to respond to this new imperialism and to exchange experiences and programmes. The next conference is planned for Brazil in 1999.


  8. While South Africa should observe WTO rules and provisions, COSATU should wage a campaign calling for:


    1. The review of unfair and unjustified provisions.


    2. The inclusion of the social clause in trade and investment agreements.


  9. COSATU will continue to develop links with working class organisations and progressive governments internationally to develop a programme to engage and negotiate with such institutions on the broadest possible front.



  1. South African multinationals are buying factories/mines all over the world, especially Gencor and Anglo-American, who are buying mines in Ghana Columbia, Brazil etc. They have started trampling on workers rights as they have done in South Africa.


  2. Multinational Corporations (MNCs) today control both the national and international debate on economic issues.


  3. Multinational Corporations avoid taxation in the following manner:


    1. Forcing governments to adopt investment incentives e.g. tax holidays, Export Processing Zones


    2. Transfer pricing.


  4. Multinational Corporation`s ensure that the IMF & World Bank dictate policies favorable to them. They employ lawyers and economists to lobby for them in these institutions.


  5. We need to deal with these features of international capital in various ways, including:


    1. Ensuring that the international trade union movement develops a coherent counter-strategy


    2. To mobilise internationally for imposition of taxes on speculative investment (casino economies)


    3. Negotiating codes of conduct with multinationals in their regional and international operations including:


      • Trade union rights


      • Measures to protect unions under repressive regimes


      • The right to take solidarity action within a particular MNC


    4. Developing mechanisms in COSATU to monitor their activities and also setting up co-ordinating councils where the multinationals straddle all sectors of our economy


Declaration on International Solidarity

  1. Gathered at our 6th National Congress, COSATU has taken note of the fact that the end of the twentieth century has seen an ugly resurgence of violation of human and worker rights and repression of trade unions and worker leaders as part of a conscious programme to trample the interests of poor and working people throughout the world.


  2. We are committed to take our place alongside all organisations of the working class throughout the world to see to it that the increasing integration of the world economy leads to the improvement of the conditions of working people and, ultimately, sees the eradication of poverty in the world.


    In particular we note:

  1. That the colonial and neo-colonial legacy in Africa has prevented the realisation of democratisation and human development. It has also fostered the emergence of military juntas (such as in Nigeria) and the continuation of repressive semi-feudal regimes (such as Swaziland)


  2. The continued blockade against Cuba is an act of imperialist aggression, which violates the right to self-determination of the Cuban people.


  3. The continued occupation of East Timor by Indonesia and the continuing genocide and other violations of human rights throughout Indonesia.


  4. COSATU, therefore, declares its commitment to the following solidarity activities:


    1. Swaziland & Nigeria


      • Embark on mass action with other solidarity forces to put pressure on the undemocratic regimes in Swaziland and Nigeria.


    2. CUBA.


      • Commemorate the 30th anniversary of the murder of comrade Che Guevara


      • Participate in the second globalisation conference being hosted in Brazil.


      • Support all other activities of the Cuba Solidarity Organisations in SA


    3. Indonesia & East Timor


      • Convey and express support for comrade Mandela`s intervention to secure the independence of East Timor.


      • Campaign against the continued human rights violations inflicted against unions and the freedom loving people in Indonesia.


      • Organise mass activities during the visit of the Indonesian dictator, Suharto to South Africa, in order to raise the issues of the independence of East Timor and continuing repression in Indonesia


    4. Western Australia


      • Campaign against the neo-Liberal attack against workers and trade unions in Western Australia.


      • In addition to fighting all forms of covert repression of human rights and workers and worker organisation, COSATU will oppose any systematic violation of workers interest through the casualisation and informalisation of labour market, and through the introduction of anti-worker growth models, such as, Export Processing Zones.


      • COSATU, together with the workers of the world, must strive to smash all forms of anti-worker growth and repression, wherever in the world these backward tendencies rear their ugly heads.