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Shopsteward Volume 27 No. 3

COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor

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Central Exec  |  COSATU Press Statements

Statement by the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of South African Trade Unions

Statement by the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of South African Trade Unions

24 November 2011

The Congress of South African Trade Unions held a scheduled meeting of its Central Executive Committee from 21-23 November 2011, with the national office bearers and affiliate and provincial leaders in attendance. Among the many issued discussed were the following:

Political backdrop

The CEC met against a backdrop of a world in crisis, with glaring manifestations of the inherent chronic failures in the system of capitalism internationally, which are happening in the heartland of capitalism – in the USA and all over Europe.

This reality is a warning that in South Africa we may be heading in the same direction. The question is whether when such events unfold our formations will be at the head, or will be reacting from the periphery or be dragged by the masses and follow from behind. This reality reminds all of us about our responsibility to continually confront and expose capitalism for what it is – a system that brought misery to our people!

COSATU’s political role

This global and national crisis makes it more necessary than ever to maintain and deepen the unity and strength of the workers’ movement. Without maximum unity COSATU will cease to be the hope of South Africans across class and colour divides; it cannot be the moral compass, a fearless spokesperson of the most downtrodden and a reliable friend and ally of the oppressed and exploited across the globe.

There was a thorough and frank debate on perceived differences within the federation and the ongoing challenges threatening our unity and our relationship with our alliance partners.

The meeting reaffirmed the unity of the federation, based on the following mandates from the June 2011 Central Committee:

  • We need to defend the Polokwane progressive policy framework, and the Manifesto undertakings, and build on these as a basis to make further advances.
  • In engaging with the ANC leadership on this political platform, we need to be constructive but critical, and refuse to allow political paralysis. We need to ensure that they help us to help them.
  • The new tendency of tenderpreneurs represent a serious threat to the revolution, and must be isolated and exposed.
  • We need to defend the ANC’s leadership collective elected at Polokwane, against the new tendency which is attempting to destabilise it and put it on the back foot.
  • It is premature to engage in succession debates, as this distracts us from the primary political tasks of taking forward our transformation mandate. We will encourage our members to assess the leadership of all Alliance formations, at the right time.
  • We need to continue to engage from a working class perspective, unapologetically pursue our class struggle, and analyse our political challenges based on the material realities which confront us, rather than a narrow commitment to this or that grouping or leader.

Our assessment, in relation to these six mandates, paints a worrying picture of the political state of the Federation. We have sought to confront the difficult challenges, including the perceived dangers to the federation, some of which are not necessarily backed by strong evidence but are trends that if not confronted will destroy the federation altogether. This however shouldn’t be overstated - the political centre of the Federation continues to be located in a progressive consensus in the traditions of the organisation.

However it would be a fatal error to understate the problems. They need to be confronted in the open, honest, and critical manner, which has kept the Federation strong over the years, or they will degenerate into a serious organisational crisis.

NPC presentation

Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency and Chairperson of the National Planning Commission, the Deputy Chairperson of the NPC, Cyril Ramaphosa and a number of other Commissioners, gave a presentation on the National Development Plan – Vision for 2030. They focused on the six ‘drivers of change’ – West to East tilt, interconnectivity, globalisation, climate change, technology and the resurgence of Africa. They emphasised the importance of adopting measurable targets.

The federation is studying the Plan and will produce a full, detailed response for discussion at the February 2012 CEC. Accordingly we agreed to engage the NPC in the near future and certainly before the six months period they have set. This will help address concerns some of which already expressed in public by some of our affiliated unions.

Collective bargaining and the unemployment challenge

The CEC discussed the SACTWU agreement, which provides for a different minimum wage for first-time workers and pressure by employers in other sectors for the introduction of similar provisions in bargaining agreements. We decided to postpone the finalization of this discussion. Our final response will be guided by the framework below:

  1. COSATU remains committed to closing the apartheid wage gap, a decent minimum wage for all workers, and in particular addressing the crisis of youth unemployment.
  2. COSATU is committed to finding creative solutions to these challenges, but does not believe that lowering workers wages, when most workers earn below R3000, i.e. below the household subsistence level, can be part of the solution.
  3. No country in the world has succeeded in addressing these challenges through embarking on ‘a race to the bottom’, which sees lower and lower wages as the solution to the challenge of rising unemployment and declining living standards.
  4. In Brazil there has been a virtuous cycle of growing real wages, growing employment and declining inequality, driven by the rising real demand resulting from rising living standards and an appropriate industrial and macroeconomic strategy, to ensure the sustainability of this developmental cycle.
  5. The crisis of unemployment in South Africa similarly requires sustainable solutions, not crisis management, or knee-jerk measures which deepen the problems. The CEC therefore agreed on the need for a multi-pronged strategy, a combination of macro-economic responses to promote industrial renewal and diversification, and a well resourced and focused industrial strategy. Collective bargaining agreements can help to advance this developmental agenda.
  6. Social partners at Nedlac have agreed that youth unemployment is a crisis needing urgent attention. Consensus is emerging that a coherent response is required to address this challenge, and that measures such as the proposed youth wage subsidy cannot be a silver bullet to effectively address this challenge.
  7. The CEC has therefore set up a team to address these multiple challenges and look at proposals to be placed before the February 2012 CEC and synchronised with discussions in Nedlac. The role of collective bargaining and government tax incentives will only be two of a wide range of policy interventions to be considered by the CEC in addressing these matters.

Labour law amendments

Nedlac is discussing a package of labour law amendments, in four bills - the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and the Employment Services Bill.

A special CEC on 28 October 2011 on labour broking and other issues that required mandating agreed that while the government’s legislative proposals did not constitute a ban on labour broking they were also not the weak form of regulation originally called for by business. Nevertheless the special CEC decided to maintain the call for a ban on labour brokers.

The planned mass action for 5 October 2011 had to be postponed after a meeting of the Nedlac Section 77 Standing Committee took a majority decision that the Notice submitted by COSATU was premature as matters were still being considered. There was a risk that a court could use the Nedlac Section 77 Standing Committee’s majority decision to rule in favour of the employers.

COSATU remains utterly opposed to the practice of labour brokering, a form of human trafficking which has condemned thousands of workers to insecure jobs with poverty pay, no benefits and no job security, and will continue with the mass action at the end of February. We shall not rest until labour brokering has been banned. The CEC reiterated the policy guide from the 5th Central Committee that if this demand is not realised it must be backed by a series of general strikes. We have been asked to develop rolling mass action in all provinces at the beginning of 2012 to back this demand.

Violence during strikes

During negotiations on the labour market review, government has raised from time to time the issue of violence during strikes. We asked them on numerous occasions to put their proposals in writing. COSATU agrees that violence and intimidation has no place in strikes and society in general. The CEC instructed all its affiliates and provincial structures to develop education programmes and campaigns to educate members on their responsibility to keep all strikes and demonstrations violence free.

Our view is that violence is a social problem, extending beyond the labour market, which will not be solved by a quick knee-jerk reaction.

At a meeting in November government eventually tabled proposals which they believe will regulate conduct during strikes. Regrettably these proposals instead of addressing a common concern i.e. violence launches the most serious attacks on our right to strike since the inception of the LRA in 1995 or even before.

They are proposing:

  1. That the period for conciliation for an issue which might give rise to a strike or lock-out should be extended to 60 days. After 30 days picketing rules can be negotiated and a ballot may be held. Government’s thinking is based on the hope that a strike can be conciliated away in the extended time. Our view is that more anger will build up as workers see their right to strike being subject to a 60-day conciliation period, particularly since most employers will not use this period to settle matters and the demands of the workers would not be resolved.
  2. A return to compulsory ballots prior to calling a strike. The ballot would have to be verified by the CCMA, Bargaining Council or an accredited agency.
  3. Changes to the right to picket. In an attempt to get buy-in from labour they are proposing that picketing rules would be binding on third parties who control access to the employer’s premises in exchange for a multitude of changes that will work to the detriment of those on strike.
  4. Picketing to be limited to the members of the union calling the strike and no strike unless picketing rules have been agreed or determined. These rules must cover all conduct during strikes and not just the actual picket.
  5. Unions will be told what steps they must take in the case of illegal conduct during a strike. Breaches of the picketing rules can be taken to the Labour Court and may have the right to picket withdrawn and may then be held liable for any damage caused by the breach. There will be special rules for sector strikes and a joint trade union/employer committee established. The role of this committee is not spelt out.

All these proposals are a direct attack on trade unions. The link between the withdrawal of the right to picket and union liability is particularly worrying. They echo the DA’s private member’s Bill and the recent call from SALGA. It in effect makes the union responsible for any unlawful acts by anyone on a picket line.

The CEC agreed to reject these proposals, continue to demand an end to scab labour and an extension of our right to picket, and to prepare for battle over this threat to basic union rights.

Labour law amendments on essential services

The determination and regulation of essential services remains a sore point for affected workers in the public service, local government and relevant sectors such as energy. Currently in many sectors designations of what constitutes an essential service are excessively broad, and include services which if interrupted would not result in injury, loss of life or other serious imminent emergency. The resultant restriction this places on the right to strike favours employers, who are generally unwilling to negotiate and agree on minimum service agreements.

Government tabled its written proposals only a week ago, which should be viewed within the context of other problematic proposals aimed at repressing the right to strike. These include:

  1. Deeming a dismissal to be automatically unfair, should an essential service worker who is subject to minimum service agreement go on strike.
  2. Extremely problematic proposals on the composition of the Essentials Services Commission (ESC) that load it in favour of employers. The current ESC is composed of a chair, and a representative each from organised labour and business.
  3. Government now proposes that it be composed of representatives of labour, business and government, together with a so-called independent chair. Any decision of the ESC would be dealt with by all four individuals regardless of whether it affects the public or private sector. This means having two employer representatives participating at all times. The chair would have a casting vote if decision by majority is not possible.
  4. New functions of the ESC would include compelling parties (through CCMA or bargaining council mediation) to conclude a minimum service agreement, as well as imposing a minimum service agreement if parties are cannot agree by a certain time or if it wishes to impose an alternate one. It is this latter power to impose an agreement that we have concerns with, especially in light of the proposals to load the ESC composition in favour of employers.
  5. Expansion of the definition of essential services to include "public officials exercising authority in the name of the state". The wording of the definition has yet to be provided. However, examples by government motivating this proposal include immigration officials at the airport, customs officials and SARS employees. Clearly this far beyond services that would result in injury or loss to life should that service be interrupted.
  6. Where the ESC imposes a minimum service agreement, Government has indicated that it wants it to be valid indefinitely. Whereas unions and workers believe that there should be regular reviews of essential service designations and minimum service agreements - currently we are forced to continue under problematic designations, which over time has been revealed to have been incorrectly designated.
  7. New proposals to allow the ESC to undertake an expedited process to designate an essential service - it can make a preliminary determination in response to which it can ask for comments from interested persons before making a final determination. Whereas currently it must FIRST conduct an investigation and solicit comments before making a determination.

Lawyers at the CCMA

The CEC agreed to oppose an application by the Law Society to challenge the constitutionality of the exclusion of lawyers from appearing in the CCMA in misconduct and incapacity disputes.

The implications of this would be huge. The LRA and its amendments were designed to give easy access to shop stewards to represent members in the CCMA. Allowing the employers to bring lawyers will simply complicate matters and eventually will be a huge financial burden on workers and their unions, who will not be able to afford the legal fees. The end result will be that the justice is denied to thousands of workers who currently can walk with to the CCMA to demand recourse.

Protection of State Information Bill

The CEC noted with concern that the Protection of State Information Bill has been passed by the National Assembly. The federation wrote to the ANC three weeks ago expressing its concerns with the bill but has received no reply yet. It was agreed to call for urgent bilateral meetings with the ANC and the SACP, which is supporting the bill.

COSATU is unequivocally opposed to acts of espionage or activities that are hostile to the state. However, we are concerned that relevant provisions in the Bill are capable of such broad interpretation that it would have the effect of imposing criminal responsibility on whistle-blowers who disclose information in the public interest.

Through our engagement with the leadership of the ANC and the Ad Hoc Committee, the Bill finally adopted by the Ad Hoc Committee has undergone numerous drafting changes, which some Committee members argue have addressed civil society concerns, but we are firmly of the view that some of our original fundamental concerns remain largely unaddressed:

g. The scope of the revised Bill remains excessively wide, with the potential for just about any organ of state or National Key Point (including private institutions) to be included on the basis of a Ministerial discretion.

Serious definitional and interpretation problems remain Bill, some of which include:

  • The varying degrees of ‘harm’ arising from possession or disclosure of state information which determines the stringency of the security classification and associated restrictions and criminal penalties. The potential for subjective interpretation in the absence of proper guidelines creates ample space for abuse of the process of classification.
  • The definition of ‘national security’ is still overly broad and moreover includes problematic factors, such as the “exposure of economic, scientific or technological secrets” and acts that would have diplomatic implications for “carrying out …responsibilities to any foreign countries and international obligations”. Public interest must necessarily overlap with a correctly construed definition of “national interest, and in many instances should even override the protections for diplomatic relations or against economic harm especially where it is necessary to expose serious irregularities or corruption.
  • It contains numerous provisions that undermine rights of access to information. Quite problematically we note that its provisions state that it will trump the provisions of any other Act of Parliament that contradicts it. This would suppress rights of access to information whether these arise from the Promotion of Access to Information Act or even the Labour Relations Act.
  • It criminalises possession of classified information by an unauthorised person and states that any person who “conspires with .aids, abets, induces or …counsels another person to commit an offence is guilty of an offence”.

This would have the consequence of criminalising the obligations that trade union officials and advice offices have to assist whistle blowers with advice or blow the whistle on their behalf where a person wishes to remain anonymous.

The CEC remains convinced that there is a need to introduce a public interest defence that would maintain a balance between the restrictions legitimately placed on state information against disclosures and media publication of such information in the public interest.

Some members of the Ad Hoc Committee had promised that the space has not been closed and that the National Council of Provinces will open the space and make further amendments to the Bill.

The meeting agreed that if we cannot persuade the government to withdraw the bill we will launch an application to the Constitutional Court as we believe that these proposals are unconstitutional.

Corruption Watch

Corruption is one of the biggest threats to our revolution and efforts to build a better life for all. COSATU will continue to use every ounce of its energy to help root out the scourge of corruption in our country. We call on all citizens to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with one another and with all other organisations battling against corruption, which can only be defeated through collective action of all citizens.

We are happy that the Alliance is beginning to close perceived gaps on these matter and is working hard to develop a programme that will mobilise our people against corruption in line with the adopted its Programme, “Alliance Programme of Action for fundamental transformation of society”.

COSATU will be holding a follow-up march in Polokwane on 13 December 2011 which will be led by the COSATU General Secretary as part of our efforts to demand an end to the scourge of corruption.

The CEC was addressed by Dave Lewis, who has been appointed as Director of Corruption Watch, the corruption-fighting body set up by COSATU. We hope to launch the organisation on 26 January 2012.

It will investigate allegations of corruption and, when there is sufficient evidence refer cases to the relevant law-enforcement agencies. It will have to be strategic and selective and focus on the types of corruption most often encountered by workers and the poor, e.g. bribes solicited by traffic police and home affairs officers.

An interactive website is being set up for people to report anonymously but which will show the kind of corruption which is being reported and identify hot-spots. It will cover both the public and private sectors, particularly corrupt relationships between the two.

Gauteng e-tolls

Since the last CEC there have been two Section 77 meetings at Nedlac. At the first meeting we tabled our demands, including rescinding the implementation of the Gauteng tolls (GFIP) until the matter had been engaged at Nedlac.

Government agreed to initiate discussions on public transport at Nedlac and also decided that the implementation of further phases of GFIP should be reassessed. There are also reports that a task force of Department of Transport and Treasury people has been established to consider alternative funding models for the R20bn debt incurred in the construction of the first phase of GFIP.

COSATU has sought a meeting with the Minister of Transport to explain why the GFIP is still being implemented but he has not responded.

The tolls are to go ahead anyway, despite the public hearings which have turned out to have been a waste of time, which has made COSATU members very angry.

The CEC therefore agreed to proceed with mass action, together with civil society organisations, at the end of February. Accordingly we shall issue a final notice in Nedlac that will give us a right to a protected strike at the end of February 2012.

In the meantime we are urging people not to buy e-tags and, if the tolls have not been scrapped, will be encouraging motorists to drive through the tolls without paying. In this act of civil disobedience we shall not present ourselves to the courts and will not pay fines imposed for merely using public roads that should remain a public good.

Meanwhile we shall investigate legal action on the basis that continuing to impose tolls in Gauteng while halting their extension to other provinces constitutes discrimination.

NHI Green Paper

The CEC endorsed COSATU’s welcome of the government’s Green Paper on National Health Insurance, which unambiguously reaffirms every citizen’s right to access to health care.

We have had a series of meeting with the Minister of Health where he briefed us about the challenges on the implementation of the NHI. The private sector has access to funding and resources far in excess of those of communities and civil society, which gives them a strong voice. The NHI will not see the light of day without consistent campaigning for its implementation by unions putting pressure and raising issues at a public level.

The CEC agreed to the following:

  1. The National Health Insurance Fund must be a single payer and must be publicly administered. There must be no outsourcing of administration.
  2. There must be no public private partnerships in the delivery of health care in the public sector.
  3. Tax subsidies that are meant to encourage employees to enrol in medical schemes must be abolished.
  4. The NHI must be funded via general revenue, payroll linked progressive contribution tax and contribution by employers. No additional levies must be made through VAT to fund the NHI.
  5. There should be no further investigation of a multi payer system as it is not going to lead to universal access to health insurance.
  6. The creation of the NHI and the broader transformation of the health system in terms of the 10-point plan of government must be prioritised as one of the 5 priorities of the manifesto.
  7. Community Health Workers must be formally integrated into posts within the public health system. Their role, training and regulation should be formalised and standardised.
  8. Outsourcing and PPPs within the public health care system must be reversed.
  9. The benefit package must be clearly outlined in line with the original draft from the ANC NEC health and education subcommittee as adopted at the 2010 NGC.
  10. All medical schemes must be dissolved into the NHI Fund.
  11. The government must expedite the process of establishing a state-owned pharmaceutical company.
  12. Government must implement the recently-launched Human Resources Strategy which must not be affected by the attempts by Treasury to reduce the public service wage bill.
  13. The use of labour brokers, particularly as it relates to moonlighting of staff, should be banned.

NGP follow-up

As part of the agreement COSATU entered into with the Economic Development Department and government generally, following the publication of the New Growth Path, we have signed the following accords:

  1. Basic Education Accord
  2. National Skills Accord
  3. Local Procurement Accord
  4. Green Economy Accord

The Basic Education Accord was signed on 13th July 2011 by the four Nedlac constituencies. It is premised on the realisation by every stakeholder that our education system is not producing expected results from Grade 1 to 12, which will in the long run have a negative impact on the economic future of the country.

The stakeholders have committed themselves, among others, to:

  1. Work together to change the mindset among teachers, learners and parents to rebuild dysfunctional parts of the basic education system and ensure quality education delivery, particularly in poorly-performing schools;
  2. Endorse a campaign to adopt poorly-performing schools and implement whole school development programme interventions, with individual businesses working collectively and trade unions/community-based organisations assisting such schools to develop proper governance, high standards of teaching, basic school-level discipline and an adequate supply of essentials (including school textbooks and workbooks).

The CEC resolved that every selected ‘poorly-performing school’ must be visited on the opening day of the 2012 academic year. COSATU must be seen to be leading this campaign.

The National Skills Accord is part of the effort to realise the target of creating five million new jobs by 2020 by expanding and improving training.

The Local Procurement Accord aims to accelerate the creation of 5 million new jobs by 2020, as well as the attainment of the goals of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP 2), by a promoting local procurement.

The Green Economy Accord was signed on 17 November, timed to coincide with the 17th Conference of Parties on Climate Change taking place in Durban.

Social dialogue – what is it role and how does the leadership support?

We are encouraged by the current debates that have just started under the chairpersonship of the Minister of Economic Development because they have assumed a critical turn towards a possible broader agreement that if carefully managed can be used to restructure our economy in line with our critique of the government’s New Growth Path.

Below is the initial summary of discussion held on 18 November 2011 which begins to shape a more serious comprehensive agreement addressing the structural fault lines of apartheid economy:

  1. There are 4 challenges that must be addressed: poverty, inequality, unemployment and global economic crisis
  2. We need a bold package: address the size of the challenge
  3. It should be a broad package: cannot only be about one area, e.g. wages and productivity
  4. There must be a fair sharing of contributions by all constituents
  5. The urgency of the crisis requires actions by all
  6. There is a common recognition that manufacturing is critical and need to be a central part of what we do
  7. The crisis is also an opportunity for the country, provided we develop social cohesion and shift to productive activities instead of the consumption-based path of the past decade
  8. There is consensus on the need for beneficiation of the country’s raw materials
  9. In developing a package, we need to avoid three traps:
    • A declaration with empty words
    • A package that attempts to shift the burden to one constituency
    • An unbalanced package that does not include sufficient key elements
  10. The discussions need to also cover which administrative rules and parts of the tender system is a constraint to development
  11. Corruption in the private and public sectors must be addressed
  12. The social economy is an area that can make a real contribution
  13. Attitude changes across whole society are necessary, covering work ethic, corruption, corporate greed, economic disruption and disfunctionality in implementation of agreed actions
  14. Define areas we can deal with immediately
  15. Use the following pillars to address the issues:
    • Infrastructure: contribution by all three constituencies
    • Social partner commitments: look at the actions to be taken by business and labour on incomes policies, executive pay, jobs and collective bargaining
    • Public policy commitments: actions by government, including on manufacturing and short-term efforts on jobs as well as alignment of policies

Timeframes

  1. Urgency of response to global crisis: need to move before the next wave of job losses as a result of global crisis: next four weeks for a response
  2. Need to influence public policy for 2012: government programme is finalised by mid January and announced in SONA in February 2012
  3. Influence corporate investment plans for 2012, which are finalised within the next few weeks
  4. Influence the 2012 collective bargaining season

Process

  1. Chairperson’s summary to be developed, based on the presentation and discussions
  2. One-a-side to meet shortly
  3. Full team to meet in 2011
  4. Package to be broadly set out by mid-January for mandating by constituencies and discussion at Lekgotla
  5. Meeting with President by mid January (latest for meeting is first week of February 2012)

COP17

The CEC noted that COP17 is likely to be a `damage control` exercise, with low ambition but with a certain level of efficiency, focused on very technical aspects of the negotiation and with little space to advance political aspects such as emission reductions, sources of funding or even “Just Transition” dimensions.

This has clear implications for trade unions` expectations for Durban. While the `outside` agenda will certainly be a very lively one (with the extended World of Work Pavilion, the civil society rally and other social activities), our capacity to influence the official process will be considerably reduced, and this is mainly because most of the issues we want to tackle are not included on the agenda for Durban.

COSATU will be demanding:

  1. A legally binding agreement for emissions reductions from developed countries
  2. Trade unions to be included in the negotiations during COP 17
  3. The inclusion of a “just transition” framework, which will protect workers and communities in the transition towards a sustainable society
  4. Environmentally sustainable, socially just and equitable development
  5. Safeguard biodiversity and peoples’ rights
  6. Low carbon economy and by emerging economies to speed up their efforts in transforming their economies into more sustainable ones.
  7. Polluting developed countries and industries must be held accountable
  8. Oppose the World Bank controlling climate finance.
  9. Build an inclusive green economy in just transition away from fossil fuels
  10. Media and government to educate the public on the impact of climate change

ITUC - Africa

The 2nd ITUC Africa Congress, originally scheduled for 24-26th October 2011 in Abuja, Nigeria, is now to be hosted by COSATU on 25-27th November 2011 at the Birchwood hotel, Boksburg.

This follows a decision by the Executive Bureau of ITUC Africa which received a report on the situation in Nigeria following a spate of bombings, including of a UN building resulting in several deaths. After due dispatching a team to assess possible venues, a decision was made in favour of Johannesburg.

The Congress is indeed historic for the African trade union movement and presents us with the opportunity to reposition the movement on a different plain in the changing political and economic landscape. The documents presented and the quality of discussions in the process building towards the Congress, show that there is real political will to make this Congress a historic and defining moment in the history of the African trade union movement.

It is an honour and privilege that what promises to be the turning point in the history of the African trade union should be held in our own country. Who else on the continent would have been better placed to host that moment than the giant federation built over years of difficult and protracted struggles to crown the moment of our continental movement’s coming of age?

This is also about COSATU playing its leadership role and assuming its rightful place in taking the debate and posture of our continental issues to a higher level and such an opportunity should be able to allow us to actively participate in shaping the quality and content of the emerging continental agenda beyond the trade union movement.

Humanitarian Support for Somalia

The last CEC agreed to launch a humanitarian programme to help the starving people of Somalia. We have been able to secure the presence of the Gift of the Givers and they are partnering with us, not only on this project but also even on future projects. The launch is the first phase of our humanitarian Somali programme: the task team has developed a theme as “Africa Unite for the People of Somali”.

We expect the COSATU national centre, through its staff and provincial offices, to contribute minimum R100 each to a trust account.

Affiliates and provinces will be also be asked to make contributions through their national centres as well as provinces to contribute. We are urging affiliates to ask every worker to donate R5 each towards this humanitarian relief work and establish deposit workplace centres food parcel contribution and clothing.

Russell Tribunal on Palestine

The CEC welcomed the findings of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which found that Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people living in Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.

The Tribunal found that “since 1948 the Israeli authorities have pursued concerted policies of colonisation and appropriation of Palestinian land. The end result is wholesale territorial fragmentation and a series of separate reserves and enclaves, with two groups largely segregated. The Tribunal heard evidence to the effect that such a policy is formally described as hafrada, Hebrew for ‘separation’.”

Witnesses at the Tribunal provided horrific accounts of collective torture, persecution and punishment through the demolition of Palestinian homes, and villages and acts of humiliation experienced daily by Palestinians at checkpoints by the apartheid regime. Palestinians are denied a range of socio-economic rights by Israel’s discriminatory policies in the spheres of education, health and housing.

The Tribunal was a painful reminder of the collective suffering that black South Africans experienced under apartheid. The federation is now more than ever convinced that Israel is an apartheid state whose prosperity is founded on the oppression of the Palestinian people and their right to self determination.

We are inspired to intensify the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and solidarity work in support of the Palestinian people and their quest for self determination, freedom and equality.

COSATU President will lead a delegation of affiliated unions Presidents and religious bodies to visit to Palestine on the 3 to 9 December 2011.

16 Days of Activism

The CEC committed its total support for the 16 days of activism against women and children abuse and congratulated the affiliates and provinces that have already begun to organise activities.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Braamfontein
2017

P.O.Box 1019
Johannesburg
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080 / 6940
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456
E-Mail: patrick@cosatu.org.za

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