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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor

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Central Exec  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU Central Executive Committee meeting

27-29 February 2012

1 March 2012

The Congress of South African Trade Unions held a scheduled meeting of its Central Executive Committee at the federation`s new headquarter offices in Braamfontein, from 27-29 February 2012. It was attended by the National Office Bearers and representatives of the 20 affiliated unions and nine provincial structures.

New COSATU House

Immediately after the closure of the CEC, on Wednesday 29 February 2012, Comrade President Jacob Zuma formally opened the new COSATU House. The move into this magnificent new headquarters marks an historic milestone in the federation`s history. It is a building worthy of COSATU`s position in society as the voice of the workers, the poor and the majority of South Africans.

The building acknowledges our glorious past; the floors and rooms are named after great leaders of our national liberation and workers` movement. It also provides us with ultra-modern facilities with which we will build an even more glorious future.

Mass action on 7 March

All affiliates and provinces reported overwhelming support for the 7 March general strike against labour brokers and mass action against the casualisation of labour, attempts to restrict the right to strike and the imposition of e-tolling. It`s all-systems go for the biggest mass protest in years! (See the details below.)

Our members are determined to put an end to labour broking, a practice which is nothing less than a form of human trafficking, reducing workers to commodities, hired out to companies like sacks of potatoes, usually with no benefits, poverty wages and no job security.
These workers can easily be intimidated into not joining a union and exercising their constitutional right to organise, bargain and strike. That is why the CEC insisted that every effort must be made to mobilise workers employed by labour brokers to join the action on 7 March.

Workers are equally determined to stop the commodification of public services through the imposition of tolling on Gauteng highways. These roads are national assets, for the use of the people of South Africa, not a commodity which can be used to make profits at our great expense. We utterly condemn the attempts by a government spokesperson to try to intimidate motorists into buying e-tags, and Sanral`s threat to gain access to bank accounts and credit ratings to force people to pay.

The federation will continue to campaign for an efficient, safe and affordable system of public transport.

COSATU, as always, would prefer not to have to ask its members to sacrifice a day`s pay, and our door is open to further negotations with the relevant ministers to try to reach agreement on these issues, even at this late stage. Banning labour brokers and scrapping the e-tolls however remain our basic demands.

We call on our members to intensify the mobilisation of the entire working class to be participate in the protest actions. We call on every South African to join these protest actions be they black or white - rich or poor.

Eskom and the energy supply challenge

The meeting was addressed by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, and the Chief Executive of Eskom, Brian Dames, on the State of the Power System.

They warned that the power system is facing critical challenges over the next few years to balance supply and demand. In the short term the next two years are critical, as Eskom uses the summer season to maintain power stations.

In response to the minister`s call for a partnership approach and the need for the support of all our citizens and customers, the CEC reaffirmed its commitment to a strategy for energy efficiency campaign which covered efficient use of energy from all sources, in residential, industries, buildings, transportation and offices.

This is in line with the 49M Campaign, to convince 49 million South Africans to embrace energy saving as a national culture and achieve a 10% reduction in energy usage.

Further the CEC reaffirmed its commitment to the Green Economy Accord which amongst others commit unions to help establish workplace committees to ensure efficient usage and stop waste of energy. We call on workers and indeed every Sourth African to play their role in ensuring that the country achieve a 10% reduction in the energy usage.

COSATU remains however opposed to privatisation of basic services like electricity, and thus to the introduction of independent power producers. We are extremely concerned that the country will once again see another whopping 25% increase rise in the electricity price on 1 April 2012. We are extremely worried that metropolitan councils add between 14% and 110% above the applicable Eskom rates.

Infrustructure Development Plans

The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel addressed the CEC on the government`s ambitious infrastructure development plans which prioritise transport, water, telecommunications and power. Such projects, he said, are absolutely critical for economic development and job creation.

The plan is to target areas of the country which have been identified as having the greatest needs and/or shortages, and thus reverse the flow of population from the rural to urban areas.

The minister stressed the priority of getting value for money in the roll-out of these projects, which must be under strict political oversight to prevent corruption and mismanagement.

COSATU reiterated its excitement that the government is taking forward this critical area of work. We call on the government to build the necessary capacity to implement this programme effectively and ensure that every single cent is used for the pupose of building the infrastructure. The CEC called on the implementation of the other job drivers with the same vigour and same matching resources. In particular we believe that an aggressive rural development and agriculture strategy combined can complement in a serious way the infrastructure development.

Walmart/MassmartThe meeting urged the Competition Appeal Court which is to announce its decision on 9 March on a challenge by the government ministers and labour leaders against Walmart Stores Inc.`s purchase of Massmart Holdings Ltd., to reject the takeover, or at the very least to impose much tighter conditions to protect jobs, in both Massmart and other retail companies and local procurement.

Youth unemploymentThe CEC reaffirmed that we are as concerned as everyone else to tackle the massive problem of youth unemployment, and utterly reject the false argument of the DA and other that unions represent a `privileged` layer of employed workers and want to protect their jobs at the expense of the unemployed youth.

COSATU, however wants to find genuine solutions, and not bogus schemes like the Youth Employment Subsidy, which will create no new net jobs, but simply hand over tax-payers` money to employers who can employ young workers while retrenching an equal number of older workers and receive a big subsidy for doing do.

Following Nedlac discussions on the subsidy, government indicated that it wanted to table a comprehensive strategy to address youth unemployment and tabled a draft strategy at a Nedlac workshop on 23 January 2012.

Labour, while pleased that government was now acknowledging the need for a comprehensive approach to youth unemployment, raised a number of initial critical comments relating both to the analytical framework of the government document, and concerns about key missing areas, such as the role of a coherent industrial strategy, and social protection platform, in addressing these challenges.

The problematic manner in which government prepared for, and handled these discussions, constitute a major missed opportunity, which threatens to discredit and neutralise these potential gains. If government is indeed going to get buy-in and meaningful participation on a comprehensive youth employment strategy, it needs to radically shift the approach and strategy towards engagement.

Labour law amendments

In December 2010 The Ministry of Labour released four labour bills, namely LRA, BCEA, EE and ES for public comment and discussion. Negotiations on the Bills commenced at the start of 2011 at NEDLAC with six-a-side task teams for each social partner together constituting a Labour Market Policy Review Steering Committee. Amendments contained in the four bills were collapsed into six themes:

  • Atypical Employment Relationship
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Compliance and Enforcement
  • Access to Employment
  • Employment Equity

There are now three major areas of disagreement:

1. Labour brokers, on which we are to strike on 7 March 2012 (see above)
2. Government proposals on `strike violence`, about which on which the November CEC said that "regrettably these proposals instead of addressing a common concern, i.e. violence, it launched the most serious attacks on workers` right to strike since the inception of the LRA in 1995 or even before."

We have acknowledged that violence and intimidation has no place in strikes and society in general and instructed all affiliates and provincial structures to develop education programmes and campaigns to educate members on their responsibility to keep all strikes and demonstrations violence free.

But the CEC insisted that the blame for violence during strikes cannot simply be apportioned to the workers on strike because violence is a social problem, extending beyond the labour market, which will not be solved by a quick knee-jerk reaction.

The Minister of Labour has listened to our arguments and has promised to come back to us.

3. Essential service workers. The minister wants to extend the definition of workers who are performing `essential services`, and therefore cannot legally strike, to virtually all state employees, e.g. customs officers. The unions are insisting that the definition must remain confined to those whose absence from work could be a threat to people`s lives.

Again the Minister of Labour has listened to our arguments and has promised to come back to us.

Corruption Watch

The meeting noted the massive public interest in the launch of Corruption Watch on 26 January 2012, for which the federation was applauded in both the State of the Nation and Budget speeches.

Corruption remains one of the biggest threats to our revolution and efforts to build a better life for all and COSATU will continue to use every ounce of its energy to help root out the scourge of corruption in our country.

Corruption Watch is investigating allegations of corruption and, when there is sufficient evidence, will refer cases to the relevant law-enforcement agencies. It is being strategic and selective, focussing 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 - http://www.corruptionwatch.org.za - is up and running for people to report anonymously and which will show the kind of corruption which is being reported and identify hot-spots. The public can report any act of corruption by:

Tel: 011 447 1472
Short-code SMS, which costs R1 per message, on 45142.
Postal address: P O Box 113, Parklands 2121.
Email: info@corruptionwatch.org.za

Protection of State Information Bill

COSATU NOBs met a delegation of ANC members of Parliament, led by Chief Whip, Mathole Motshekga, on 15 December 2011, to discuss the Protection of State Information Bill. The NOBs presented a document, which, while confirming its support for legislation to protect national security, and welcoming improvements to the original bill, set out its concerns with aspects of the current version.
Our fundamental substantive concerns remain. These include the excessive restrictions that would be placed on the right to access to information and the implications for penalising or restraining whistle blowing against corruption and irregularities.

The meeting agreed that these concerns must still be discussed at both the NCOP and Alliance levels, and to establish teams from the two structures to continue detailed discussions and seek common ground. The CEC agreed that these agreements must be urgently followed up.

In the meantime, COSATU has worked with the `right to know` campaign, in opposition to the provisions of the Bill and, together with them, met the National Editors forum in December to look at how we can coordinate our joint concerns.

The Political resolution

The CEC held a full and thorough discussion of the current political situation, the state of the Alliance and its three constituent structures. Some of the many issues under discussion will be debated further at future meetings, but there was full agreement that 2012 will be a historic year every respect, the most important for COSATU and its allies since 1994.

It marks the centenary of the ANC, our trusted and reliable ally and the oldest liberation movement in Africa. It is the 18th year of our democracy and later this year we will be celebrating 27 years of COSATU`s existence.

All three Alliance partners will be holding their national congresses and policy-making structures, which gives us an unprecedented opportunity to reassess the progress we have made in advancing our national democratic revolution (NDR), look at the state of our organisations and plan new strategies for the coming years.

The CEC reaffirmed its mandate from past national congresses and the 5th Central Committee of June 2011 is based on the need to:

1. Defend the Polokwane conference`s progressive policy framework and the 2009 manifesto undertakings, and build on these as a basis to make further advances;
2. Be constructive but critical when engaging with the ANC leadership on this political platform and refuse to allow political paralysis, and to ensure that they help us to help them;
3. Expose and isolate the new tendency of tenderpreneurs, which represents a serious threat to the revolution;
4. 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;
5. Refuse to engage in succession debates, which distract us from the primary political tasks of taking forward our transformation mandate. We shall encourage our members to assess the leadership of the alliance formations at the right time;
6. Continue, from a working-class perspective, to unapologetically pursue our class struggle and analyse our political challenges based on the material realities, rather than a narrow commitment to this or that grouping or leader.

The meeting reaffirmed the decisions taken at the August and November CECs on the critical need to strengthen the unity of the federation and the Alliance. We agreed that COSATU`s actions, politically and organisationally, must at all times be informed by the material conditions of workers, and rejected unacceptable emerging signs of divisions inside the federation.

The CEC noted the improvement in the unity and cohesion within COSATU and the Alliance and vowed to continue to be vigilant in preventing and slipping back into an environment fraught by innuendoes, gossip, and back-stabbing, and that all components of the alliance must step up the battle against factionalism, disunity and corruption, which, if not stopped, will destroy the democratic traditions of our movement and lead to paralysis and disunity.

The CEC was encouraged to note that the ANC itself recognises these dangers, which pose a significant threat to its existence.

Our starting point must be to recognise that the potential degeneration of our movement cannot be divorced from its contamination with a deadly virus from the world of capitalism, where the culture of individual self-enrichment and `me-first` is endemic. This virus is spreading fast from the private sector into the public service, as businesses are set up to corruptly obtain tenders from the state, some of them run by public representatives themselves or members of their families.

Our overriding policy must be to re-establish within the ANC and its allies the traditional values of the revolutionary movement: service to the people with no expectation of material reward, and strive to instil those same values in government and the broader society.

We need to establish a climate in which those caught with their hands in the till will voluntarily resign, shamed by the weight of public disapproval, rather than defiantly remaining in office while the evidence against them mounts up, and mobilising their troops to march to the courts in their support.

We reiterate our call that those who want to be peoples representatives, including unionists, must choose from being such or business people - they must not be allowed to choose both. We have also called on those who have families in business to avoid a conflict of interest by not allowing their families to do business with the institutions they lead or they can influence such as government and unions.

If we fail in this historic task, then we risk getting the very national democratic revolution getting out of rails and the value of everything will be measured in how much more money is puts into the pockets of the rich and powerful.

We also need to learn from the history and the political revolutionary life span of other liberation movements throughout the continent and beyond. How did they survive or fail the litmus test of being the revolutionary torchbearers of their own societies?

COSATU and the forthcoming 11th National Congress

The CEC had a frank and open debate about the weaknesses of COSATU and its affiliated unions, notwithstanding their overwhelming strengths. This will be discussed further at future meetings.

Central to this self-criticism is the centrality of our 2015 Plan - a strategy towards our 30th anniversary. In our hard-hitting analysis we concluded that we are not systematically taking forward our recruitment drive.

We criticised each other for not prioritising the work of the federation and ensuring that members are serviced and that we mobilise effectively against the labour brokers. Failure to take forward our campaigns has meant that we not driving our own basic education campaign to adopt dysfunctional schools, mass education campaign to increase class conscious of our members, etc.

There was however full agreement that without the active and conscious involvement of our members, our resolutions and declarations are nothing but hot air balloons, which will eventually burst.

The 11th National Congress will be discussing these issues and the CEC agreed that it must provide leadership, report honestly to the membership, and give them a way forward so that we can get back on course to achieve the goals we set in the 2015 Plan.

We agreed on the programme towards the 11th National Congress which is attached.

ANC Conferences

The CEC was briefed by ANC Secretary-General, Comrade Gwede Mantashe, on plans for the forthcoming ANC conferences in 2012 - four Provincial Conferences before 31 May, the Policy Conference on 26-29 June and the National Conference on 16-20 December. Policy committees are already at work drawing up proposals on education, health, economic transformation, media/ICT, international relations, gender, social transformation, peace & stability, legislature & governance, strategy & tactics and organisational renewal.

COSATU will engage with all these documents. Special workshops, with the possibility of a special CEC, will be held to ensure thorough preparations for these workshops.

The SACP

The CEC reiterated COSATU`s view that the SACP is the working class vanguard, comprised of the most advanced cadres of the working class and the leading detachment of the class struggle.

Our relationship with the SACP is something we value and we want to be sure of its health and value to the class struggle.

Owing to the nature of this special relationship, however, it is inevitable there will be times when our assessments or conclusions are controversial to some. Our special relationship with the SACP does not make us "political sweethearts" or their labour desk, but a vibrant, militant and mass based revolutionary organisation that unflinchingly represents the interests of workers everywhere and at all times.

We have no doubt that our allies and comrades in the SACP will never value an ally who always uncritically nods its head at everything that our ally decides.

We however appreciate that we have had honest and frank discussions with the SACP on a number of issues, including the urgency of the revival of the Socialist Commission, to be led by the General Secretaries of both formations.

The CEC agreed on the following programme with the SACP moving forward:

  • Immediate convening of the Socialist Commission to clarify how the road to socialism is being constructed and what are the concrete building blocks
  • Redefining a clear Strategy to rebuild the capacity of the SACP to equal the task of leading the working class at this critical stage of the revolution, whilst simultaneously building COSATU at all levels too. This should include ensuring availability of senior Party cadres for party and COSATU work.
  • COSATU must finalise the discussion on resourcing the struggle for socialism led by the SACP.
  • Joint political and ideological education schools. In this regard we will propose that a political school be convened to review the international balance of forces with a view to draw lessons for action at the local front.
  • Joint Campaigns on key areas, particularly on labour brokers, road tolling, rolling back privatisation, public service delivery, international solidarity, public education, health, land, public transport, fighting inequalities, unemployment and poverty, etc.
  • Continuously ensuring synergy between the SACP`s MTV and COSATU`s 2015 Plan
  • Convene the Conference of the left as previously agreed in the previous congresses of both the SACP and COSATU and intensify our work with progressive civil society

Annexure 1: Details of marches on 7th March 2012 national strike

 

PROVINCE

MARCH

VENUE

CONTACT PERSON

Main speaker

Western Cape

Cape Town

Gather at Kaizergragt and march to

Parliament

Tony Ehrenreich

082 773 3194

Freda Oosthuysen

(COSATU Treasurer)

 

George

Gather at Thembalethu 4-Way and march to Department of Labour

Mike Louw

082 339 5442

Andre Kriel

(SACTWU General Secretary)

 

Worcester

Gather at Esselen Park and march to Department of Labour

 

Nadeema Syms

(SATAWU National Treasurer)

 

Vredenburg

Gather at Kobus Lock Transport and march to Department of Labour

 

Karl Cloete

(NUMSA Deputy GS)

Eastern Cape

East London

Gather at North End Stadium and march to DOL

Mandla Rayi

082 779 2466

Irvin Jim

(NUMSA General Secretary)

Port Elizabeth

Gather at Nangoza Jebe Hall and march to Vuyisile Mini Square

 

Zingiswa Losi

(COSATU 2nd Deputy Pres.)

Queenstown

Gather at Mzingisi Skweyiya Hall and march to DOL and Provincial Government.

   

Senzeni Zokwana

(NUM President)

Mthatha

Gather at Freedom Square and march to DOL

   

Nomvula Hadi

(SAMWU President)

 

Lusikisiki

Gather at Elizabeth Hospital and march to DOL

 

Thozama Mantashe

(NEHAWU 2nd Deputy President)

 

Kokstad

To be confirmed

 

Thobile Ntola

(SADTU President)

Mpumalanga

Emalahleni (Witbank)

Gather at Lynville Stadium and march to DOL

Fidel Malombo

082 719 5699

Thamsanqa Piet Matosa

(NUM Deputy President )  

Mbombela (Nelspriut)

Gather at Show Grounds and march to Government Complex

   

Fikile Majola

(NEHAWU General Secretary)

Limpopo

Capricorn (Polokwane)

Gather SABC Park march to DOL, Shoprite and Banks

Lybro Mavhandu

083 525 1638

Bheki Ntshalintshali

(COSATU Deputy General Secretary)

Mopani (Phalaborwa)

Gather at Taxi Rank and march to Shoprite, PnP, Fosko mines and Banks

Macdonald Sibuyi 072 122 3241 

Ephraim Mpahlela

(SATAWU President)

Vhembe (Thohoyandou)

Gather at Thulamela municipality and march to Vhembe District, Shoprite, Spar and Banks.

Maboho ML

082 437 7020

Thembeka  Gwagwa

(DENOSA General Secretary)

Sekhukhune (Burgersford)

Gather Tubatse Municipality and march to Shoprite, Spar, Banks and Burgersford Mall.

David Mabilo

076 031 9344

 

Katishi Masemula

(FAWU General Secretary)

Waterburg (Lephalale)

Gather at Police Training Center and march to Shoprite, Eskom and offices of Exxaro Mines.

Monti  Matome

073 337 1737

 

Pophi Ramathuba

(SAMA General Secretary)

North West

Klerksdorp,

Dr Kenneth Kaunda

Gather at Klerksdorp Medical Center and march to DOL

Solly Phetoe

082 304 4055

Mzwandile Makwayiba

(NEHAWU President)

Mafikeng,

Ngaka Modiri Molema

Gather at Montshiao Stadium and march to DOL offices

Kopano Konopi

082 339 5836

Mthandeki Nhlapo

(SAMWU General Secretary)

Bloemhof,

Dr. Ruth Mompati

Gather at Huhudi Stadium and march to Naledi municipality

   

Zenzo Mahlangu

(SATAWU General Secretary)

Rustenburg,

Bojanala

Gather at Bojanala taxi rank and march to municipality

   

Angie Phethle

(SACCAWU 2nd Deputy Pres)

Northern Cape

Kimberley

Gather at Galeshiwe Open Arena and march to DOL and Premiers Office

Anele Gxoyiya

082 401 6598

Tyotyo James

(COSATU 1st Deputy President)

KwaZulu Natal

Durban

Gather at Inkosi King Dinuzulu (Botha’s) Square and march to Durban City Hall

Zet Luzipho

072 884 3456

Zwelinzima Vavi

(COSATU General Secretary)

Richards Bay

Gather ZCBF and march to Department of Labour.

Mandla Mgomezulu

071 068 2003

Cedric Gina

 (NUMSA President)

Newcastle

Gather at Corner Allen Street and Hildrop Streets and march the Trean Park

Bheki Kubeka

072 280 0588

 

Themba Khumalo

(SACTWU President)

Gauteng

Johannesburg CBD

Gather at Library Gardens and march to Premiers Office, Chamber of Mines, SEISSA and Department of Transport and Roads

Dumisane Dakile

082 727 1422

Sidumo Dlamini

(COSATU President)

Free State

Bloemfontein

Gather at Setshabelo and march to BUSA Lebohang Building.

Sam Mashinini

079 835 4020

Frans Baleni

(NUM General Secretary)

Senekal,

Gather at Stadium and march to Municipality and SPAR.

 

Dorcas Sekabate

Vice Pres.Gender )  

Qwaqwa,

Gather at Freedom Square and march to Municipality and Shoprite.

   

Sam Molope

(SAMWU President)

 

Sasolburg,

Gather at Zamdela Stadium and march to District Municipality and Pick n Pay.

   
 

Welkom,

Gather and march to Municipality and Post Office.

   

Annexure 2: COSATU programme towards the 11th National Congress 2012

 

Event

Purpose

Timelines

1)     National Gender Conference

Evaluate our gender work against existing policy and make policy recommendations to affiliates and COSATU congress

27 – 29 March

2)     National Education and Training Conference

Evaluate our education and training work against existing policy and make policy recommendations to affiliates and COSATU congress

18 – 20 April

3)     International policy Conference

Evaluate our international work against existing policy and make policy recommendations to affiliates and COSATU congress

16 – 18 May

4)     Provincial Congresses

Evaluate work at the provincial and national level against existing policy and take resolutions and election new leadership

June and July

5)     Publication of the CASE survey on COSATU members

 

July

6)     Leadership nomination process

 

17 July-17 August

7)     Circulation of the first draft secretariat report

 

17 July

8)     Deadline for the affiliates to submit resolutions

 

17 July

9. Consolidation of resolutions

 

17 August

10. Circulation of the final Secretariat report

 

17 August

10.  National Congress

 

17-20 September

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