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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU CALLS ON ITS MEMBERS TO INTENSIFY THE STRUGGLE FOR A LIVING WAGE TO CLOSE THE APARTHEID WAGE GAP

5 August 1998

COSATU is in full support of all the struggles that have been waged by its members in recent weeks for a living wage and to close the apartheid wage gap.

We reject with contempt the strategy advanced by most bosses to link wage increments to inflation and productivity. Whilst linking wages to inflation appear to make economic sense on paper, it is completely inappropriate in the South African context.

Our position is largely guided by the need to confront the apartheid wage gap which was inherited from the Wage Act, that sought to condemn black workers and blue collar workers to poverty wages.

To COSATU the recent struggles of workers seek to address the following problems in the economy:

  • The need to close the apartheid wage gap. In some sectors of the economy the ratio between the highest and lowest paid workers is 100:1. We want this gap to be reduced to at least 8:1
  • The overwhelming number of workers' wages fall well below the Minimum Living Level. This trend has not decreased but increased in the recent years. A growing number of workers are in the category of "working poor". This means that whilst in employment, employed workers continue to be poor and little better than the permanently unemployed.
  • The above point undermines the strategy of attacking poverty and redistribution of wealth. It undermines the RDP's commitment to building local demand for our products and creation of jobs.

COSATU in particular supports the industrial action that members of the Chemical Workers Industrial Union (CWIU) have embarked upon. We are concerned, that the intransigence of the bosses will soon undermine the economy as the whole as petrol pumps may dry-up in the near future. We are now calling on all our members to embark on solidarity actions in order to break the impasse that has developed in negotiations. We further call on workers to refuse to handle any goods to and from the Petroleum, Glass, Plastics, Rubber, Pharmaceuticals, Industrial Chemicals and fast moving consumer goods.

We also extend a call to the automobile bosses to meet the demands of NUMSA members so that the industrial action scheduled for Friday, 7th August 1998 can be averted.

Issued by COSATU Deputy Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi

Nowetu Mpati COSATU Head of Communications

Tel: + 27 + 11 + 339-4911 Fax: + 27 + 11 + 339-2281 E-mail: nowetu@cosatu.org.za

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