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Central Exec | COSATU Press Statements
Decisions of the COSATU Special Central Executive Committee (CEC)
Held from 15th-16th October 2012, COSATU House, Nelson Mandela Floor, Elijah Barayi Boardroom
1. Taking forward the COSATU 11th National Congress declaration on Lonmin/Marikana tragedy
The Special CEC was called to evaluate efforts made the Federation and the NUM to take forward the Declaration on the Lonmin/Marikana tragedy adopted by the COSATU 11th National Congress. The CEC took note that since we adopted this declaration, the unprotected strikes that started at Impala Platinum, following their foolish step to offer 18% to one category of workers to the exclusion of all other workers, have spread to the rest of the platinum mines and to gold, coal and iron ore mines. Over 100 000 workers are involved. We have also seen a few instances of unprotected strikes moving out of the mining industry.
Actions by some employers have not helped address the underlying reasons behind this wave of militant actions by mine workers. Instead of addressing the issue of poverty wages and pathetic living conditions, the employers have chosen to dismiss 15 596 workers, with Anglo Platinum dismissing a staggering 12 000 workers alone!
The gold and platinum prices have both gone up during this period, platinum from R11, 300 an ounce at the beginning of August to R14 700 by the mid of October (an increase of 30%) and the gold price from R13, 000 an ounce to R15, 700 in the same period (an increase of 21%). The price increases are due to the depletion of surpluses. This is one of the many bitter ironies of the mining industry.
The way forward
The CEC debated these developments and decided on concrete steps we should take to respond to the challenge at hand, and accordingly took the following resolutions:
- To demand the immediate reinstatement of all workers who have been dismissed and call on other mining companies that have threatened to dismiss workers to withdraw these forthwith.
- To embark on solidarity actions across the economy in support of this demand for reinstatement. Every union will immediately convene workplace general meetings to discuss the nature and timing of the solidarity actions we should embark up and will then feed back to COSATU in the next two weeks.
- We are particularly extremely concerned that employers have been using the unprotected strikes to embark on downsizing programmes with the aim of reversing all the gains workers have scored over many years by dismissing and selectively reemploying workers on lower conditions. In the process they have been coldheartedly getting rid of thousands of workers without paying for the retrenchment packages they would be forced to pay if they were cutting employment numbers, thus achieving the same objective free of charge!
- COSATU is in full support of the NUMs decision to redirect the anger and frustrations of workers to the employers. We are calling for maximum unity of mine workers so that they can use their unity to improve their wages and conditions of employment. The CEC fully supports the Platinum mines process that aims to create centralised bargaining structures. We hope that these processes will bear fruit before the end of October. Equally we support the process between the NUM and other unions and the Chamber of Mines to find a lasting solution in other mining sectors. We are aware that no settlement has been reached yet through this process and call on all parties to ensure that they leave no stone unturned in reaching agreement.
- We are pleased that the NUM and COSATU have got both the Chamber of Mines and government to agree on the need for a second commission of inquiry to look at the conditions of work and living conditions of mineworkers historically. The ANC and the SACP have also endorsed the call. The CEC endorsed draft terms of reference of this commission and work will now proceed to consult all other role players to finalise these.
- We are convinced that the NUM has played a critical role in improving the working conditions of mineworkers across the mining industry and in the construction and energy sector where it is organising. Without the NUM, mineworkers would undoubtedly be competing with the worst paid sections of the manufacturing and retail sectors. Workers should not allow the weakening of weapons they have used to register the progress this far. We do however acknowledge that more still has to be done to improve wages and conditions. Hence our campaign for the establishment of a special commission and the general campaign to improve wages, as well as for the total banning of labour brokers in the mining industry and the economy as a whole.
- We shall lead a campaign to speed up the transformation of the conditions in the communities surrounding the mines, to provide decent houses, schools, clinics, running water, electricity and tarred roads. We are extremely angry that having won the right to live out of dehumanising single-sex hostels, workersliving conditions continue to decline as they find themselves living in informal settlements without any basic services. This is the responsibility of government.
- The CEC noted with shock and sadness the continuing violence in the platinum mines. We reaffirm our view that there is an attempt to wipe out the NUM in the platinum sector through this systematic campaign. Scores of NUM shop stewards have been forced out of the mines as they continue to be targeted in a clearly well-orchestrated campaign of violence and intimidation to weaken NUM, a campaign which, in our view, aims not only to weaken COSATU but the Alliance and the revolution itself.
- We have made a call to the Minister of Safety and Security to ensure that the police improve their intelligence capacity so that they can get to the bottom of the wave of violence, intimidation and killings of NUM shop stewards and activists.
- As part of building and defending the NUM and COSATU in the Rustenburg area, and of reclaiming the space that has been lost through the totally unacceptable creation of no-go areas, we have resolved with immediate effect to create an operation centre in Rustenburg, led by senior leaders of the Federation and its affiliates. These comrades will co-ordinate our on-the-ground political and organisational response.
- We are holding a major North West Provincial Shop Stewards Council on 18th October as part of our effort to mobilise for a march and rally in Rustenburg on 27th October 2012. We call on all workers in the North West, and also Limpopo and Gauteng, to attend the rally and reclaim the Rustenburg area from the forces of counter-revolution.
- Affiliates have agreed to release adequate resources to support this programme including circulating a letter we have drafted to all workers to give them a briefing on events that have unfolded in the recent months, and transporting their members to the rally on the 27th. We shall also be convening a meeting of the national organisers of affiliated unions to ensure that the programme we have developed is taken forward. This programme is not limited to the rally in Rustenburg but includes rallies we shall hold throughout the country.
- There is no doubt that the Lonmin/Marikana and subsequent events have exposed a number of weaknesses in our organisation, in particular at the workplace, which have contributed to workers choosing to represent themselves. We will continue to critically analyse these weaknesses and the material conditions which have lead to this phenomenon, and will have a focused discussion on this in our November 2012 normal CEC. This discussion will include an evaluation of our structures and capacity of the Federation. It cannot be business as usual we need to go back to the basics, as our 11th National Congress has demanded.
- COSATU will prepare to make its own submission to the Farlam Judicial Commission of Inquiry. The submission will seek to highlight the issues above and those contained in the COSATU 11th National Congress declaration on Lonmin/Marikana tragedy.
2. The campaign to attack poverty wages and inequalities
The 11th National Congress adopted a Programme of Action, which among others included two central pillars:
- The First Pillar: Abolish the Apartheid Wage Structure: Forward to a Living Wage!
- The Second Pillar: Radical Socio-Economic Transformation in line with the demands of the Freedom Charter: The People Shall Share in the Countrys Wealth!
Congress resolved to lodge a Section 77 notice around a set of demands and also pledged to work towards the consolidation of retirement funds and the creation of a central retirement fund investment vehicle in the private sector, along the lines of the PIC, to direct workers’ savings into productive investment and development. Congress also resolved to expedite the establishment of a Workers’ Bank.
The way forward
The Special CEC had the task of advancing the decisions made on challenging the apartheid wage structure and promoting radical economic transformation. On tackling the apartheid wage structure the CEC agreed:
- To hold the agreed National Bargaining, Organising and Campaigns Conference early in 2013, instead of this year, in order to give Affiliates adequate time to prepare for such a critical conference. The NOBs will endeavour to get the former President of Brazil, comrade Lula da Silva, to address the conference.
- Between now and the conference, affiliates will review all their current collective bargaining arrangements and agreements. To help to prepare for this discussion, the Federation will circulate the following documents:
- COSATU policy positions adopted at the Living Wage Conference in June 2011.
- Background information on the issues under discussion, including information on the Brazilian experience of a national minimum wage.
- COSATU positions adopted in its Retirement Funds Conference in August 2012 which now will be submitted to the Nedlac Retirement Funds Conference to be held on 5-7 November 2012. As decided by Congress COSATU will immediately take up the campaign to ensure that the Treasury does not succeed in its drive to unilaterally restructure retirement funds policy.
On radical economic transformation
- The CEC discussed the implementation of the Congress decision to serve a Section 77 notice at Nedlac on a set of demands for radical economic transformation, in line with the Freedom Charter and the RDP. The core framework for the demands will be as outlined by Congress, and is set out below. They relate to the five priorities of government, which should form the content of the second phase of a transition for radical economic transformation, or what we have dubbed the Lula moment. COSATU will elaborate on the demands Congress formulated. A meeting of all affiliates policy personnel will be convened to take on board affiliates sectoral issues and these will be integrated into the following core demands for our overarching campaign, as well as for the Section 77 notice:
- Decisive state intervention in strategic sectors of the economy, including through strategic nationalisation and state ownership, and the use of a variety of macro-economic and other levers at the states disposal, which can be deployed to regulate and channel investment, production, consumption and trade to deliberately drive industrialisation, sustainable development, decent employment creation, regional development, and to break historical patterns of colonial exploitation and dependence.
- The urgent need to radically overhaul our macro-economic policy in line with the radical economic shift, which we all agree needs to happen. To this end we will engage with our alliance partners in the run-up to the ANC Mangaung conference on the macro-economic policy review.
- The radical economic shift requires that the Treasury, which institutionally constitutes the biggest obstacle to the government’s economic programme, be urgently realigned. A new mandate needs to be given to the Reserve Bank (SARB), which must be nationalised. The National Planning Commission (NPC) must be given a renewed mandate, to realign the National Development Plan with the proposed radical economic shift. Aspects of the New Growth Path also need to be realigned with the proposed new macro-economic framework. All state owned enterprises and state development finance institutions need to be given a new mandate.
- There must be legislative changes to curtail monopoly capital, and to strengthen and broaden the power of competition authorities.
- Urgent steps must be taken to reverse the current investment strike and export of South African capital. There is currently R1, 2 trillion lying idle in social surplus, which employers are refusing to invest. These measures need to include capital controls and measures aimed at prescribed investment, and penalising speculation.
- The urgent introduction of comprehensive social security.
- COSATU will ensure that affiliates and all structures of the federation implement the four Accords on Basic Education, Skills and Training, Local Procurement and Green Economy. Implementation of these will go a long way in addressing some of the structural fault-lines we inherited from the apartheid era.
3. Creating our own Lula movement: driving the second phase of our transition
The 11th Congress noted lessons derived from the Brazil and from progressive developments in Latin America, which have included decisive political leadership in charting a new path. These developments in Brazil are part of the resurgence of left alternatives throughout the Latin American Continent, characterized by:
- a rapidly expanding role of the state in the economy,
- pursuit of expansionary macro-economic policies,
- active promotion of social ownership, particularly through a huge increase in cooperatives,
- progressive interventions to transform the labour market by formalising employment, combating atypical work, raising wage levels and promoting collective bargaining,
- In the case of the more left governments, such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, governments have actively promoted popular participation, and the growing assertiveness of the working class and peasantry. This has led to new forms of popular democracy.
Congress agreed that we should force a national agreement which sets South Africa on a more radical and transformative path. This agreement would have the following elements:
- Measures to ensure representivity and integrity of the new leadership collective, at national provincial and local levels, and to combat social distance.
- Legislation to govern conflicts of interest in the state and the movement; policies to prevent those convicted of certain types of offense from holding certain leadership positions; and a package of interventions to combat corruption.
- Interventions to advance a radical economic shift, including specific commitments to align macro-economic policies and all institutions of state to the agenda of promoting decent work and interventions to dramatically scale up the states role in strategic sectors of the economy.
- A commitment that appointments to strategic positions will be reviewed to effect these changes in strategic ministries, including Treasury, the SARB and key SOEs and DFIs, and that their mandates be changed accordingly. A more focused mandate should also be given to the NPC to realign the planning process to reflect this radical shift.
- Implementing proposals to promote a more effective, coordinated developmental state, including the Alliance agreed proposal to implement a Council of State.
- A coherent labour market, wages and incomes policy, including a legislated national minimum wage, linked to a minimum living level, and comprehensive collective bargaining and social protection measures.
- Special intervention programmes to address crisis situations in public health and education, and other identified areas of service delivery.
- Agreement on a protocol for the Alliance and Governance to ensure effective implementation of ANC and Alliance policies, and co-ordination with the work of government.
- Related to the above, an Alliance mechanism to receive reports, and monitor, and ensure implementation of, identified strategic or priority Alliance decisions which seek to contribute to this radical shift, e.g. resolutions from the NGC on state ownership in key sectors of economy, transformation of the mining sector and various Polokwane and Manifesto undertakings on the economy, corruption and state transformation etc.
The Special CEC was convened to take practical steps to ensure effective implementation of this Congress resolution. The economic elements of this path are elaborated in the summary of the CEC decisions regarding poverty and wages. The CEC took the following decisions, to:
- Convene a meeting with the ANC leadership to lobby for the acceptance of this framework as part of the ANCs own efforts to take forward its National Policy Conference resolution on the 2nd transition for a radical transformation.
- To produce a booklet based on this framework as well as other policy proposals referred to the section dealing with the campaign to attack poverty and inequalities. This booklet should be circulated widely to help influence the ANC branches and other structures as they prepare for the 53rd National Conference. Our aim is to raise policy questions that will inform the agreed second transition so that we avoid a dangerous preoccupation with the leadership contests out of context in terms of policy.
- To encourage the building of capacity to implement policy directives from Polokwane, the Manifestos, State of the Nation Addresses, ANC Conferences, including the NGC and recent NPC which contain many positive and progressive announcements on what will be done, though the sorry track record of non-implementation has led to the disillusionment referred to in this report.
4. Positioning COSATU and preparing for the ANC 53rd National Conference
The 11th Congress could not exhaust the discussions on preparing for the ANC’s 53rd National Congress but the Secretariat report, which was adopted by Congress, spoke at length about what should be our focus in terms of political work to be undertaken.
The Congress was clear in its message that we require decisive, coherent and focused political leadership that is not afraid to challenge the neo-liberal orthodoxies.
- On the question of ANC leadership the Special CEC re-endorsed the recommendations of the Congress Secretariat report on how we should work to instigate for our Lula Moment and on how we should invest our energies and resources to influence branches towards this policy direction. This is summarised below:
- Organizationally, to take radical steps to reassert the values of sacrifice, selflessness, service to the people, democratic participation, harnessing of peoples power etc, including acting decisively to combat conflicts of interest in the movement. The ANC Organizational Renewal paper makes a call that the "Mangaung Centenary Conference should strive to be a watershed by addressing some of the persistent challenges that have plagued our movement since 1994". This will also contribute to narrowing social distance between leaders and the masses.
- At the level of the state, to take urgent measures to arrest the downward slide, and implement strategies to systematically build an effective and capable developmental state, which leads social and economic transformation.
- In terms of the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, to develop and implement a coherent set of policy interventions, which, in reality and not just at the level of rhetoric, constitute a radical shift, putting the creation of decent work and redistribution at the centre of policy. Economically, this means a total break with orthodox neoliberal policies, which have failed our country.
- To ensure that there is a focused leadership collective with the necessary political will, including challenging entrenched interests in the movement, state and capital.
- To force a national agreement on the nine elements spelt out under the Lula Moment above and which we re-state here. These elements make it clear that we are not providing any leadership with a blank cheque:
2.1 Measures to ensure representivity and integrity of the new leadership collective, at national provincial and local levels, and to combat social distance. Proposals are contained in this report in the section dealing with leadership.
2.2 Legislation to govern conflicts of interest in the state and the movement; policy to prevent those convicted of certain types of offenses from holding certain leadership positions; as well as a package of interventions to combat corruption. Proposals are contained in this report in the section dealing with corruption as well as the section on leadership.
2.3 A package of interventions to advance a radical economic shift, including specific commitments to align macro-economic policies, and all institutions of state, to the agenda of promoting decent work, agreed interventions to dramatically scale up the state`s role in strategic sectors of the economy as proposed at the 2010 NGC
2.4 A commitment that all appointments to strategic positions will be reviewed in line with the need to effect these changes in strategic Ministries, including Treasury, the SARB and key SOEs and DFIs, and that their mandates be changed accordingly. A renewed and more focused mandate should also be given to the NPC to realign the planning process to reflect this radical shift.
2.5 Implementing proposals to promote a more effective, co-ordinated developmental state, including the Alliance agreed proposal to implement a Council of State, to ensure a more streamlined and effective Cabinet structure.
2.6 A coherent labour market, wages and incomes policy, including a legislated national minimum wage, linked to a minimum living level, and comprehensive collective bargaining; and social protection measures, including a grant for the unemployed. These policies should be explicitly aimed at redistributing income, radically raising incomes of the working poor, and reducing inequality.
2.7 Special intervention programmes to address crisis situations, in public health and education, and other identified areas of service delivery.
2.8 Agreement on a protocol on the Alliance and Governance to ensure effective implementation of ANC and Alliance policies, and co-ordination with the work of government. Further to create a regular co-ordinating mechanism between the President and COSATU, to ensure a structured forum for ongoing input into issues of governance.
2.9 Related to the above, an Alliance mechanism to receive reports, monitor and ensure implementation of identified strategic or priority Alliance decisions which seek to contribute to this radical shift e.g. the proposals from the NGC on transformation of the mining sector, and state ownership in key sectors of economy, various Polokwane and Manifesto undertakings on the economy, corruption and state transformation etc.
- We recognise that once the ANC Conference is over, there is the danger that the urgency for such an accord would be lost. Therefore, if the Alliance agreement, as set out above, were to have the necessary impact, its key elements would preferably need to be agreed before December, for endorsement at the Mangaung Conference. This should be a clearly spelled out agreement, not something with vague statements of intent. It should set out a clear sequence of practical commitments to advance each of the identified areas within reasonable time frames. To counter growing public scepticism that radical-sounding statements are merely hollow rhetoric, it would be important to embark on a set of concrete confidence-building steps to re-establish the belief amongst people and broader movement, that a real change is being advanced. Such concrete actions could be identified for each of the elements of the platform, in a way which demonstrates that we are indeed embarking on a radical shift, rather than a business as usual posture.
- One area which needs special emphasis is the urgency of building capacity to implement policy directives. Polokwane, the Manifestos, State of the Nation Addresses, ANC Conferences (including the NGC and recent NPC) contain many positive and progressive announcements on what will be done, yet the sorry track record of non-implementation, has led to the disillusionment referred to in this report. One of the main reasons for this state of affairs is the organisational weakness and mediocrity we have referred to, which is a by-product of slate politics and divisions. We need to take responsibility for our failure to implement, and take corrective measures. While we don`t agree that the liberal anti-majoritarian organisations are the main problem, there are a number of right wing organisations which are attempting to orchestrate a sense of crisis, and the impossibility of moving forward, using a range of tactics, including through the courts. However it would be a mistake to paint all critics, or those using the courts, with the same brush.
- Based on our Congress discussions, we need to address the risk of us repeating history, by basing our actions purely on trust. We have to mobilise the working class, and broader society, around the urgency for the comprehensive set of interventions we are looking for. We must avoid the danger that we reach an agreement, but post-December, are unable to hold leaders to account in terms of meeting its conditions. We analysed in our political report to Congress how, in recent years, leaders have been pulled in many different directions by competing interests, and factions, and as a result have been unable to act decisively. How do we avoid this situation recurring? What will be different this time? We need to ensure that we mobilise pressure from below. The current balance of forces in the movement suggests that a mobilised working class has the best opportunity in a long time to set clear conditions under which the new leadership will be given a mandate. We have the possibility of creating our own Lula Moment. We dare not fail!
- In regard to the question of ANC leadership the Special CEC agreed as set out below in points 7-11. The CEC recalled and reaffirmed the COSATU 4th Central Committee held in 2007 which adopted a framework of the criteria which will guide COSATU support of any ANC or Alliance leadership. These criteria were:
- A commitment to a radical NDR and thorough going transformation of society
- A proven commitment to the Alliance and asserting the hegemonic position of the working class as a primary motive force
- Commitment to the unity of the ANC, the Alliance and the democratic movement
- Commitment to make this decade truly a decade of workers and the poor and galvanise the progressive forces of the liberation movement and the working with progressive elements of civil society
- Have an anti imperialist and internationalist character
- Have a struggle record and are politically experienced.
In addition to these criteria in our 5th Central Committee we added two more issues we shall use as criteria - good governance and a fight against corruption.
- Our intervention does not seek to endorse any slate politics or divide the ANC. On the contrary we seek to achieve a more united ANC where a bitter leadership contest must be avoided so that we create more space for policy debate to shape the content of the second phase of the transition for a radical transformation of our economy.
- COSATU is very clear that we seek to ensure that the ANC does not get taken over by the new class of tenderpreneurs.
- We shall advance a position of both continuity and change in the Polokwane collective. We will endorse those we have identified as the core of the Polokwane collective the current President, Deputy President and the Secretary General. In our assessment the other comrades have not assisted us in taking forward the Polokwane resolutions in particular the National Treasurer and the Deputy Secretary General. We will engage with the current leadership and the rest of the ANC to ensure that this nucleus is retained and that it should not contest each other.
- In identifying this collective we are not in any way suggesting that it is perfect with no weaknesses of its own, collectively or individually. We however believe that this nucleus has the best possibility under the circumstances to take us forward in the manner as categorically stated by our Congress we need political leadership that is decisive, coherent and focused, and that is not afraid to challenge the neo-liberal orthodoxies."
- The Political Commission of the CEC will meet urgently to further discuss the composition of the ANC NEC as a whole, including identifying comrades within our ranks who are active and fully paid up members of the ANC for nomination into the NEC.
Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
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