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Shopsteward Volume 27 No. 3

COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor COSATU Media Monitor

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Conferences  |  Declarations

Crush the Free Market Foundationís attack on worker rights!

Special Declaration adopted by the 2013 COSATU Collective Bargaining, Organising and Campaigns Conference

We, the more than 500 delegates to this historic 2013 COSATU Collective Bargaining, Organising and Campaigns Conference, representing our Federationís 2.2 million members in its 19 affiliated trade unions, unanimously declare:

We have taken note of the Free Market Foundationsí recent application lodged in the North Gauteng High Court, which claims that the Minister of Labourís enshrined power, under the Labour Relations Act, to extend bargaining council collective agreements to non-party employers, is unconstitutional.

This would mean that we could no longer practise solidarity with weakly organised workers, even when we represent the majority in the sectors. This in turn would leave workers at the mercy of their unscrupulous employers who will now willy-nilly offer them peanuts without any consequences. This would deepen poverty amongst the employed and further worsen income inequalities whilst bosses will even make more obscene profits.

We regard this as further evidence of a coherent, deliberately orchestrated and socio-economically and politically right-wing funded campaign to weaken and ultimately dismantle our democratically legislated labour relations dispensation, especially its collective bargaining machinery.

The Free Market Foundationís Court application supplements other such reactionary attacks, such as the recent legal attacks on the extension of legitimately negotiated collective bargaining agreements in the metal and clothing industries, funded by a family trust of the Capitec Bank Chairperson. The recent unilateral cancellation of a collective bargaining agreement in the education sector bears similar indications of fundamental disrespect for collective bargaining.

We are fully aware that all these cases are not isolated instances, but just the beginning of a broader strategy, nationally across all sectors of our economy, to weaken and ultimately completely dislodge the hard-won gains of working people and the progressive organisations to which they belong.

It supplements similar initiatives waged by international capital, all geared towards destroying the labour movement, to ultimately create conditions for even more extreme conditions of exploitation of the working class. Capital locally and internationally is determined to make workers pay for the current deep economic crisis caused by their own greed.

We reject this brutal attack on our fundamental worker rights with the disgust that it deserves. Worker rights are human rights. There can never, ever, be a return to the gross human rights abuses of our countryís apartheid past.

If not resolved, we pledge that this brutal attack on our rights will unleash the worst forms of popular resistance against capital that this country has ever seen.

We accordingly resolve as follows:

We shall fight these anti-worker, anti-human rights attacks until the bitter end, legally organisationally and specifically on the streets and in our workplaces.

We call on all the Free Market Foundationís funders publicly, and in writing, to disassociate themselves from this reactionary attack on workersí gains - and on our collective bargaining rights, within two weeks from the date of adoption of this Special Declaration, failing which we shall launch a campaign against them to ultimately compel them to do so.

Similarly, we call on Capitec Bank to publicly and in writing disassociate themselves from this reactionary attack on workersí - and on our collective bargaining - rights, within two weeks from the date of adoption of this Special Declaration, failing which we shall launch a campaign against them to ultimately compel them to do so. This may include a call on those amongst our 2.2 million members and workers in general who hold Capitec Bank accounts, to cancel them.

To immediately file a legal opposition to the Free Market Foundationís High Court application.

We call on all employers to publicly and in writing to disassociate themselves from this reactionary attack on workers - and on our collective bargaining rights, within two weeks from the date of adoption of this Special Declaration, failing which we shall launch a targeted campaign against them to ultimately compel them to do so. This includes the filing of an immediate demand to that effect by all our affiliates to all employers in the various sectors where we are organised.

We also call on member formations - and supporters of the tripartite Alliance to reject this attack on our worker rights.

We will file an appropriate NEDLAC demand resisting this anti-worker initiative.

We will explore the filing of a complaint to be lodged with the International Labour Organisation.

We also call for a massive protected general strike as soon as possible, to back up our demands.

We mandate our Federationís next Central Executive Committee (CEC) to resolve the modalities of how most appropriately to give effect to the decisions contained in this declaration.

We shall not flinch from implementing our 11th National Congress mandate to significantly step up our campaigns and our demand for a Living Wage.

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