The Congress of South African Trade Unions is calling on its members and all workers in the country to come out with their families to celebrate the International Worker’s Day on the 1st of May. This Mayday workers celebration is being held this year under the theme; “Celebrating 30 Years and defending Collective Bargaining, Workers Jobs and Rights”.
The federation is geared up and ready for this coming workers holiday and will be convening a series of activities all around the country to celebrate this crucial holiday. Workers should use this May Day to reflect and remember the victims of the Bethlehem bus crash, where 53 COSATU members perished on their way to QwaQwa, when their bus drove into a dam near Bethlehem, Free State on the ,1st of May 2003. This terrible accident lies at the heart of the federation’s decision to decentralize May Day events because, we do not want workers to travel long distances. We also extend our condolences to the families our ANC Ekurhuleni comrades, who passed away in an accident on their way back from the ANC Manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth. We wish all the injured a speedy recovery.
COSATU’s National May Day event will be held at Moretele Park in Mamelodi in Tshwane and it will be addressed by the following alliance leadership: COSATU – Comrade Sidumo Dlamini (President) ANC – Comrade Jacob Zuma (President), SACP – Comrade Blade Nzimande (General Secretary) and SANCO – Comrade Richard Mdakane (President). There will be other rallies in all of our provinces, and we urge our members to come out in numbers.
Workers should use this period to reflect on their past victories and also get ready for the struggles that lie ahead. This day was never given on a silver platter to workers and it is a living proof that workers struggles can produce tangible rights for workers if they are united. We look back with pride, when we remember that this is day that was seized by workers, students and communities in 1986, when the apartheid regime did not want to recognise it.
Today, we have seen parliament signing into law the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Act, which will see funds channelled to workers by increasing UIF benefits from 8 months to 12 months, increasing maternity leave payments from 54% of income to 66%, including mothers ,who had miscarriages and still-born’s under maternity leave. This new law will also cover benefits for domestic workers.
In our fight against Labour Brokers, we forced government to change the law to protect the vulnerable workers by insisting that they have to be permanently employed after working for three months. We are continuing with this campaign though because we want the total banning of labour brokers.
Recently, through our united struggles, we have forced government to stop the Provident Fund Reforms. The changes will now allow workers to withdraw a lump sum of their monies when retiring. The White Paper on the National Health Insurance is out and there is a commitment to release the Comprehensive Social Security paper. Government is fully behind the introduction of a legislated National Minimum Wage. We now have a State Pharmaceutical company, Ketlaphela, and government has done an excellent job to fight the spread of HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis. We now have a right to strike, right to bargain and also we have access to electricity, water, sanitation and other basic necessities.
These are just some of the victories that we have achieved but the struggle still continues and there are bigger battles ahead. The global economic downturn has seen workers losing their jobs at a frightening rate and most of them are struggling to put food on the table.Workers continue to be subjected to low wages and low pensions and there is also a concerted effort to undermine social security.
It is deeply disquieting to see that the economic growth has fallen from 1.5% (2014) to 1.3% (2015) and this year it is expected to be at 0.9%. This is below the international average and the working class is paying a heavy price. According to the latest Quarterly Labour Survey out of the 36 million people in the working-age population, 24.5% are officially unemployed as at the end of last year.
This is happening at the same time the National Treasury under Minister Pravin Gordhan has been forcefully implementing policies that are geared at pleasing big business and sovereign rating agencies. This behaviour fits well with an international trend in which government policies bolsters the ideological existence of capitalism; whilst at the same time heightening an offensive by shifting the burden of the economic crisis on to the working class.
It is for this reason that in this May Day, we will be placing a clear demand for a new approach in reforming the country’s economy. We are also reiterating our call for a jobs summit to discuss the ongoing retrenchments and unemployment. The time has arrived for workers to unite and push back against the reckless policies and activities of financial institutions, which have given rise to poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Unity of COSATU
We are forging ahead on the path of the mandate given to us by the 12th National Congress to deepen and consolidate the unity and cohesion of the federation, based on an understanding that COSATU’s unity is sacrosanct. We have engaged and spoken to all our unions and all of them have committed to work for the unity of the federation. There is acceptance that unity of the federation does not mean absence of differences and that achieving unity will not be an event but a process. There is also acceptance that COSATU founding principles must be defended and that decisions taken by our constitutional structures are binding and must be respected by all.
We reiterate our call for the workers to close ranks and defend the federation from its enemies. We are clear that monopoly capital remains our number one enemy; but we also know that a tiny minority of discredited and expelled former COSATU leaders have since declared themselves the enemies of the federation. They meet in dark corners with racists unions such as Solidarity, and the DA, EFF to plot against COSATU.
We have also noted that they are planning to form a new federation and that they have been trying to divide our unions. We are not threatened by these discredited and expelled former leaders because we know them. They can never build anything because they have versatility of convictions and also do not want to be led. They have no time for democratic centralism and they only are there to look after their interests.
We are ready to defend COSATU and we caution them that wishful thinking will not be enough to kill this worker’s federation. We also want to remind them that this is not a new or a novel idea, because 31 years ago, when COSATU was launched, the same people, who fund them today, tried to launch a new federation in the shape of UWUSA but failed miserably.
This 2016 May Day events will be held in the context of an increasingly aggressive posture on the part of western imperialism around the world; especially towards the BRICS block. These countries have presented themselves as an alternative engine of growth and development for the world economy and as an anti –thesis to the USA and European based growth and development models. However, even these inspiring developments are currently being threatened by counter revolution and are facing aggressive imperialist schemes to roll them back. We note with admiration the indomitable resolve of the workers of South America in their resistance and in defence of their gains. As ever, we pledge solidarity with them!
COSATU is also reiterating its call for a united and functioning alliance. To build a functioning Alliance, we need to courageously fight corruption, elitism, bureaucracy, factionalism, gate keeping and favouritism in the alliance structures. We need to enforce in practice that the Alliance is made of equal partners and that there is no junior partner in the Alliance.
We need to ensure that people do not use their power and positions in our movement, to advance their own personal or factional interests. We have to reintroduce the culture of organisational discipline. COSATU is adamant that the Alliance remains the only vehicle available to the workers to advance a second more radical phase of our National Democratic Revolution. We all need to defend its unity and ensure that its programmes are taken forward. We congratulate the workers and communities in KZN for a successful COSATU/ SACP march that was held in the province this last Saturday.
ANC and the 2016 Local government Elections
The federation is happy with the ANC Manifesto and as per our 12th National Congress resolution the municipal elections campaign will be an integral part of our 2016 programme of action.
Amongst others, the manifesto makes the following commitments which address many of the issues we have raised and those which directly respond to the plight of the working class communities:
a) On Outsourcing: Ensuring that municipal services remain the core function of municipalities. Discouraging municipalities from outsourcing the basic services they are able to render themselves. Building delivery capacity in municipalities with a view to reducing outsourcing of municipal services.
b) On accessibility and accountability: Improve accessibility and accountability of ANC councillors through regular report back and feedback meetings in communities. Councillors will sign performance and accountability agreements
c) On Local Procurement: Promoting local procurement of goods and services to increase local production of goods.
d) On employment : it priotises the Promotion of Youth Employment
e) On crime and corruption: it commits to intensify the fight against fraud and corruption in local government by mobilising communities to play an active role in fighting fraud and corruption.
We call on our members to campaign for the ANC to ensure that it gets a decisive election victory in the upcoming elections on the 3rd August 2016. We reiterate our message that, we will also not support candidates, who have not been endorsed by communities, including those implicated in corruption and criminal activities. To defend the ANC and the revolution, we need to ensure that the ANC wins decisively in the local government elections.
We have every confidence in the ANC as the leader of the alliance that it will provide the necessary leadership to fix what is wrong with itself and its government. We call on ANC leaders to foster unity and act in the interests of the ANC. They should not allow the upcoming 54th National Conference to distract them from the urgent priorities of the movement.
Taking forward our 12th National Congress Campaigns
This May Day also heralds the reaffirmation and the intensification of our campaigns. We are ready to strengthen our campaigning capacity so as to ensure that we rollout and win the following campaigns this year:
1) We want the immediate introduction of a legislated National Minimum Wage (NMW).
2) We want the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI). We are tired of the greedy medical aid schemes and the greedy private healthcare industry that has been victimising South Africans through high prices.
3) We want the amendment of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) in order to Ban Labour Brokers.
4) We want government to do away with Youth Wage Subsidy because it is not working. We demand that government do away with this system and invest in education, skills development and training.
5) We want the decimation of the scourge of Racism in all its forms. We will campaign for more stringent methods to be adopted to fight it.
6) We shall continue to fight to stop the unilateral Provident Fund Reforms and demand the introduction of a Comprehensive Social Security system.
7) We will campaign for the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank and we find it horrifying that the SARB has outsourced one of its core functions, the printing of money to European countries. Money supply cannot be outsourced by any self respecting economy and we demand the immediate in sourcing of this core function of the Reserve Bank.
8) We want the total Scrapping of E Tolls and the introduction of an affordable, safe and reliable integrated Public Transport System
9) We will campaign for the creation of decent jobs; oppose the ongoing Job losses and Retrenchments. We reiterate our call for a jobs summit.
Issued by COSATU – See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=11601#sthash.u6ULYX2K.dpuf