Taking COSATU Today Forward
‘Whoever sides with the revolutionary people in deed as well as in word is a revolutionary in the full sense’-Maoo
Our side of the story
Friday, 3 September 2021
‘Deepen the Back to Basics Campaign, Consolidate the Struggle for the NDR and Advance the Struggle for Socialism’
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Dumisane Magagula, SAMWU Deputy General Secretary, 3 September 2021
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) is currently engaged in salary and wage negotiation for our members and municipal workers in both the Amanzi Bargaining Council (ABC) with the country’s 12 waterboards and the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) with the country’s 257 municipalities an their entities, represented by the employer body, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
Salary and wage negotiations for workers in the country’s waterboards commenced earlier this year under the auspices of the Amanzi Bargaining Council. Several rounds of negotiations failed to bring parties together hence a dispute was declared resulting in the negotiations going into Conciliations.
We are please to report that following rigorous engagements in the Bargaining Council, parties have agreed on most items and a salary and wage collective agreement will be concluded and signed in the next few days.
Parties have agreed on the following;
1. A single year salary and wage collective agreement backdated to 01 July 2021
2. A 5,5% salary increase
3. R3000 housing allowance for all workers under the ABC
4. A minimum of 10% of basic salary to be paid as standby allowance capped at 14 days.
5. A minimum of 10% of basic salary to be paid as standby allowance.
6. Five months fully paid maternity leave
7. Five days fully paid paternity leave
8. Deferral of danger allowance, cellphone allowance and Occupational Nurses to plant level
9. Establishment of a Task Team to conclude on pension fund contributions, medical aid, tenure of salary/ wage protection and shift configuration within three months.
Negotiations in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council began in March this year in anticipation of the previous salary and wage collective agreement coming to an end at the end of June this year.
Various rounds of negotiations yielded no positive results and as such the facilitator was asked to issue her proposal. All parties in the Bargaining Council rejected the facilitator’s proposal resulting in separate disputes being declared by all parties.
The declaration of disputes by all parties resulted in Conciliation process over several rounds with the Conciliator releasing his recommendations to parties for consideration as follows;
1. A 3 year salary and wage collective agreement effective July 2021
2. A 3.5% salary increase in the first year of the agreement and a salary increase linked to projected CPI in the outer years of the agreement (2022 and 2023).
3. A once-off amount R4000 for employees earning less than R12500 and R3000 once-off for those earning R12501 and above.
4. Sectoral minimum wage to increase by 3,5% salary increase in the first year of the agreement, the increase will be linked to salary increases in the outer years of the agreement.
5. A 0% increase in housing allowance and medical aid cap in the first year of the agreement. This freeze will be lifted in the second year of the agreement.
6. Demands for Medical Aid contribution and maternity and paternity leave to be deferred to the process of renegotiating the Main Collective Agreement.
7. Parties to agree on a process of investigating the employability of EPWP and CWP employees who are based in municipalities.
Parties in the SALGBC were given until the 31st August 2021 to indicate their acceptance of rejection of the Conciliator’s recommendations.
The union’s Special National Executive Committee meeting held on the 31st August 2021 resolved by a majority vote to accept the Conciliator’s recommendations on the condition that the following adjustments are considered.
1. The duration of the agreement,
2. Payment of the once-off amount to be done by no later than December 2021.
3. Housing gap market,
4. No freeze on benefits in the first year of the agreement.
As a result, parties will be returning for Conciliation on the 13th and 14th September to engage on the amendments. A Bargaining Committee meeting will be convened on the 15th September to consolidate on the amendments that the union had been mandated to make forward.
As a worker controlled trade union, we will immediately after the Bargaining Committee meeting convene structural meetings of the union to consolidate the outcomes of the two meetings.
We want to assure our members that there will be no agreement signed by the union without the explicit say by members.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Isaac Kazi, NUM PWV Acting Regional Secretary, 3 September 2021
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) PWV Region is relieved that after numerous engagements with the construction company Wilson Bayly Holmes WBHO, workers are set to be paid their Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
Earlier this year, the NUM PWV Region demanded an immediate approval of the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) application by the Department of Labour so that WBHO workers could receive what was due to them.
Thousands of WBHO workers were left in the cold during the lockdown period, unable to access assistance from the government.
The TERS benefit was introduced in March last year to help workers affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. It was introduced as the government’s wage protection scheme that could provide relief to workers who did not receive much-needed money during the first five months of the lockdown. It was initially set to run for three months, from April to June. The government then extended the scheme to run from August 16 to mid-September. In November, it was extended for another month, until October 15.
Our members did not get their December leave payment because TERS did not approve the application by WBHO.
Few days before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced lockdown level 5 in March 2020, the NUM and WBHO agreed that annual leave days will be used to pay employees during the lockdown.
This agreement was done before the announcement of TERS by the Department of Employment and Labour.
WBHO paid full salary to our members during the period of lockdown, and after the announcement of TERS by the Department of Labour, WBHO applied for TERS, so that workers did not forfeit their leave days.
A green light has been given by the Department of Employment and Labour through the Office of the UIF Commissioner. We are happy with the process so far. The only delay that could be expected is that of verifying workers’ bank accounts. We were to meet with the UIF commissioner a week ago, due to the Commissioner’s unavailability the meeting was rescheduled for a date which the commissioner would be available.
"We are currently awaiting for the payments to reflect on our members’ accounts. We would like to appreciate the patience demonstrated by our members. Our members trusted us, and we would keep updating them”, said NUM PWV Acting Regional Secretary Isaac Kazi.
Matthew Parks, COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator, 3 September 2021
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes Parliament’s adoption of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.
The Federation and its Affiliates have been at the forefront leading the campaign for South Africa to ratify this crucial ILO Convention. We have done so as part of our gender rights programme of action, which includes taking a firm and unwavering stand against gender-based violence.
It is symbolically fitting that Parliament’s adoption comes as South Africa concludes women’s month.
What remains to be done is for government to inform the ILO that South Africa has now joined the ranks of nations that have ratified it.
Government must also nudge other ILO member states along so that they too ratify it, and it becomes a binding Convention for the international community.
Whilst we are of the view that the ratification process could have been done quicker, COSATU is pleased that there is now no turning back from converting this progressive tool in the fight against workplace harassment and violence to a central pillar of our employment law regime.
Its ratification will be a critical boost in the fight against the pandemic of Gender Based Violence that women are subject to across countless workplaces.
The Department of Employment and Labour and social partners at Nedlac need to immediately begin engaging on a review of our labour and criminal legislation to ensure that they are in full compliance with the progressive provisions of Convention 190 and where amendments are needed, to fast track these.
Issued by COSATU
Zanele Matebula, COSATU International Deputy Secretary, 3 September 2021
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has been observing and actively engaging with the tragic developments in Swaziland, notably in the past 3 months. But fact being that it has happening since the royal state of emergency in 1973 which turned Swaziland into one big political prison for all its people.
COSATU condemns the normalization of brutal force by the state police against unarmed civilians of eSwatini. We are totally outraged by the more than 74 lives lost, several hundreds injured and more than 700 jailed for standing up for democracy, in just a space of 3 months.
COSATU has consistently stood in solidarity with the people of Swaziland, being with them in the trenches when it was not fashionable to do so, as we spoke out decisively against the despotism of the monarchy. At first it was alleged that COSATU does not speak for anyone in Swaziland, even though invited by the progressive forces and workers to offer solidarity. Recent events have only served to confirm the truth that the people of Swaziland have long been demanding democracy and justice.
We can only affirm that consistent and humble contribution has served to inspire the people to confidently reject oppression, systemic violence and abuse of power, hence taking the struggle in their own hands.
For that reason, we wish to outline a plan of action for the week of the 6th – 10th September, 2021. This week coincides with the day during which Eswatini elites celebrate “Independence Day”. But activists around the world recognize it as the global week of action on Swaziland (GWoAS).
It is the week we mark to expose the cruelty and social disparities affecting ordinary Swazis. The GWoAS came into being in 2010 through the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) a concept of COSATU and its affiliates, working together with progressive forces from both within Swaziland, South Africa and other parts of the world that support the struggle of the Swazi People. Notably, COSATU is in discussion to revive the SDC to carry forward the work of actively coordinating active and sustained solidarity work on Swaziland.
Since the beginning of the latest uprising eSwatini in June 2021, we have been horrified by the amount of real evidence, through videos and personal testimonies of people injured and murdered by the state police and military forces ordered by Mswati.
We have further witnessed constant harassment, threats and assaults of activists and their families. We could not but ask ourselves, what order can be restored by killing innocent civilians for demanding human rights, justice and dignity? This begs another question, what does independence mean for an ordinary citizen of eSwatini who is not a Dlamini or related to the ruling Dlamini dynasty?
For the first time we have are witnessing a new era that brings together different generations under the same banner of calling for democratic change and reform in Swaziland. The young and the old, men and women collectively demanding change. This has shown an even bigger awakening that has made the people speak in one voice as they seek justice on the glaring socio-economic conditions that can only be resolved through real change of the whole governance system in eSwatini.
Through the GWoAS campaign, COSATU seeks to carry forward the work left by the fallen giants of the Swazi struggle, such Mario Masuku, Jan Sithole and others who died demanding democracy and people’s power through; the unbanning of political parties, the release of all political prisoners, towards an inclusive political dialogue, a transitional authority and a new democratic constitution for the country.
We wish to further emphasise our demand for the release of all political prisoners, including our dear stalwart and brave soldier Amos Mbedzi, who is a prisoner of conscience and has become very ill, subjected to very inhumane and cruel torture, denied medical care and other rights as a human being. Together with the bold and brave members of parliament who are in jail and another in exile, deserve our full and unconditional support.
We once again, call on King Mswati III to stop being in denial, self-centred and arrogant, but recognize the urgency for earnest and robust dialogue between himself and the people of Swaziland that will drive the process of change. History has taught us that it never ends well for despotic leaders when they refuse basic rights for their people. Fortunately, all evidence confirms that the will of the people always triumph.
In this regard, as COSATU, working together with our sister federations in the region and beyond will embark in a week long activities as a show of solidarity and mobilization of support across the world for change in response to the call by the people of Swaziland.
The Programme of action
The Global Week of Action Programme is as follows:
1. 6 September
· Meetings/Petitions at all Tinkhundla Centers in the morning.
· Progressive Democratic Formation in Swaziland to be on the ground conducting a listening campaigns and community meetings
· In the afternoon 2 virtual seminars
Ø one organized by COSATU to feature speakers from South Africa, International Trade Union Movement and Swaziland Democratic Forces.
Ø Second organized by United Eswatini Diaspora which will feature speakers from all over the world.
2. 7th September
· Two virtual seminars or discussions.
Ø 1st Young workers from South Africa and Swaziland Dialogue.
Ø 2nd Memorial Service for the victims of Mswati massacre speakers will include Political Leaders, relatives of deceased comrades, comrades injured and relatives for those still in jail including MPS.
3. 8th September
· Meeting for all stakeholders in KZN with the COSATU PEC
4. 9th September
· 3 Boarder blockades
Ø 2 borders in Mpumalanga namely Matsamo (Jeppes Reef), Ngwenya (Oshoek),
Ø 1 Boarder in KZN namely Lavumisa (Golela).
COSATU, its affiliates and friend remain committed to support the demands of the Swazi people to achieve a democratic dispensation that will be designed and in the interest of the people and not a royal minority and their friends.
Issued by COSATU
Norman Mampane (Shopsteward Editor)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street, Braamfontein, 2017
P.O.Box 1019, Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct line: 010 219-1348