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
Tuesday, 26 October 2021
‘Deepen the Back to Basics Campaign, Consolidate the Struggle for the NDR and Advance the Struggle for Socialism’
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The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Tshwane region has noted with great anger that Mr. Randall Williams, Mayor of the City of Tshwane has resorted to politicising the demands by workers for the implementation of salaries and wages as agreed in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).
The utterances by the mayor have not sat well with workers who have now gone four months without a salary increase. Instead of attending to the legitimate demands of workers, the Mayor has been quoted as saying that workers are fighting political battles. We want to categorically state that ours is not a political battle but a battle for the implementation of salary and wage increases as agreed in the SALGBC.
To make matters worse, the Mayor has been on several media platforms unashamedly lying by saying that there are no actions in other Metros in the country and that these Metros have not implemented the salary increases for workers. The lies peddled by the Mayor are an attempt to create a public perception that the City of Tshwane is being systematically targeted because it is governed by the Democratic Alliance.
For the record, other Metros have implemented the salary and wage increases; the City of Johannesburg has implemented the agreement further making an undertaking that the once-off payment of R4000 will be paid by December this year, the City of Ekurhuleni has informed workers that their salary increases will be paid in November this year, other Metros such as Buffalo City, Ethekwini Metro, have implemented the SALGBC agreement.
The Mayor is therefore hiding behind the upcoming local government election but in doing so has lied about the implementation of salary and wage increases in other Metros. The demand by workers for the implementation of this agreement is in no way political, as one would have seen there have been actions by workers throughout the country in municipalities that have not been implemented including the DA-led City of Cape Town and in Mogale City which is not governed by the DA, but workers are currently fighting for the correction of the wage gap. Most importantly workers in Sedibeng Water had staged demonstrations at the water utility over the non-payment of increases, Sedibeng Water is not administered by the DA.
Of great concern to us is that the Mayor has proven himself to either not being able to read or totally oblivious of the developments in the sector which he wants to lead again after the 1st of November. The Mayor has been consistent with his lies that the City has until March next year to make a determination on the implementation of the agreement.
Nowhere in the SALGBC agreement does it make provisions for municipalities to determine by the end of March next year if they will be paying workers their salary increase.
Workers in the City of Tshwane will continue demanding the implementation of the SALGBC agreement, we are not going to sit back and allow clueless and pathological liars such as Randall William to reverse the gains that have been made for workers. Ours is to champion the interests of workers, a fight which we will fight until the realisation of the salary and wage increases in the City of Tshwane.
The local government elections have no bearing on this fight, but since the Mayor has decided to bring it up as defence through his lies and in the ability to read, the events in Tshwane have shown that Mr. Williams is not a suitable candidate to lead this City.
Issued by SAMWU Tshwane Region
COSATU in Gauteng has noted with disgust the undermining of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the Labour Relations Act by Blyvoor Mine Management in Carletonville. Mineworkers at Blyvoor Mine were forced to join a union supported by Blyvoor Mine Management called Blyvoor Workers Union. On realizing that the union was pro-management, mineworkers decided to exercise their constitutional right and join the National Union of Mineworkers.
Blyvoor Mine Management decided to dismiss almost 300 mineworkers for joining the union of their choice. When dealing with this disgusting action, the leadership of NUM in the mine was harassed and some were even arrested. Whilst we appreciate that NUM has followed the Labour Relations processes by engaging the CCMA and now at the Labour Court, 300 families have been without income and food since March 2021.
What is more worrying to COSATU is that these workers made it possible for mine owners to get a license to mine, but the very same mineworkers who were matching to Merafong Local Municipality are now laid off for exercising their rights to belong to the union of their choice. The living condition in Blyvoor Mine residence is appalling with continuous electricity cuts, damaged road infrastructure, and to a larger extent shortage of water.
With all being said, we are calling Blyvoor Mine Management to save workers the Labour Court long route and reinstate all dismissed NUM members within seven days. COSATU working with NUM and alliance partners in West Rand will be engaging in a rolling mass action starting with the march to Blyvoor Mine offices. We will further engage with the office of the MEC of Social Development in Gauteng to roll out a social relief program at Blyvoor.
COSATU will also engage the Department of Employment and Labour to secure UIF payments to these workers as well as engage the Department of Minerals to look at the commitment to workers when a license was issued.
27th – 29th October 2021 - Monomutapa Crown Plaza Hotel, Harare.
President of ZCTU, Peter Mutasa
Members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ZCTU
Ministry and Officials of the Zimbabwean Government
Executive Secretary of SATUCC, Mavis Koogotsitse
SATUCC CEC members present here today
Fraternal Organisations and allies,
Invited Guests and Partner organisations
Esteemed delegates and participants to this important National Congress
Comrades and friends
On behalf of the NOBs of COSATU and the entire membership, please receive warm and fraternal greetings, dear comrades.
COSATU is honoured by the invitation to participate in this very historic gathering of the working class of Zimbabwe, the 9th Ordinary Congress of the ZCTU. We are also honoured by the assurance that we are not just guests, we are part and have been part of this important movement for years now.
We have been arrested together, deported together, marched together, fought together in ILO, SADC meetings and wherever the battle lines called for our joint action and solidarity.
ZCTU is our movement, our trusted ally and comrades in the trenches for a democratic and just Zimbabwe, as well as for a new, equitable and democratic SADC which we shall never stop fighting for.
This journey together began during our shared struggles in the trenches against apartheid and colonialism in the region, we worked together to mould a movement of the working class to resist and fight against any and all forms of injustice, oppression and exploitation. This we must underline, as there are tendencies to assume we only fighting for democracy and workers rights during post-colonial times as if we are “peace-times revolutionaries”.
The role of the working class in the defeat of colonialism, apartheid and now undemocratic rule, is indispensable in each of our countries and throughout the region. This is both a commitment and a duty to workers and the future generations of Southern Africans.
The recently held Mid Term Conference of COSATU, the Central Committee (CC), which was on the 20th – 23rd September 2021, underlined a critical point that the SADC region is undergoing the most profound changes in political and social terms, since the end of apartheid and colonialism. It further underlined that it is a region in motion and creates a solid basis for a true regional solidarity movement, in which we envisage the working class as the principal force, key organiser and leader of that momentum.
This is our common duty and task dear comrades. From Zimbabwe to Eswatini, from Botswana to the DRC, from Angola to Mozambique, From Lesotho to Zambia, from Seychelles to Madagascar, from Tanzania to South Africa, this is the size and scale of our mission.
This region is orphaned without us playing our indispensable role to clean off all and every element of oppression, exploitation, abuse of women and children, corruption, patronage, underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment. This means the battle for the industrialisation of our region to create jobs and develop local skills and value chains that empower our people and youth in particular.
That we shall not do if we do not clean despots and self-interested leaders who abuse power and public resources for their own ends.
Towards this end, the situation in eSwatini has been our common baby comrades, as has been the situation here in Zimbabwe. We offer no apologies that we are proud Africans and remain unwavering in our determination that a better life is our mission and for it, all and everything to the battle-front. The leading detachment of this driving force for change is you, is us, is workers.
We stand to lose more from the continuation of the status quo and the perpetuation of poor governance, looting of public resources and hunger as we currently see and experience it. Who feels and experience hunger, poverty and abuse more than all others? It is workers and the poor, women, children, vulnerable communities, people with disabilities and the elderly.
This is the crux of the matter and the reason why it’s not a choice for us to stand by and make idle comments in a sea of misery and suffering.
We have a king eSwatini, who thinks he owns the country and the people like his private property, who loots without apology and who abuse and murder his own people as wild animals. The abuse of our traditions and cultural values as Africans to protect and reproduce parasitism must end.
We must support TUCOSWA and the people of eSwatini for democratic change and freedom from oppression. This will send a message to all and every one of our leaders about the indispensability of workers’ rights, freedom of association and democracy
SADC must stop know towing to despots and oppressors. We said the same when the Zimbabwe situation was on the SADC table, that the people and workers must come first than self-serving elites, who are not in any way advancing Africa, but their selfish interests.
COSATU is concerned and decisively calling for the ratification of Convention 190 to fight the scourge of Gender-Based Violence and all forms of abuse and harassment, particularly against women and LGBTQI+. Gender justice means more equality, not less, more freedoms for all, more access to opportunities and more development for everyone. It should never threaten any comrade or person. We all must fight against it as workers and leaders.
Solidarity with the working class of Zimbabwe during hard conditions of the COVID pandemic
We are living through a difficult time of the COVID 19 pandemic and the permanent crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequalities in most of our countries. This disproportionately imposes further burdens on workers and their families and communities.
According to the World Bank Report on Zimbabwe, titled; “Zimbabwe Overview”, released on the 23rd of March, 2021, “The pandemic and its impacts disrupted livelihoods, especially in urban areas, and added 1.3 million to the extreme poor. Estimates suggest the number of extreme poor reached 7.9 million in 2020—almost 49% of the population. Surveys indicate that nearly 500,000 households have at least one member who lost their job in 2020, causing many to fall into poverty and worsening the plight of the existing poor.
It went on to say, “In 2020, gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have contacted by 8% for the second year in a row as COVID-19 halted economic recovery”.
Though it ends with a glimpse of hope, when it says, “After facing an economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Zimbabwe’s economy is set to rebound by 2.9% in 2021, supported by the recovery of agriculture and due to base effects. Expected bumper harvest and continuation of rule-based monetary policy will stabilize food prices and improve food security. However, disruptions caused by the pandemic will continue to weigh on economic activity in Zimbabwe, limiting employment growth and improvements in living standards”.
This is the story of all workers in the different countries of our continent and beyond. This is the lesson of how our state of readiness for pandemics, health crisis and social emergencies are critical to protect and save lives, jobs and livelihoods. This call we have made several times in various SADC platforms and international representations on the urgency of advancing decent work and people-centred development.
This makes the case for building worker solidarity, particularly with the informal and very vulnerable workers, particularly migrants, women and youth.
In this regard, we extend solidarity to all workers, particularly on the African continent and other parts of the global south, who are facing these hard and painful conditions we are all going through.
Beyond lamenting, this picture says one message above all, that building and renewing our organisations, strengthening our ability to service workers and defending their rights is an absolute duty and priority for our organisations.
Building SATUCC is what this Congress must be seized with too
ZCTU is a proud founder member of SATUCC and therefore, has a disproportionate responsibility in the building and strengthening of our regional organisation.
In our last Congress of SATUCC, held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, we made a set of commitments to building and renewing the trade union movement in the SADC region, strengthening our solidarity work, capacitating our office in Gaborone and placing SATUCC at the centre of regional change and transformation.
We said, gone are the days when employers and governments in the region, would subject workers to job insecurity, abuse and exploitation. We went on to say, we are the masters of our own destiny and suffer from poor policies and governance practices.
We adopted several resolutions in Tanzania, which comprehensively covered matters of the transformation of the economy for an inclusive, developmental and job-creating trajectory. They also covered climate change and the urgency of food security and the building of the manufacturing capacity of our individual countries and the region collectively.
Towards this end, we have welcomed the AcFTA as a step forward in that direction but made it clear we still need tighter regulations on the sources of origin, to avoid flooding our markets with imports that kill our local industries.
We also adopted an Organisational Renewal and long-term sustainability Resolution and Plan to determine the proper funding model of SATUCC and our national federations themselves. This Plan must be taken to new levels, but meanwhile, let us all do our part to strengthen our regional body.
Therefore, as we prepare for the next Congress of SATUCC, we must honestly answer the question, how far are we with our commitments and plan to change and strengthen our organisation.
With these few words dear comrades, we wish this Congress all the best in your deliberations and look forward to the productive outcomes that shall help us answer the real and pressing issues facing the workers of Zimbabwe and the whole region.
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