Taking COSATU Today Forward, 8 November 2021

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Norman Mampane

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Nov 8, 2021, 10:08:12 AM11/8/21
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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

Monday, 8 November 2021


‘Deepen the Back to Basics Campaign, Consolidate the Struggle for the NDR and Advance the Struggle for Socialism’

All workers urged to take Covid19 vaccine jabs!

Organize at every workplace and demand Personal Protective Equipment Now!

Defend Jobs Now!

Join COSATU NOW!

 

Contents                      

  • Workers Parliament: Back to Basics!
  • The upcoming Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement should respond to the issues raised by South Africans during the Local Government Elections Campaign 
  • NEHAWU to convene a Press Conference Post the 12th National Congress
  • South Africa
  • COSATU congratulates NEHAWU on convening a successful National Congress 
  • POPCRU congratulates NEHAWU on its successful 12th National Congress
  • International-Workers’ Solidarity!

Ø  Just Transition declaration adopted at COP26

Ø  Unions uneasy over South African Just Transition finance deal announced at COP26

Workers’ Parliament-Back2Basics 

The upcoming Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement should respond to the issues raised by South Africans during the Local Government Elections Campaign 

Sizwe Pamla, Cosatu National Spokesperson, 08 November 2021 

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and South African workers, in general, have high expectations from the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) due to be tabled at Parliament on 11 November by Minister for Finance, Enoch Godongwana.  

The annual economic results are in since the February Budget, and the economy is in its deepest recession in a hundred years, unemployment has pushed past 44%, key State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and municipalities are in varying stages of collapse, rampant corruption and load shedding are hobbling any chance of economic recovery. Clearly, a timid and austerity-focused Budget Speech that was delivered in February this year has spectacularly failed. 

With this kind of feedback, we expect that the policymakers and decision-makers will admit their mistakes and change the policies that have worsened an already bad situation. They need to table an MTBPS that will ignite the economy, stabilise the state and provide relief to workers and the unemployed.  

The July riots in KZN and Gauteng, and the recent local government have made it clear that South Africans are demanding change; it is up to this government to decide whether it is going to be a change in policies and behavior or a change of government. 

This MTBPS should be about saving and creating jobs. Government must lead the way when it comes to employment creation. It must compulsorily require all the SOEs, Agencies nationally and provincially and local government to submit internship plans, each must have a quota per year, at minimum wage level and the same can be done by labour and private sector.  

The Federation wants the government to respect collective bargaining and stop unilateral wage freezes. 

If the government is serious about stabilising the fiscus, then politicians and their offspring must stop stealing.  

The extravagant packages given to underperforming Ministers, Premiers, Mayors, and SOEs Executives must be cut.   

Budget cuts must be abandoned they only serve to choke the economy when it needs to be stimulated.  

We hope to see the following presented in the MTBPS on Thursday: 

  • A mass stimulus package that will lift the economy out of the recession. 
  • Tripling of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme to R33 billion so that it can create 2 million job opportunities. 
  • Measures to modernise the Unemployment Insurance Fund so that it is more efficient. 
  • Extension of the Covid-19 Special Relief Dispensation Grant (R350) beyond March 2022 and increasing it to the food poverty line. We reject the proposal to abandon it or replace social grants with a single grant per household. This will plunge millions into despair and will be an administrative nightmare. 
  • Tabling an Amendment Bill to allow financially distressed public and private sector workers limited access to their pension funds. 
  • Relief for sectors of the economy that are badly affected by Covid-19 and the recession  
  • Additional resources for SARS to tackle tax evasion, enforce customs collections on imports, implement lifestyle audits for politicians and the wealthy. 
  • Close tax loopholes and increase taxes for those earning about R1.5 million as well as inheritance and estate taxes for the wealthy, and import duties on luxury goods. 
  • A single, transparent, online public procurement system for the entire state. This will help save costs, ramp up local procurement and ensure suppliers are paid within 30 days. It should also provide for the centralised procurement for certain large-scale items e.g., medicines, textbooks, vehicles. The Public Procurement Bill providing for this must be tabled at Nedlac by the end of 2021. 
  • Reversal of reckless austerity budget cuts to key economic departments and public services that threaten economic growth and undermine service delivery, especially for the CCMA which has seen a flood of workers seeking protection; and health and education infrastructure that is key to saving lives and ensuring that the youth are equipped with the skills to find jobs. 
  • Strengthen the ban on politicians doing business with the state to include their spouses and children, as well as the leaders of ruling political parties. 
  • Provide additional capacity for the National Prosecuting Authority, Hawks, Police, and Commercial Crimes Courts to ensure that corruption cases are prioritised and successfully prosecuted. 
  • Act on the damning findings of the Auditor-General on the dismal situation in local government.   
  • Additional support for Eskom as the economy will not recover without reliable and affordable electricity. 
  • Turn around plans to stabilise and save collapsing State-Owned Enterprises that are key to unlocking the economy.  
  • Additional resources to support industrial financing, support for emerging farmers, and export credits that are key to growing the economy. 
  • The mobilisation of every possible source of stimulus to spur economic growth. 
    • The release of the draft amendment of Regulation 28 to allow pension funds to invest in infrastructure is welcome and needs to be finalised 
    • The announcement of R130 billion in just transition financing for Eskom will be a boost to the economy. It must ensure that no coal mining or energy worker or communities are left behind 
    • A revamped Loan Guarantee Scheme to support emerging businesses is needed. 
    • The financial sector is not contributing to the government’s development agenda and this needs to change.  
  • Ramped up local procurement by the state, SOEs, local government and the private sector, the recent instruction for public infrastructure projects to source locally produced cement is welcome. This must be expanded to include clothing, machinery, steel and other easily available locally produced goods. 

If these measures are adopted and implemented, we believe that the economy can grow, and jobs can be saved and created.  

Issued by COSATU  

______________ 

NEHAWU to convene a Press Conference Post the 12th National Congress

Lwazi Nkolonzi, NEHAWU Acting National Spokesperson, November 08, 2021

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] convened a united and successful 12th National Congress from the 03rd – 06th November 2021, at Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg under the theme “Strengthen Workplace Organisation To Defend Collective Bargaining, Deepen Class Consciousness And Advance Internationalism".

NEHAWU invites the media to a press conference post the 12th National Congress to communicate the key outcomes of the congress. The Press Conference will be addressed by the Newly Elected National Office-Bearers (NOBs).

Details of the Press Conference:

Date: 09 November 2021

Venue: Emoyeni Conference Centre, 15 Jubilee Road, Parktown, Johannesburg

Time: 11H00

Members of the media are invited to attend and to cover the press conference. For further information, please contact: Lwazi Nkolonzi (Acting National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: lwa...@nehawu.org.za

Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za

South Africa 

COSATU congratulates NEHAWU on convening a successful National Congress 

Sizwe Pamla, Cosatu National Spokesperson, 08 November 2021 

The Congress of South African Trade unions congratulates its affiliate, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) for convening a successful National Congress. 

We wish all the newly elected National Office Bearers success as they begin to tackle the formidable challenges that lie ahead. With the global health and economic crisis in mind, the impact of the rising cost of living has eroded our members' gains these last few years.  

The expected decline in government revenue will continue to be a challenge and we are challenged to strengthen our affiliates and structures if we are to score more gains for our members.  

NEHAWU, as one of the leading unions in the federation, has a big role to play in the upcoming battles. The federation’s strategic priority is one of growing its unions and improving the services provided to members. Our starting point should be to fight for the fulfillment of the commitments agreed to in Resolution 1 of 2018. 

We expect the union to focus its attention on and act as a leader in the struggle to transform health care in our country. Working with NEHAWU and all other health sector unions, we intend to develop a comprehensive approach and intervene in a variety of areas including the establishment of NHI, the transformation of hospitals, and transforming the culture of work among health workers. 

We also expect NEHAWU to lead in our efforts to strengthen ties with progressive forces around the world. 

 Issued by COSATU    

_______

POPCRU congratulates NEHAWU on its successful 12th National Congress

Richard Mamabolo, POPCRU National Spokesperson, 8 November 2021

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) congratulates its sister union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) on its successful 12th National Congress which took place from the 3rd to 6th of November 2021 under the theme “Strengthen workplace organisation to defend collective bargaining, deepen class consciousness and advance internationalism”.

As a sister union, we are pleased about the maturity demonstrated by delegates and the leadership of the union, including the qualitative engagements on all aspects of trade union work on the international, political and socio-economic situation and the state of the organisation.

Any successful congress is about consolidating democracy and workers' control, and we are proud that NEHAWU continues to be worker-led and controlled, as this has been a long-held tradition that has seen unions wither whatever storms and tribulations.

As trade unions, we commonly have a huge task ahead of us to find answers to the ongoing onslaught that is directed against workers from within the different sectors we organise in. 

The process of fighting back against the sinister attempts to undermine collective bargaining and the erosion of workers’ rights will need united workers and a united working class. It is for this reason that we are looking forward to working together in advancing working-class struggles.

Issued by POPCRU 

International-Solidarity 

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Just Transition declaration adopted at COP26

5 November, 2021

Fourteen governments and the European Commission have adopted an ambitious Just Transition pledge which will provide the framework for an equitable transition to a climate resilient future.

The Declaration was signed by countries in the Global North with the economic weight to make it a reality, including the US, Canada, UK, the European Commission and a number of individual European countries. Wealthy countries have pledged funding for climate change mitigation and decarbonization efforts in poorer countries, and this funding will now be subject to the Just Transition principle

They will also apply the principles of the Declaration in their domestic Just Transition plans.

The text of the declaration was prepared in close collaboration between the UK government’s Just Transition lead, the ITUC, IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriAll Europe.

The Declaration builds on the Paris Agreement, the International Labour Organization’s  (ILO) Guidelines for a Just Transition, and the Silesia Declaration that was adapted at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

It recognizes that the effects of climate change and of decarbonizing the economy will fall disproportionately on those in poverty or insecure work, those in carbon-intensive industries, and those in fossil-fuel dependent countries, and that it risks exacerbating gender, racial, age and other inequalities. It aims to ensure that no one is left behind as the world transitions to a climate-friendly economy.

The principles of the Declaration are:

  • Support for workers in the transition to new jobs
  • Support and promotion of social dialogue and stakeholder engagement
  • Economic strategies leading to sustainable development, including support for fossil-fuel dependent countries to diversify their economies
  • The creation of local, inclusive, and decent work, so that new green jobs are not outsourced
  • Just Transition principles must be applied throughout the supply chain, using recognized due diligence standards
  • A commitment to reporting Just Transition progress in the framework of the Paris Agreement and the National Determined Contributions.

IndustriALL assistant general seceatry Kemal Özkan said:

“All the parties are talking about Just Transition at this COP. This is alone huge victory for us, and it shows our interventions have broken through. But there has always been a struggle over definitions, to make sure we are talking about the same thing. There has also been a lack of detail about how Just Transition will be carried out in practice.

“This Declaration sets a very important precedent. Unions in every country should disseminate it widely and ensure that their governments, companies and other stakeholders understand its contents, and lobby hard to ensure that these principles, as well as the ILO Guidelines, are adhered to.”

IndustriAll Europe deputy general secretary, Judith Kirton-Darling added:

“We are not simply talking about another declaration. We are talking about clear commitments by governments to effective social dialogue with workers and about governments accepting responsibility and accountability for the implementation of Just Transition principles within the reporting process of the Paris Agreement. Unions have high expectations towards these governments and request to be fully involved.”

The Declaration follows intensive lobbying by the labour movement over many years. Last week, IndustriALL Global and industriAll Europe launched a joint declaration, calling on governments to go beyond words on paper and implement a Just Transition with concrete measures with respect for social dialogue and workers’ participation.

At COP26 this week, unions held a number of side events to promote Just Transition initiatives. At Energy Day on 4 November, the parties announced a decarbonization partnership worth $8.5 billion for the South African energy sector that was cautiously welcomed by unions. Unions will watch developments in South Africa closely, as it provides a good test case for a large scale, international Just Transition process.

IndustriALL Global and industriAll Europe are looking forward to discussing Just Transition further at their joint side event in the EU Pavilion on coming up on Wednesday, 10 November with unions, employers, politicians and the European Commission.

___________________

Unions uneasy over South African Just Transition finance deal announced at COP26

4 November, 2021

South African trade unions affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) are supportive of a Just Transition partnership that is inclusive of the workers and poor communities through social dialogue, protects jobs and livelihoods, and promotes a socially owned renewable energy sector.

However, they say that the multilateral Just Energy Transition partnership agreement announced by United States' President Joe Biden at COP26 on 2 November, lacks details on how the energy transition will happen. The partnership worth US$8.5 billion aims to assist South African plans to close coal mines earlier and move to renewable energy sources.

The partnership, which will provide funds for the energy transition from carbon intensive coal to low carbon renewable energy sources that include solar and wind, was signed by the governments of South Africa and France, Germany, United Kingdom, US, and the European Union. It will be implemented over three to five years. The agreement is the first of its kind and a possible model for other developing countries.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa described the partnership, which is made up of concessional finance, as a “watershed moment” that will increase the country’s energy security by “creating jobs and harnessing new opportunities for investment, with support from developed economies.”
 
“Climate change is an existential challenge that confronts us all and South Africa is committed to playing its part in reducing global emissions” he said, adding that there will be investments in electrical vehicle manufacturing and green hydrogen.

According to the government, the agreement will benefit coal miners and communities. Unions say over 100,000 coal miners will lose jobs. Another 100,000 people in the communities, who make a living from the coal value chain, will need compensation when the mines are closed. Studies estimate that the just transition cost for coal mineworkers will include compensation, retraining, relocation and rehabilitation of communities and other costs related to regional economic development.

The partnership is also expected to provide funds to power utility Eskom for the decommissioning of coal-fired power stations that are concentrated in the Mpumalanga Province. South Africa is the world’s 12th highest polluter and the highest in Africa.

Irvin Jim, NUMSA general secretary says:

“We are concerned that this announcement will accelerate a rush to close coal fired power stations before a viable solution for a consistent energy supply is found. Currently renewable energy cannot meet the needs of industry. If there is to be a transition, the government must deliver a social plan to develop provinces and regions that will be affected, with specific pathways on how to replace jobs and industries.”

“While funding the transition is key, the process followed is more important to the union. The union needs assurance that workers and working-class communities will not be negatively affected. Presently, it is not clear what this money will be used for, under what conditions it will be accessed, and if a significant part of it will be used to protect workers and communities. The unions remain uneasy about the deal,”

says William Mabapa, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) acting general secretary.

The country’s energy transition policies include the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that are part of the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the Integrated Resource Plan (2019-2030) outlines how coal will be replaced by renewable energy and gas sources.

Diana Junquera Curiel, the IndustriALL director for the energy industry says:

“This is an important partnership because climate change mitigation needs global cooperation especially between the developed and developing countries. Further, the South African government must further engage with trade unions and negotiate with them to protect the interests of the workers and communities. This can be done through a detailed Just Transition plan which stipulates on fair compensation, training and other benefits for workers, and communities.”

__________________________

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

 

 

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