On our unstoppable resurgence - COSATU

Federation says that most of strikes over the year were accounted for by its unions

COSATU End of the Year Statement 2017

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has been through one of the most eventful 12 months in its 32-year history. This year ,COSATU seemed to be everywhere and the programme of rebuilding the federation was in full steam. What became obvious this year was that this giant federation is regaining its influence and it has proven once again its ability to help shape economic, political and social developments in this country and beyond.

The federation started the year with the same commitment that we had ended the year 2016, where we continued with the process of building and strengthening the engines of the federation. We rolled out our recruitment campaign and fought hard to eradicate the creeping phenomenon of some shop stewards selling out to management, including the abuse of union funds and business unionism in general. We anchored our Back to Basics Campaign by visiting workplaces and engaging with workers in their own workplaces.

It has been pleasing to witness the unrelenting commitment and commendable resilience of our affiliates in pursuit of the interests and aspirations of their members. We were inspired by how many of our affiliates were busy asserting their presence all across the sectors of our economy this year. It is this uncompromising attitude and fearless character by our affiliates that acts to re- affirm the character of COSATU as a militant, radical and class oriented federation of trade unions.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) was very busy this year despite its internal difficulties. It continued to represent the workers and keep the employers on their toes. The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] held a very successful National Congress and later convened a series of marches in different provinces to highlighting the plight of the workers and the anti-workers posture of many managers and political leaders within the public service. SADTU was marching all over the country and robustly representing the interests of their members in many platforms. Denosa was all over the country fighting against incompetence, wastage, corruption and bureaucratic arrogance in the health sector.

Our transport union SATAWU was busy sorting out many internal matters that have hobbled the organisation of late but it was also still pushing back harder against many employers and bargaining robustly on behalf of the workers. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was unwavering and uncompromising in its negotiations and also in defending workers from retrenchments. Our affiliated unions like SACCAWU convening their National Congresses and also continued to battle employers, who are hell-bent on exploiting their members. Many of our affiliates were preoccupied with the wellbeing and welfare of their own members throughout the year.

We convened about eleven very successful May Day celebrations that saw workers coming out in their numbers in all the corners of the country. Even the disruptions and the subsequent booing of President Jacob Zuma by the workers showed that they were prepared to break old bonds and hold accountable what they consider to be reckless leadership if necessary.

We also convened a successful 5th Central Committee meeting, where we saw unity in action with profound and principled debates, proving again that indeed this federation of Elijah Barayi, Alinah Rantsolase, John Gomomo, Chris Dlamini and Violet Seboni is alive and well. The Central Committee consolidated the work of our intervention in some of our troubled affiliates and made it very clear that unions cannot be allowed to use their autonomy to frustrate COSATU’s intervention processes. We have seen progress on that front with SATAWU making strides in sorting out their problems and we hope they will be able to convene their long overdue congress next year.

In the wake of COSATU internal fights, some affiliates with pre-existing weaknesses and internal divisions of their own ,were afflicted by splits, inadequate finances, turbulent factional and legal battles, and ultimately the loss of membership. The COSATU CEC continues with its tireless work of paying special attention to providing support and rolling-out solidarity programmes for unions such as SATAWU, LIMUSA, SAMWU and CEPPWAWU. We are happy though that many of the federation’s affiliates remain combat ready to take battles to the employers.

The CC also focused on socio- economic issues and confronted the stark reality that political and economic power remains in the hands of the few. The tiny minority that has amassed wealth through exploitation of our people, starvation wages, cheap labour system, denial of trade union rights, remain opposed to social transformation are still not prepared to be constructive partners.

This unstoppable resurgence of our federation was reflected by the 6th Central Committee report that showed that most of the strikes in the period under review were accounted for by COSATU unions and COSATU itself has led strategic battles for the working class on issues such as the National Minimum Wage, E-tolls, Comprehensive Social Security and the fight against Treasury’s unilateral implementation of preservation in provident funds, changes to the Unemployment Insurance Fund Act, National Health Insurance and many others.

The federation pushed back harder against some worrying tendencies that showed that government was capitulating to the medical industry and watering down the badly needed National Health Insurance {NHI}. We continued the fight for NHI, especially after 170 doctors, who were employed in the NHI program were released this year because of retrenchments. These retrenchments worried us because they showed us that the NHI was being sabotaged by the department of health. We had also seen the department diverting funds that were allocated to the 11 NHI pilot sites away from the project and spending them on routine departmental projects.

We went to Nedlac and applied for Section 77 Notices against State Capture and Corruption, Job Losses, especially in the Energy Sector. We pushed back against what we considered to be government’s reckless introduction of Renewable Energy.

We also took head on the issue of State Capture, Corruption and Job Losses. This culminated in the federation going on a one day strike on the 27th of September 2017 with more than 230 000 workers across nine cities of this country taking to the streets to say no to corruption, state capture and job losses.

The successful strike was a reminder of the amount of work and the progress that we have made in rebuilding the federation over the last two years. We are proud of the resilience that has been showcased by this giant workers organisation despite so many attempts to liquidate it.

It was the federation that also worked with other labour unions to stop the National Treasury from raiding the PIC and the UIF to bailout the captured and looted SOE’s. We are still going to intensify the fight to reclaim the workers retirement savings, especially after the Steinhoff Corruption scandal that wiped out billions of rands from those retirement funds, including the PIC.

It was COSATU that started to raise alarms against Steinhoff as a company whose actions were not good for the economy and the workers. Last year in August the COSATU CEC expressed its deep concern that Steinhoff Group was planning to buy Shoprite and its offshore expansion. This was Steinhoff had acquired the JD Group and subsequently slashed thousands of jobs and reduced its size and operations to increase profits and better returns for investors, without thinking about the workers.

During the delisting of J D Group from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, they privatised their financial affairs and offered below inflation salary adjustments. They did this while at the same time spending over R11 billion buying a UK shop Poundland.

We never forgot about the Lily Mine worker’s cause and we ultimately forced the department of Minerals to compensate the families of the trapped miners and those who were injured at the Lily Mine. We are now waiting for the Commission of Enquiry that is investigating the cause of the accident to bring us the truth and nothing but the truth about the accident. We also are still busy pushing to ensure that the bodies of workers, who are still trapped, are recovered so that families can have proper closure on the loss of their loved ones.

We still are not happy with the failure of government to deal with the killings in the mining sector. These killings are taking away bread winners from their families and depriving families of their livelihoods.

This year we managed to defeat the fear mongering, untruths and outright propaganda by a well funded lobby group that did everything to mislead the people, and blackmail government into abandoning the idea of a minimum wage. The NMW is a product of an arduous and ongoing struggle for a living wage by workers and their federation COSATU, since the 1980’s. The struggle for a Living Wage will be a long and difficult one, which will include the struggle for affordable basic services, transport and food, and decent wages and working conditions and will only be achieved through the collective power of workers.

While the figure of R20 is inadequate, it will give workers building blocks to put together a solid foundation towards a living wage and will have a material impact on improving the wages of half of South African workers, or 6 million of our brutally exploited workers.

Politically, we also attended the ANC Policy Conference that grappled with some difficult policy questions but most of all was forced to acknowledge that the lack of implementation remains the biggest challenge for the ANC led government.

This was followed by the SACP 14th National Congress that resolved to push ahead with the resolution for the SACP to contest State Power. This matter will be one of the issues for discussion in our upcoming 13th National Congress next year.

Our support and campaign for President Cyril Ramaphosa to become the President of the ANC succeeded and was a reminder that COSATU remains a powerful player in the socio-economic life and political life of this country.

We have also seen our President Cde Sidumo Dlamini re-elected to the NEC of the ANC and Cde Zingiswa Losi joining him as the new member of the ANC NEC. COSATU Second Deputy President Zingiswa Losi was also elected as the first Woman President of Southern African Trade Unions Coordination Council (SATUCC). She joins a number of COSATU leaders, who have been recognised by the international trade union movement and entrusted with the responsibility of leading at an international level

Internationally, we are also continuing to pushback against the bullying tactics of the well funded and well coordinated Zionist Lobby groups that have been trying to browbeat the federation into submission and into silence. The Israeli lobby group under the auspices of the South African Board of Jewish Deputies targeted COSATU and its International Secretary by taking him to court falsely accusing him of anti-Semitism and hate speech. We are fearlessly unwavering in our support for the Palestinian people. To honour the spirit of the founders of this federation we shall continue to fight injustice, wherever it exists, especially in support of the struggle for an independent and free Palestine. Our solidarity with the Palestinian people is unshakeable.

We remain adamant that COSATU must remain a worker controlled federation that is vigilant and which strives to avoid any possibility of being complacent, being bureaucratic and being controlled by technocrats and experts. We are also very clear that COSATU’s influence on society should continue to remain based on its organised power, its capacity to mobilise, its socio - economic programme and policies and its participation in political and social alliances. 

We again salute our affiliates and members who are unwavering in defending our members hard won advances secured since the democratic breakthrough. They continue to be the backbone of the federation and a source of inspiration for the workers in general. We are proud of all our affiliates in how they are contesting and pushing back against white monopoly capital and the judicial and government zigzags that are about protecting the interests of the tiny elite to the detriment of the poor majority

If there is one thing that this year has proved ,it is that in COSATU we have an extraordinarily powerful organisation of workers. Its strengths enable it to honestly and robustly engage with its weaknesses. Many weaker organisations would rather not face up so honestly to their problems. This is the tradition we must defend moving forward.

We wish all our members and every South African an enjoyable holiday, a well-earned break and a happy and successful new yea

Aluta Continua!

An injury to one is an injury to all!


Issued by COSATU, 22 December 2017

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

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22 December 2017

The ANCWL wishes all South Africans a happy and safe festive season 

One of the real joys for this festive season is the opportunity for the African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL) leadership collective from branch level to national, to say thanks to all its members, supporters and society in general and wish them wonderful holidays and the very best for the new year. 

The year 2017, was not an easy year but through the unwavering support received from all corners of the country and beyond, the ANCWL leadership collective is still standing strong and unshaken. You as members and supporters of ANCWL and also as society in general you encouraged the leadership collective to appreciate that is only those who are not fearless to be in the frontline and those who are uncompromising in the fight against patriarchy and male chauvinism that will bear the scars. ANCWL might have lost some battles in 2017 but not the war. With you on our side, ANCWL is guaranteed a reliable ally that will always be available in the struggle for gender oppression free society in South Africa. South Africa must be a non-sexist county in theory and in practice. 

The ANCWL plead with all the faith based communities celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ to pray for unity, peace and prosperity in our land during their prayers. We also appeal to all South Africans to refrain from alcohol and substance abuses which threatens the safety and welfare of our communities in particular the safety and welfare of women and children. 

Best wishes for a wonderful festive season and a very happy new year. May joy, peace, happiness and hope overcome all your sadness and fears. May the new year brings prosperity in your lives. 

Have happy and safe festive season!!!

Statement issued by Meokgo Matuba, ANCWL Secretary General, 22 December 2017