ANC is taking our loyalty for granted – COSATU

Federation is tired of govt's failures and broken promises, and arrogance of some of the party's leaders

The ANC and its leadership should stop treating the support of the workers with disdain and taking the loyalty of the federation for granted

3 November 2016  

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is concerned that its ally the African National Congress is starting to treat the support of the workers with disdain and takes the loyalty of the federation COSATU for granted. The federation is a tried and tested ally of the ANC, and we have been very supportive of the ANC and its government because we want it to succeed.  We have also acknowledged the many victories of the workers under an ANC government.

However, COSATU is equally tired of the ANC government’s many failures and broken promises and the condescension and arrogance of some ANC leaders, who dismiss COSATU and workers legitimate demands as bargaining council matters. We are allied to the ANC because; we have always understood it to be committed to the working class issues. The aspirations of the working class have to be reflected in the ANC and its government ,and if it rejects or dishonours those aspirations, it is turning its back on the workers. 

Some of the actions of the ANC government make a mockery of the alliance and the attitude and the arrogance of its leaders at both organizational and government level is downright unacceptable. We are annoyed that some ANC leaders have been attacking COSATU for defending the ANC policies and positions like it happened at the  Parliaments Joint Standing and Select Committee on Finance public hearings on the Medium Term Budget Policy statement. Workers campaigned and voted for the ANC because of its policies and its progressive manifesto and not for charity ;and we expect those policies to be implemented without fail. 

Government promised to release its Comprehensive Social Security Discussion Paper by July 2016 but this date has come and gone with no indication when it will be released.  This is happening while workers are dying of poverty and the latest figures show that less than 6% of South Africans can afford to retire.  We reiterate our call that government honours its commitment to workers and release the Comprehensive Social Security Discussion Paper for engagement at Nedlac by 25 November 2016.

There are also worrying signs that government is capitulating to the medical industry and watering down the badly needed National Health Insurance {NHI}.  Millions of workers are dying from easily curable diseases simply because public health care is under resourced and private health care is unaffordable.  Yet the ANC government is pandering and giving in to the private sector which is solely concerned with milking workers dry.  Again we demand that the ANC intervene to ensure government does not weaken its commitment to a worker friendly and publicly administered NHI Fund.

Government and big business are allowing the national minimum wage discussions at Nedlac to drag on and instead an intense pressure is being placed upon COSATU to accept a national minimum wage far below a living wage.  We want to make it clear that COSATU will not agree to anything less than a living wage irrespective of what business and government want.  We reiterate our demand for a decent legislated national minimum wage that must be resolved by December 2016 and come into effect in 2017.

Government has also been on offensive attacking nurses, teachers, police officers, cleaners and other workers for wanting to earn a decent wage in the public service.  If government wants to reduce the public service wage bill, they must reduce the perks and the salaries of political leadership in the national and provincial cabinets and those of senior managers in all state entities including parastatal managers.  We are tired of government blaming workers for its failures and we warn them to stop deciding on issues that affect them unilaterally without consultation.

We are also calling on government to clean up the mess surrounding its nuclear plans. We demand accountability and transparency and we reiterate our firm rejection of the expansion of nuclear energy.  It is dangerous for the environment and for the health of workers.  We want to see the expansion of renewable energy and for someone to reign in the arrogant and unaccountable Eskom which sees nothing wrong with exploiting workers with massive tariff hikes year after year.

The federation takes its mandate from workers and the workers are very angry that the ANC and its government are abandoning the progressive resolutions of Mangaung and Polokwane ANC Conferences and the manifesto they voted for in 2014.Many workers are feeling frustrated by a lack of coherence among the ANC leadership. They keep giving different positions and changing their decisions. We want to remind the ANC that it owes the workers the manifesto promises and they expect delivery and not arrogance. COSATU will continue to defend and advance the interests of workers and we expect the ANC and its government to listen and stop treating workers with condescension.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 3 November 2016