Please accept revolutionary greetings from COSATU House, the red house which is also a house to the South African Communist Party, our historical and reliable ally and our reliable political mouth piece
Comrades please allow me to report that the May Central Executive Committee took a decision to support the intervention by the ANC in COSATU. This is intended to preserve the integrity of the unity of workers under COSATU. As a result of accepting this intervention we then also agreed to postpone the Special CEC and to put in abeyance all the issues in the agenda which included on among others the following issues:
1. Facilitated Process
1.1. Report by Charles Nupen and Petrus Mashishi on the unity and cohesion of the Federation.
1.2. Forensic Report by the Sizwe Ntsabula Gobodo Firm of Auditors
1.3. Report by Former COSATU Leaders task team
2. Status of the 2nd Deputy President and that comrade Zingiswa Losi remains the 2nd Deputy President of COSATU as elected in the 11th National Congress.
3. NUMSAlsquos response to COSATU on why it should not be suspended or expelled.
4. President’s report on the request of the Special National Congress
5. Update Report on Litigation against COSATU
6. Update on the Disciplinary processes against the COSATU General Secretary and the Staff member
7. To embark on the process in which the ANC will help to facilitate the process towards achieving the strategic objective of preserving the unity of workers under COSATU. This process will take up to a month.
8. That there is a need for cessation of hostilities, which means all affiliates and all leaders of the federation and members should stop all activities which will militate against the achievement of this strategic objective of preserving the integrity of the unity of workers under COSATU.
Based on the report from the ANC Task Team, the CEC unanimously agreed that:
1. There should be an adherence to COSATU’s founding principles that have provided the glue that has kept COSATU together for the past 29 years of her existence. These principles remain valid today and into the future.
2. The package to be developed by the ANC should address the leadership question, including choosing of leaders, deployment of leaders, personalities in leadership that could compromise unity
3. The package should include addressing governance issues such as disciplinary processes underway or in the future as well as the call for a Special National Congress
4. The CEC recognises that the divisions in COSATU have evolved and have created an atmosphere of factionalism
5. The CEC recognises that at the centre of the divisions are political and ideological differences, including on managing of differences in relation to tactical and strategic issues, which require continuous engagements.
The CEC discussed this at length and took the following decisions:
1. To allow the ANC task team to continue its work including meeting the seven remaining unions that it has not yet met in the period of the coming four weeks. This work is to include holding a two-day discussion with the NOBs to discuss various issues including what emerged in the engagement with affiliated unions.
2. To reaffirm our decision of 8 April CEC that there should be cessation of hostilities until the final report is presented. In addition, and in order to help create the best possible climate for unity and cohesion, we call for a similar undertaking from other formations of the Alliance.
3. We agreed that the ANC task team should finalise its work within the next four weeks.
4. The package to be developed by the ANC Task Team should include taking a collective view on the call for a Special National Congress.
5. To recognise that progress has been registered notwithstanding the breaches on the call for a ceasefire.
6. The call to ceasefire will include the court challenge for a Special National Congress by the eight of COSATU affiliates. As a practical step to avoid unnecessary waste of resources the eight unions involved agree that the proceedings in the High Court application (case number 16232314) will be held in abeyance pending the ANC process agreed in this resolution. That process will continue for a maximum period of six weeks from the date of this resolution, unless otherwise extended and agreed between the parties in writing. If, at the end of that period, the applicants (in the high court case) are not satisfied with the outcome of the ANC process and want to proceed with the application, they will give written notice to COSATU of their intention to proceed, whether on the same or supplemented papers, and COSATU will then have the time periods provided by the court rules to answer the application and the applicants will have an opportunity to reply thereto in the ordinary course.
7. The NOBs will work with SATAWU and NUMSA in relation to the poaching activities in the port of Ngqura. This will include managing the current strike by NUMSA members with a view of ensuring an environment is created to improve relations at all levels. Managing this process should lead to us finding a lasting solution which includes a process of membership hand over in line with our principle of one union one industry. The same approach will be adopted in relation to poaching activities between the NUM and NUMSA. The CEC calls on NUMSA not to implement its resolution to encroach on the scope of SATAWU or NUM. In addition to this, all unions across the Federation are called upon not to embark on activities that will undermine the spirit of this resolution relation to poaching. A failure to get this commitment by 2 June 2014 should lead to the calling of the Special CEC to discuss the way forward.
8. The CEC agreed that whilst this process is unfolding no union should be allowed to speak about these matters in the media, including as unnamed sources. It agreed to observe protocols that respect internal organisational processes of each union.
9. The CEC fully supports the sub-committee of the ANC Task Team constituted by the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC and the COSATU Deputy General Secretary to intervene on all alleged violations to this agreement. In addition the NOBs will, in managing this ceasefire, in line with the provision of the constitution, convene a Special CEC whenever they feel any union is not fully cooperating with the intervention.
10. Finally it was agreed that as part of a political engagement we must have a series of discussions at leadership level, which may include CEC political schools. The final report will be presented at a three days CEC to allow exhausting of all issues.
In addition to this resolution, the CEC decided that a meeting between NUMSA and SATAWU should be convened by the NOBs not later than the 11 June 2014.
As I speak the National office Bearers are already processing these decisions and it includes meeting with NUM, NUMSA and SATAWU.
We are committed to this process for no other reason other than the fact that we value the unity of the federation. As this generation of leaders we want to build an even ger COSATU than the one we took from our predecessors.
We want to build a united, ger and fighting federation and we see this not as a task of one individual but as a task of all of us as a collective and we are calling on the NUM to work with to build and unite all our unions behind their federation.
Comrades we have also just come from an election campaign in which we went all out to mobilise for the victory of the ANC and on the 7th May our people went to the polls and gave an overwhelming victory to our movement, giving the ANC a clear mandate to ensure radical transformation during this phase of our transition.
The task we have now is to define in practical terms the content of that radical change. Already the ANC Lekgotla, government Lekgotla and the State of the Nation address have taken place. In each of these the content of this radical transformation has been defined and translated into government programme.
The question that we should ask is whether as COSATU, working with the SACP, has been able to provide qualitative input in all these processes and whether moving forward we will be able to keep government accountable in line with the manifesto and the Freedom Charter.
I want to argue that we should not allow the process of the signing of ministers’ performance agreements to proceed without ensuring that such agreements remain in line with the ANC policies adopted in Polokwane and further endorsed in Mangaung and later translated into the Manifesto.
We consistently make a call to take forward the resolutions of the last Alliance Summit which on amongst others said that the Alliance should be part of policy implementation, and this include addressing the genuine concerns raised by COSATU and the SACP on some aspects of the NDP in particular the economic chapter. It also includes developing a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to ensure that we keep track of progress and keep deployees accountable. This will help avoid finding mistakes when it is too late to correct them.
This also means that as COSATU we will have to pull back and ask ourselves about whether the methods we have used to put pressure on making the alliance to work have produced any results. It must be emphasised that the task we have is not question whether we need the alliance or not or to review the objective of making the alliance to function maximally but the task is to review the methods we have applied to achieve the objective of making the alliance to work.
Part of this will include asking whether there is anything which the Alliance can deliver without any struggle. Put differently is whether we see the Alliance as a chicken which must hatch eggs in the form of our demands which we expect government to deliver on or we see the Alliance as an instrument of struggle whose effectiveness is determined by the strength of its partners.
For an example can the Alliance as the instrument of struggle be effective if COSATU or the SACP or the ANC is weak.
So when we go to the public and shout that the Alliance is non-functional, what do we mean? I want to argue that when we say so we are also at the same time saying COSATU, or the SACP or the ANC are non functional. When the 1969 strategy and tactics referred to us as the fighting alliance what type of organisations was it referring to?
Comrades until we honestly look at ourselves and do an honest self introspection we will continue to invest a lot of resources and energy but receive less returns in practice.
I want to challenge this meeting to have some form of a discussion about the paradigm shift we require in how we have been conducting our engagements and the struggle in general.
Comrades this is an exercise we should undertake because we have a responsibility to be part of the solution to the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality confronting the working class
We cannot ignore that there have been developments in the platinum sector where we saw mine workers engaging in one of the longest strikes, based on a demand for a R 12 500. We now know that an agreement has been signed.
It is important to analyse how this particular strike proceeded and how it was concluded and to draw lessons on the best things we can take and use and the wrong thing we should do as NUM.
As we do so we will need to be careful not to condemn workers and put them in the same place with those we do not trust. Mine workers must be made to understand that NUM is their home. NUM does not only fight for workers to get an increase in wages only in monetary terms but it also fights to secure lasting social benefits.
The NUM must communicate this message not against other unions in the sector but to the workers. My view is that the current moment presents an opportunity for the NUM to regain the strategic initiative to your side in the platinum belt.
Every day it is becoming clear that it is only the NUM that can place and win demands which will results in qualitative aances in the mining sector as a whole. But the NUM will need to be more aggressive and yet systematic in this task and execute it based on a sustainable plan.
Comrades the conditions of poverty, inequality, unemployment and helplessness continue to deepen around the world. Unfortunately it is hitting hard on the working class in general and on the woman and children in particular.
These conditions are not imposed by some natural force but are as a result of inhumane and uncaring economic and social policies which are predicated on the calculus of imposing austerity measures for the people and maximising profits for bosses.
The recently released June report by the International Labour Organization provides details of the impact of global austerity. Amongst other things the report raised the following:
The report found that more than 7% of the world’s population lack adequate income, healthcare, old-age pensions and other social protections, and that Governments around the world have and continue to slash the remaining social safety net even as unemployment and poverty grows as a result of the global economic crisis.
The World Social Protection Report 201415 reviews several categories including protections for children, unemployed and injured workers, pregnant women and new mothers, and workers of pensionable age. It uses as its baseline the minimum social protection floors recommended by the ILO in 2012 and endorsed chiefly as ceremonial ldquohuman rightsrdquo by the UN, the G-20 and various employer and union organizations in 185 countries.
Part of its findings , the report reveals that about 18,000 children die every day, mainly from preventable causes bound up with the lack of funding for nutrition, health, education, care services and protections against child labour.
It says that of the nearly 202 million workers unemployed around the world, only 12 percent are receiving jobless benefits. It says that nearly half (48%) of all people over pensionable age do not receive a pension. For many of those who do, pension levels are not adequate.
Recent disasters at a Bangladeshi textile factory and a Turkish coal mine highlighted the devastating impact of industrial accidents on workers and their families only 33.9% of the global labour force is covered by mandatory social insurance for workplace injury.
Only 28% of women in employment worldwide have maternity cash benefits, which provide some income security during the final stages of pregnancy and after childbirth, forcing many women to return to work prematurely.
Some 39% of the world’s population lack healthcare coverage, a figure that rises to more than 90% of the population in low-income countries. As a result, about 40% of all global health expenditure is shouldered directly by the sick.
All this is as a result of the shrinking of public spending. The report shows that this decrease in public spending in 106 out of the 181 countries was the result of the IMF’s call for ldquostructural reforms in public financerdquo and pension and health care overhauls.
The report notes the pitiful percentage of economic resources allocated by capitalist governments for social protections. On average, governments allocate only 0.4% of GDP to child and family benefits, ranging from 2.2% in Western Europe to 0.2% in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The United States spends just 0.699% of its GDP on child and family benefits. By contrast the US devotes 4.2% of economic output to military spending.
With energy and food prices hitting record highs, 100 governments in 78 developing and 22 high-income countries are planning to cut subsidies, the ILO notes, with especially severe impact anticipated in the Middle East and North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
Some 86 countries are changing pension systems by tightening eligibility conditions, raising retirement ages so that people have to work longer to receive a full benefit, or eliminating minimum pension guarantees for the most vulnerable sections of workers.
Summing up the conditions of pensioners internationally, the ILO report says, ldquothe majority of the world’s older women and men have no income security, have no right to retire and have to continue working as long as they canmdashoften badly paid and in precarious conditions. Only 42% of people of working age today can expect to receive social security pensions in the future, and effective coverage is even lower.rdquo
The report concludes with the warning that the provision of a safety net is ldquoa social and political necessityrdquo and that a ldquothere can be no inclusive and cohesive society where the poor and rich drift further and further apart.rdquo
With all our differences and petty fights, this must be a reminder that as we continue to fight in our silly little battles our class enemy continues to consolidate its gains and building more policy fronts to protect it.
The workers we lead do not read about this from the newspapers or in books they experience it in practice. That is why some of them are even lured into demanding that employers should pay them their death benefits. It is all out of desperation. The working people throughout the world are looking for a way out.
The question is whether we have answers on how to achieve a breakthrough from these challenges.
Do we have organisations which have the capacity to rise to the challenges of answering to the question how our people can achieve a breakthrough to the challenges they are confronting.
Writing from Robben Island, in his book ldquolearning from Robben Islandrdquo comrade Govan Mbeki who was affectionately known as Oom Gov, in answering the question this question regarding the capacity of the organisation to respond to the challenges of the day, he begins by reminding all of us that if we have to grapple with concrete socio-economic problems – problems of oppression and exploitation of man by man we have to adopt a more realistic approach to our problems. Oppression and exploitation are man-made by minority interests to the disaantage of majority interests. What then must the oppressed and exploited majority do to turn things in their favour?
He continues and he says our starting point is to direct our attention and efforts to the source of our strength by saying: ldquoo to the masses of the oppressed and exploited peoples of our land. Work among them work with them to prepare the way for a take-over of power.rdquo Expressed briefly this is to say: ldquoo. Organiserdquo.
ldquoExperience has taught, however, that a lot more requires to be known about organising if the product of our efforts and activities, i.e. organisation, is to be effective. And if the oppressed and exploited are to achieve their end, viz to take over power, they must build effective organisational machinery. And to have such organisational machinery there is no room for haphazard and half-hearted measures. The task has to be tackled seriously and systematically ldquo
Comrades the fact of the matter, as comrade Oom Gov reminded us, is that organisations exist to answer to a question ldquohow?rdquo. It is the ability and the extent to which an organisation is able to crystallise, break the problem into its component parts and to patiently articulate its complete manifestations to the people but does not only end with that and continues to endure the pain to provide practical expression to the question ldquohow?rdquo.
It is this ability to answer to a question ldquohow?rdquo which determines the organisation’s ability to remain relevant and to attract as many people as possible into its ranks who see it as providing practical solutions to their real and practical challenges.
Therefore comrades, COSATU’s and NUM’s biggest task today is to sit back and ask ourselves a question: does our organisation have the capacity to answer convincingly the question of how to tackle the challenges of the day. Do our answers inspire the masses to rally behind as we fold our arms to confront the real enemy?
We need to reflect on whether we have been able to capture the imagination of our members and the working people in general and mobilise them behind a uniting popular programme to address their immediate needs.
I know that in 2013 we went to Rustenburg and adopted a five pillar programme to support the NUM. This included developing an effective Workplace Programme, developing a Community Programme, Clarifying the Role of the Alliance in supporting the NUM, having targeted mobilisation and addressing security issues affecting workers. The reality is that we have not implemented this programme as a united force instead we did so as different groups.
Sometimes, we act as if we do not realise that throughout our history we have been successful only because we acted as a united force. Today we think that we are powerful as individuals. Comrades no revolution was ever aanced by an individual person or a single organisation, never!
It is wrong to elevate individual strength. If there is one reason why the NUM has remained a powerful force, it is because of your ability to elevate unity above everything else, your ability to use your numbers not against the liberation forces, not against the federation but to maximise the unity of the people’s camp.
It is for this reason that we want to urge this meeting today to have a discussion about how to pay solidarity to the NUMSA members who have taken to the streets against the employers.
In that process of pledging solidarity to NUMSA we elevate the unity of the federation above everything else. Members want to see unity between their unions and as leaders you need to consciously do things which will promote unity.
Workers want to see a united COSATU .The primacy of the unity of the federation cannot be replaced by any other thing it is actually at the core of our existence as a trade union movement.
The most immediate task facing us is to build a g and united organisation and there is no short cut but to consistently going to the workers and engaging them through campaigns and political education programmes. This task cannot be outsourced, it needs all of us directly and if we fail our organisations will be stolen or be redirected for another agenda which is not ours.
Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Streets
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Fax: +27 11 339-6940
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456
Source : Congress of South African Trade Unions