/** labr.global: 312.0 **/
** Topic: S.A. COSATU Statement On Privatization **
** Written 3:55 PM Sep 20, 1996 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **
From: Institute for Global Communications <email@example.com>
Subject: S.A. COSATU Statement On Privatization
The COSATU Central Executive Committee met in its second ordinary session from 12 - 13 September 1996. The meeting reviewed the work of the federation since the last meeting which was held in March 1996. A wide range of issues were discussed including major policy and legisla tive development. Among the areas debated and resolved taking into account our policies, those of the alliance and the current situation at a political, organisational and socio-economic level were the following:
1.1 Macro-Economic Framework
The Federation remains opposed to the basic thrust of the government's macro-economic framework (Gear which was released in June this year. We are concerned at the impact that a drastic cut in the fiscus can do to programmes such as health, education, social benefits, housing, and delivery by the state. This does not in any way suggest opposition to debt management, but to the government's chosen route.
The same would apply to other areas such as the so-called "labour market flexibility" and acceleration of removal of trade tariffs. We remain of the view that the South African labour market is more flexible as was shown by Guy Standing's ILO report. Any attempt at wholesale exemption of small and medium enterprises from collective bargaining would be resisted. Again this does not imply that we are insensitive to the plight of small business and the need for development. We are however opposed to them becoming prosperous at the expense of exploitation of workers and denial of worker rights.
The Executive resolved that despite our positions, we should continue our interaction with the government and our allies on this matter. Our approach will be to concentrate on targeted strategic areas that are of importance and concern to the working class. These will relate to Trade and Industrial policy, labour market, social wage, public housing, public health and public transport among others. We will pursue and continue to popularise our positions on the need for the establishment of a housing parastatal, national health system which moves away from a privately owned medical aid to state owned where the majority can benefit.
Furthermore, we will continue to develop policies for discussion in the alliance and to guide our engagement with the legislature.
1.2 Restructuring of state assets
The CEC discussed this matter guided by our current policies, negotiations in the NFA and the Discussion Document which was earlier circulated to our structures.
The meeting reiterated its opposition to wholesale privatisation of state assets since this is usually driven by greed, the need to push the state out of production and to subject delivery of certain basic services as outlined in the RDP to the laws of profit. We acknowledge that the RDP envisages a role for the private sector. But equally it envisages the role of the state in production. We therefore believe that the debate cannot be one sided. In other words it should consider all forms of ownership - nationalisation, privatisation where necessary, joint venture, opening of new entities and partnership between the state and private sector (depending on the situation.
In this regard it was agreed that:
- There may be state assets which should never have belonged to the state sector in the first place, whose retention does not benefit the majority of people or helps perpetuate the apartheid divide. These would need to be identified and sold.
- Others may require the involvement of private sector capital (in a limited form, based on the need for more capital, new technology, enhance delivery etc. Where there is a compelling case for such an approach, the Federation is willing to consider them. In such situation, the state should remain the majority shareholder rather than withdraw from such a sector.
- We are of the view that in pursuit of the need to involve the state in production, new enterprises and sectors need to be established. An example would be in housing and health, where the current system is failing.
- Furthermore, as envisaged in COSATU'S 1992 Economic Policy Conference and the RDP, where the balance of evidence point to the need for strategic nationalisation, there must be political willingness to follow this route.
In this way, the debate shall focus on the role of the state in the productive sector rather than its withdrawal. The CEC also identified sectors which should be in the state sector. These are post office and telecommunication, electricity, public transport, housing, health, water , state forests, municipal services, education and roads.
It was agreed that all affiliates should participate in the formulation of alternatives based on the above. The Federation will also ensure that resources that come through the sale of assets, are redeployed for infrastructure or new assets. This will ensure expansion of infrastructure, service delivery and job creation.
We will continue to fight for employment security, training and redeployment of workers, implementation of affirmative action and respect for labour standards and worker rights. To this end, the EXCO have been mandated to approve positions emerging from sectoral teams. This will constitute our negotiating positions with the government.
The above positions will be conveyed to our membership, society and our allies. This will ensure the broadest possible mobilisation behind these positions.
1.3 Employment Standards Bill
The CEC received a report on the ongoing negotiations between Labour, Business and Government. COSATU seeks to improve the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. In COSATU's view the statute must establish a human floor of rights in the workplace which should be wide in its coverage. This floor of rights should be capable of being improved through collective bargaining processes.
COSATU is in dispute with both the government and business on the following key strategic areas:-
COSATU is opposed to the model of variations contained in the Bill in that it will have unintended consequences of permitting an erosion of basic standards under the guise of flexibility.
COSATU seeks to permit parties to negotiate the reconfiguration of the rights in each section, provided that the package which they agree on is more favourable than the provisions of the Act.
1.3.2 Hours of work
The CEC rejected the model in the Bill which merely encourages the parties to reach the goal of 40 hours working week.
COSATU agreed that there should be a gradual reduction of hours in five years. However COSATU seeks a definite achievable 40 hours working week without loss of pay. Parties should be allowed to agree on a schedule of the reduction of working hours in the next five years.
1.3.3 Maternity leave and other leave
COSATU must continue to fight for a six months paid maternity leave.
The mechanism of payment should be a maternity leave fund possibly using the administrative capacity of the UIF. A levy should be introduced to all employers to pay for the cost of maternity leave.
The CEC gave negotiators a flexible mandate on mechanism of payment of maternity leave.
The CEC further gave a flexible mandate on paternity, family responsibility and compassionate leave.
1.3.4 Other important areas
We are more comfortable with the current provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act on some areas and seek to improve provisions of the issues listed below.
- a Sunday Work
- b The night shift premium and facility
- c Monitoring and enforcement mechanisms
- d Operation and terms of the Employment Standards Commission
- e Erosion of the role of trade unions
- f The age threshold for child-labour and the clear regulation of exemptions
1.4 COSATU RDP Contributions
COSATU as an organisation which was involved in the drafting of the RDP sees it necessary for its members to contribute to the success of the plan. This serves to ensure that we build the economy of this country. We acknowledge that the ANC led government inherited enormous problems. Therefore it is important for the workers to contribute to the betterment of our peoples' lives. One of the mechanisms to do so will be to contribute to things like housing, electricity and water.
The CEC believes that the credibility of the RDP will be measured against the government's performance in implementing it. We also believe that its implementation is not only the burden of the government, labour has a role to play.
The CEC took a decision that all COSATU affiliates should contribute to the success of the RDP and mandated the next COSATU Executive Committee Meeting ( which will take place in November 1996 to identify a (symbolic day whereby all COSATU affiliates will encourage their members to work as a way of contributing to the implementation of the RDP.
Day of Action
On this day all the COSATU affiliates will contribute according to the following agreements in their specific unions
NUMSA members have identified the 24th of September 1996 as their day of action. Workers will go to work as usual and contribute the days salary to the RDP Fund that will be set up by the union. The same will be required of the company's proceeds.
(Please note : that the date for the National Day of Action has not yet been selected. NUMSA has taken a pro- active decision and identified the above date for its members. But they will also be part of the National day to be identified
NEHAWU regions and branches will contribute to a fund. Each region or branch will identify its own needs and the money from the fund will be used on those needs. 2. Will be engaged in health projects. A pilot project has already been started in Thembisa where the mayor Mr Isaac Mahlangu is also participating.
Workers from the productive sector of the industry took a decision to contribute with their labour by producing bricks and cement out of the material that will be contributed by the management.
Will contribute through investing to the RDP housing bond.
Took a decision to concentrate on food security for the people who find themselves being victims of disasters like draught.
The focus will be on housing. The project will be decentralised.
T & GWU
Each member will contribute R1.00 to the fund. They are busy negotiating with the employers to ask them to contribute to the plan.
The rest of the COSATU affiliates are still deliberating on the matter. In principle they have agreed and are waiting eagerly for the National Day of Action.
The meeting discussed the need to strengthen the alliance and to ensure that it remains relevant in the current political and socio- economic situation. The CEC reiterated its position that the alliance is the only force capable of guiding the transformation process. The Federation need to identify key issues that impact or could accelerate transformation for discussion in the alliance.
The CEC called on its affiliates and its structures to ensure that our structures and those of the alliance partners and the MDM are strengthened. This should be accompanied by the need to build our capacity to develop policy and influence various legislatures. In this regard the Federation have agreed on the need to develop a programme for implementation by the alliance. This does not replace the RDP, but gives content to our approach to transformation.
It was further resolved that it is in our interest to ensure that the current democratisation and transformation process does not fail. In this regard, we cannot be bystanders to the current proceds. We have a duty to influence and defend it.
The COSATU Secretariat have been charged with the responsibility to draft a discussion document which will articulate such a programme and help shape debate in COSATU leading to the 6th National Congress.
The CEC took note of the decision of the S.A. Domestic Workers Union to dissolve itself. Affiliates were asked to debate the request to integrate domestic workers into one of the affiliates.
3.2 COSATU National Congress
The CEC endorsed the dates of the next tri-annual COSATU National Congress as 16- 19 September 1997. A time table for submission and discussion of resolutions was agreed. This include a discussion of other business to be dealt with in the congress including leadership.
4. OLYMPIC BID
The CEC gave a conditional support to the Cape Town Olympic Bid for 2004. COSATU shall develop a charter of minimum demands which should be incorporated into the bid. These include such areas as creation of jobs and infrastructure development. COSATU shall in particular co-operate with the committees established by other groups.Nowetu Mpati
Tel: + 27 + 11 + 339-4911
Fax: + 27 + 11 + 339-2281