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Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 01:32:02 -0500 (CDT)
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: South Africa: COSATU Special Congress Statement
Article: 73385
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.7410.19990821121659@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** labr.global: 289.0 **/
** Topic: Press Statement: COSATU Special Congress **
** Written 1:10 PM Aug 18, 1999 by cospress@lists.sn.apc.org in cdp:labr.global **
Press Statement: COSATU Special Congress

COSATU Special Congress Statement

Press Statement
18 August 1999

COSATU's 1999 Special Congress got off to a successful start this morning as 2 400 chanting, singing delegates filled the main hall at Gallagher Estate, Midrand. The opening address of Acting President, Peter Malepe, described the congress as taking place at "a very challenging period for workers and the working class."

Malepe outlined the challenges facing the working class: the ongoing unemployment crisis and the continued retrenchment of workers, repeated calls from business for a "flexible" labour market, and the current dispute between the government and COSATU's public service unions over salary increases and the struggle for a living wage.

Citing examples of the appalling wage gap, Malepe said "Just the other day, [an] SAB fat cat had to disclose in London that he earns a ridiculous R 7 million a year, while the company∆s lowest paid worker gets slightly above R 3 000 per month."

COSATU needed to implement recommendations of the September Commission (available on the COSATU web site at http://www.cosatu.org.za/congress/septcomm.htm), to fight retrenchments, to increase its capacity to engage in policy formulation, to improve service to members, as well as to improve the capacity of every leader, official, Shopsteward and every member to advance the federation's objectives efficiently.

These and other points form part of a Campaign - dubbed "The Consolidation of COSATU to meet challenges of the new millennium" - being launched at the congress.

Said Malepe: "As we [bid farewell] to this century, every organisation should be asking the question: Can we survive the new millennium? What is it that we must do to reposition ourselves to meet the challenges of the next century, in a context of a continually changing and complex environment of globalisation and the era of technology?".

President Thabo Mbeki, who is currently in Mozambique, was represented by Defence Minister, Terror Lekota and other senior ANC leaders. Lekota, who spoke on Mbeki's behalf, commended COSATU's cadres for their role in the ANC's June electoral victory.

He reaffirmed the centrality of the alliance, cautioning those that claim that the Tripartite Alliance was about to fold. He said: "Differences in the alliance are not new. From its inception, the alliance has had different views on many questions.

"However, I must caution. Only those consensus positions that have been taken in the alliance must be taken to the public. Not to do so amounts to ill discipline."

Malepe, Lekota and other speakers' remarks will form part of the congress discussions, which begin in earnest tomorrow. Other speakers include SACP's General Secretary Blade Nzimande, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, (both of who speak tomorrow) and Nigerian Labour Congress President, Adams Oshiomhole, billed to speak on Friday.

Tomorrow's job losses discussion will be followed by a 20-minute cheque hand over ceremony to the Labour Job Creation Trust, which was launched by COSATU, NACTU and FEDUSA in February this year. Workers throughout the country are making contributions of a day's wage to the trust. A few businesses have also made contributions to the trust. So far, the trust's coffers stand at more than R20 million.

The chairperson of the National Union of Mineworkers from Beatrix mine, Xolile Sigila, will hand over a cheque for R 220 000 to the trust, donated by the Beatrix miners out of their hard-earned wages. Correctional Services commissioner, Khulekani Sithole will likewise hand over a cheque for R 250 000 to the trust.

Malepe thanked all those workers who have dug deep into their pockets to contribute to the trust, saying they have sent an important message of solidarity to the unemployed. "The important step you have taken in donating your day's wages sharply contradicts the false assertions that your interests merely lie in the employed," he added.

The full text of Peter Malepe's speech will be available on the COSATU web site at http://www.cosatu.org.za/speeches/1999/pm990818.htm.

Further information relating to the 1999 Special Congress is available on the congress web page at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/congress/cong99/.

Issued by Mukoni Ratshitanga COSATU Spokesperson

Charley Lewis

Head of Department
COSATU Information Technology Unit

E-mail: charley@cosatu.org.za

Tel: 27 + 11 + 339-4911
fax: 27 + 11 + 339-2281
Snail-mail: Box 1019
South Africa


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