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COSATU protests to start on Monday

6 March 2000

Johannesburg South Africa's largest trade union - the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)- is set to begin its second round of protest action against job losses on Monday.

The Eastern Cape region will kickstart the provincial mass action.

The second round of mass action will see each of the eight Cosatu regions organise week-long demonstrations and provincial strikes.

Cosatu's mass action campaign against job losses started on Monday Jan 31 with various unions affiliated to the federation organising workplace protests and demonstrations.

The campaign should culminate in a national strike on May 10 - that is if government and organised business do not address the labour and economic concerns raised by the union.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said that four of the original seven concerns raised as reasons for the national strike had not been addressed.

He specifically mentioned Cosatu's demand for an amendment to section 189 of the Labor Relations Act (LRA). He said Cosatu wants the section to be amended to make it compulsory for employers to negotiate retrenchments.

Currently the section only provides for employers to consult workers in cases there will be retrenchments.

Cosatu is also demanding that the Insolvency Act be amended to make workers primary creditors when an employer company is liquidated.

Cosatu said government should also show more commitment to the National Framework Agreement (NFA). He said that parastatal managers were disregarding the NFA when restructuring government institutions.

The federation also questioned tariff reductions, which, they claim, open local markets to cheap goods at the expense of local jobs.

Cosatu said the government should adhere to the World Trade Organization (WTO) or GATT guidelines.

The union, which represents about 1,8 million workers in all sectors of the economy, argues that more than 500,000 workers have lost their jobs since 1994.

It says that some 170,000 jobs have been lost in the public sector since 1994 through natural attrition and outsourcing of services, while the clothing and textile sectors have shed more than 110000 jobs.

The mining industry shed more than 150,000 jobs between 1991 and 1999, while 100,000 jobs were lost in the building sector and a further 30,000 jobs are under threat.

Earlier this week, Cosatu managed to secure the cooperation of about 40 civil organisations for its campaign.

The organisations include the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO), the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), youth, women, church and disabled organizations.

Cosatu's provincial program for mass action is as follows: Eastern Cape Mar 6-10, Western Cape Mar 13-17, Free State Mar 20-24 and Western Transvaal Mar 29-Apr 1.

The Northern Province region will stage its protest on April 3-8, Gauteng on Apr 10-15, Mpumalanga on Apr 17-22 and Kwazulu-Natal on the week of Apr 24- 29. (6.45 rand-US %$1)

source: gopher://gopher.anc.org.za/00/anc/newsbrief/2000/news0306

processed Mon 6 Mar 2000 10:30 SAST.

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