South Africa: Cosatu Statement On the ANC Election Manifesto
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) took part in the process to draw up the ANC's election manifesto launched on 11th January 2014 and raised a basket of issues, some of which were adopted, others not. Overall however the federation welcomes the manifesto, which takes on board many of the demands of the working class.
COSATU believes that this elections manifesto builds on the progress made in the past 20 years and introduces key commitments which we agree with. In particular we welcome that in the manifesto the ANC undertakes to ensure that the government will:
1.Procure at least 75% of its goods locally.
2.Strengthens the enforcement of the Employment Equity Act which requires that employers report unequal incomes in all wage levels and submit plans to reduce inequalities.
3.Ensure that collective bargaining takes place and is strengthened in all sectors of the economy.
4.Investigate the modalities of a national minimum wage, which builds on the decisions reached at the Alliance Summit, where there was an in-principle agreement on the national minimum wage..
5.Make far-reaching reforms in the financial sector.
6.Speed up the roll-out of our massive economic and social infrastructure programme, especially in energy, public transport, ICT and water supply, to unlock economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life of our people.
7.Enforce legislation to eliminate abusive work practises in atypical work and labour broking and improve the capacity of the Department of Labour to enforce this and all other labour laws. COSATU will work with government to ensure compliance with these laws and will continue to campaign for the total banning of labour brokers
We strongly believe that such progressive interventions will improve the lives of many people and build a prosperous and inclusive economy and, most importantly, decrease the unemployment rate.
On job creation, decent work and sustainable livelihoods for inclusive growth
The ANC has identified job creation as one of its five priorities for the next five years and commits itself to introducing measures to reduce the unemployment rate. COSATU believes that job creation must go hand in glove with decent work and thus welcomes the ANC's commitment to ensure that bargaining councils are used as vehicles to promote greater equity and that collective bargaining takes place in all sectors of the economy.
We also welcome the ANC's insistence on industrialization as a key job creation driver and building the capacity of the manufacturing sectors. We believe that 20 years into our democracy the South African economy must not still be based mainly on the export of raw materials and that only way to change this is through adding value to those materials by developing manufacturing industry and beneficiating our natural resources. The ANC through its manifesto concurs with this assertion and undertakes to:
• Invest in infrastructure that can unlock the vast mineral wealth of the country, create jobs and support the local benefication of mineral deposits for the benefit of South Africans.
• Ensure increased exports -particularly manufactured and value-added exports.
We agree with the ANC that these decisive interventions will require stronger articulation between macro- and micro-economic policies biased towards more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods, and reducing inequality. COSATU welcomes the ANC's acknowledgement that the NDP is a living document, which will be adapted to meet changing conditions and incorporate key ‘learnings'. COSATU agrees that there is a need, where appropriate, for a redrafting of these economic and labour policy sections of the NDP which place far too much reliance on the capitalist free market to create jobs. The Alliance Summit set up a task team to engage on these issues and COSATU is fully participating in this work.
We also welcome the ANC's commitment to reduce the high rate of youth unemployment by introducing work placement programmes for inexperienced FET and University graduates and the commitment to expand the intake of students for post-school education which will target those between 18 - 23 years.
However, we strongly believe that any form of youth wage incentives will further cement the exploitation of young workers and will lead to the displacement of older workers. Despite the assurance that the ANC has given us that workers will be protected against displacement, we believe that no employer would admit the real reason for dismissing an employee and would possibly make allegations of misconduct or poor performance. The current act contains no measures to prevent this kind of abuse and therefore we welcome the proposal for new regulations to protect unsubsidised workers and welcome the commitment to review the Act in two years.
For these reasons we welcome the commitment to consult all relevant stakeholders on the implementation of such incentives. COSATU will actively participate in these processes and will make a valuable contribution in such.
On Rural Development, land reform and food security
We welcome the ANC's commitment to increase investment in agricultural infrastructure in support of small-holder farmer development, prioritising former homeland communal areas and the commitment to strengthen support for co-operatives in marketing and supply activities to enable small scale producers to enter formal value chains and take advantage of economies of scale.
COSATU welcomes the acknowledgement that the willing buyer/willing seller principle has no worked and will be replaced by the principle of just so equitable compensation in line with Section 25 of the Constitution. The federation fully supports the ANC's stance on land redistribution and restitution but insists however such must be linked to agrarian reform.
We also believe that the ANC should have used this manifesto to address insecurities of farm workers and their families who live on their employer's land. The loss of a job often means the loss of a home as these workers reside where they work. That is why COSATU backs the call for a review of the following pieces of legislation, which government passed to try to give security of tenure to labour tenants and farm workers:
• Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act 3 of 1996,
• Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 (ESTA) and
• Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998.
We welcome the ANC's commitment to the progressive realisation of free education at all levels. A lot has been done in the past 20 years to realize this vision. Million of working class children have been beneficiaries of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, government bursaries and other government funding schemes.
We agree with the ANC that the higher education system must be expanded and its capacity improved and welcome the pledge to construct two new universities. The commitment to the administrative capacity of our FETs resonates well with our calls in the previous years.
We also support the commitment to introduce two years of compulsory pre-school education and the integration of Grade R educators into the post and remuneration structure.
COSATU congratulates the Matric Class of 2013 on their exceptionally good results, contrary to the demagogic propaganda of the DA.
We fully support the commitment to reform the public health care system in order to significantly reduce the cost of health care and the introduction of patient-centred approach in the delivery of health services by aggressively reducing the time patients have to wait to receive services and medication.
COSATU supports the urgent implementation of the National Health Insurance system to bring the quality of public health care up to the same and better standard as in the private sector. COSATU will develop mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the NHI in a manner that ensures that no one dies because they cannot access health care
On public transport
The federation welcomes the bold plans to extend and improve public transport, so that we have an affordable, safe and reliable public transport system, but deeply regrets that there is no pledge to scrap e-tolls, which are a grossly unfair and inefficient way of forcing people to pay for what should be a basic public service and we continue to engage with our Alliance partners and the campaign to end e-tolls.
On fighting corruption and crime
We support the commitment to create a corruption and crime free society. We have always argued that corruption is a disease that paralyses our economy. The loss of huge sums of money has devastating impact on the country's economy. It means that billions of rands which could and should have been spent on improving our healthcare and education systems, promoting economic growth and creating jobs and providing basic services to our poorest communities is being squandered by corrupt individuals.
We particularly back the commitment to restrict elected public representatives and public servants at all levels from doing business with the state and insist that this must be rigorously enforced without fear or favour. We welcome the ANC's firm commitment to discipline any of its members who are found guilty of corruption and to force them to resign from their position.
We support the ANC stance on bid-rigging and price-fixing by construction cartels that are hell-bent on milking the state off resources that should be used to better the lives of the poor.
We are now more than ever convinced that only the ANC is capable of improving the lives of workers and the poor. This elections manifesto is a true reflection of the aspirations of millions of South Africans who choose to be part of the solution by renewing the mandate of the ANC.
We call on our affiliates to implement our Congress resolutions to work for an ANC victory and pledge to work tirelessly, walking the length and breadth of this country, in order to persuade all our members to vote for the ANC and ensure a decisive victory.
Vusumuzi Bhengu (Shop Steward Editor)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Streets
P.O. Box 1019
Tel: + 27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1340
Fax: +27 11 339-6940
Mobile: +27 71 313 4870
Facebook: Vusumuzi Martin Bhengu