[Debate] E Cape Cosatu Congress declaration
grinker at mweb.co.za
grinker at mweb.co.za
Thu May 28 09:15:32 BST 2009
EASTERN CAPE COSATU PRIVINCIAL CONGRESS
26-27 May 2009
ORIENT THEATRE, EAST LONDON
Following our successful 2009 Eastern Cape Cosatu Congress, we the delegates of Cosatu, gathered here at Orient Theatre, do hereby make the following declaration:
It is with sadness and disappointment that the federation, 24 years after its establishment and after 15 years of democracy in South Africa, must once again place simple demands such as the following before the state and society in South Africa:
No person shall go hungry!
No person shall be without shelter!
No person shall ever be denied an education!
No person shall ever again die because of inadequate or unavailable healthcare!
No person shall ever live in the fear of crime!
No person shall go without work!
We are deeply concerned that, after all this time, such basic demands have not yet been
met. We are angered that widespread poverty and degradation continue to persist in a liberated South Africa.
1 On the International Situation and African Situation
1.1 While free market fundamentalism – and indeed even capitalism itself - stands seriously discredited around the world, the system will never disappear on its own. That will demand a highly organised push from our side. Even more seriously, the lack of any big ideas among the ruling elites on how to resolve the current crisis is a threat to us all. A wounded beast is always particularly dangerous.
1.2 The obvious lack of direction of almost every political establishment around the world holds serious dangers for working people. As the crisis has deepened, tendencies to protectionism have grown in the large economies. Historically, such measures have often led to trade wars which in turn often became “hot” wars. Organised labour and working class movements must remain particularly vigilant in such circumstances or we could rapidly find ourselves fighting battles on behalf of our ruling classes – battles in which we have no real interest.
1.3 The need to rebuild an independent working class outlook around the world grows all the more urgent for us as national chauvinism begins to grow.
2 Solidarity with oppressed peoples:
2.1 In times of world economic crisis, oppressed people around the world have always been made to pay the price. Countries such as Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Palestine and Somalia have already been easy scapegoats as imperialism attempts to reconstitute itself. As workers, we should fight such moves with all the forces at our command and organise solidarity action here at home to undermine imperialism’s attempts to revitalise itself.
2.2 We pledge our solidarity with oppressed peoples and those under attack in occupied Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma, Western Sahara, Swaziland and Somalia and in all countries affected by imperialist oppression or under threat from the West. We resolve to push ahead with effective worker solidarity action through boycotts, propaganda and whatever other activity may be effective to ensure support for them in this country.
2.3 We reassert the long-held principle of the right of nations to self-determination in the face of western attempts to undermine it. No return to colonialism!
3 The South African Situation
3.1 Growing retrenchments:
3.1.1 Within SA the impact of the world economic crisis has already been felt. We are strongly integrated into the global economy and have been adversely affected by the fall in prices of primary commodities and export products. The mining, automotive, textiles and forestry sectors have been hard hit. Retrenchments will place severe pressure on our social safety nets in the Province.
3.1.2 The services and trade sectors are also heavily affected. Economic growth here has been on the back of debt-driven consumption and a housing and stock market bubble made possible because of short-term capital inflows. And as the global economic crisis has deepened, causing debt to dry up, debt-driven consumption growth has ended. As a consequence, many jobs created in services, trade and other sectors are also now being lost.
3.1.3 We demand a moratorium on all retrenchments and immediate government intervention to prevent closures and retrenchments. We will not pay the price for the collapse of a rotten economic system!
3.2 Be vigilant in the face of crisis!
3.2.1 The extent of retrenchments during this crisis is a serious threat to the integrity of our affiliated unions. We must be particularly vigilant and guard against employers’ attempts to restructure the labour force in the guise of retrenchments allegedly made necessary by adverse market conditions.
3.2.2 It is also vital that we ensure that our internal communication and information networks are upgraded to ensure that any threats of retrenchment or short-time working or any need to organise to defend jobs, are rapidly disseminated across our structures. We can also not rely on information from employer sources: labour needs to maintain its own databases of job losses and threats to jobs.
3.2.3 The threat of job losses tends to cause workers to view their situation from a narrow perspective and attempt to defend their jobs at the expense of other workers or on gender, ethnic, national or racial lines. We need to reassert the necessity of defending the rights of women workers, foreign workers, casualised workers and the unemployed. Employers will otherwise attempt to divide us in order to defeat us and drive down our living standards. The workers united will never be defeated! We shall not pay for their crisis!
3.3 Service delivery standards
3.3.1 In the face of deepening economic crisis it is clear that current levels and standard of services are inadequate, especially for households with people living with HIV, AIDS and TB.
3.3.2 We call for the upwards reviewing of current standards and an intensification of service delivery. Even where RDP standards are met services are not ensuring the human dignity of workers and their families.
3.3.3 Congress is concerned that the education system has failed to assist in building a modern democratic society where the full human potential of our people is fulfilled. We demand free universal quality education!
3.3.4 Current maternity provisions are unacceptable. We demand change in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act stipulating 6 months paid maternity leave for all employed women.
3.3.5 While we look forward to governments interventions to speed up employment creating growth this is likely to have limited impact in the short term. We therefore reiterate the demand for a basic income grant for all South Africans.
3.3.6 South Africa, and the Eastern Cape in particular, has inherited a defunct public transport system. This congress calls on the government to establish a public transport system for the working class in urban as well as rural areas.
4 On the Situation in the Eastern Cape
4.1 Despite the tireless efforts of workers and activists in Cosatu in bringing about another election victory for the ANC, congress notes what appears to be continued marginalisation of Cosatu in Alliance affairs in the Eastern Cape. Despite intense lobbying, Cosatu’s candidate the Premiership and preferences for MECs were not heeded by the ANC. Cosatu urges maximum unity of progressive forces and an end to sectarian practices in the Alliance.
4.2 We demand that there should be an immediate reshuffle of the cabinet to ensure it is representative of all components of the Alliance.
4.3 Government’s own reports show that the Provincial Growth and Development plan has failed to bring about significant reduction in poverty and unemployment. There is an urgent need to review the PGDP and Cosatu calls on government to develop a new long term development plan for the Eastern Cape that challenges the neo-liberal development paradigm of the Mbeki-era and emphasises decent jobs.
4.4 Cosatu notes with interest the announcement that a Provincial Planning commission is to be established. Congress hopes that this Commission will play an active and interventionist role in the coordination of government’s programmes and ensure the necessary structural transformation of both the economy and state in the province. However, Cosatu demands that the Commission should not be a narrow elite structure, but should instead be accountable to the people’s elected representatives.
4.5 Appalled at the slow pace of service delivery in the province, notably in areas of basic services, health and education, Congress resolves to play a more active role in monitoring service delivery. The PEC will ensure that our structures are involved in independent monitoring of delivery from a working class perspective. We intend to highlight both the plight of workers and of working class communities that are denied the basics of a dignified human life.
4.6 As part of this monitoring of service delivery, Cosatu previously declared a Section 77 dispute with provincial government at NELDAC. Given the slow change in this situation we resolve once more to follow this route and re-activate our application.
4.7 In the past five years, Cosatu and its affiliates have entered into a number of agreements, for example the Jobs Summit, District Growth and Development Summits, Health Summit, Land Summit and Education Summit agreements. We are of the view that much of what was agreed has not been implemented and there are no mechanisms to hold the signatories, most notably government, accountable. In the coming period, Cosatu will be less willing to waste valuable organising time on such summits and multi-stakeholder agreements.
4.8 Due to the underdeveloped nature of the economy in the Eastern Cape, women continue to disproportionately suffer the effects of capitalist exploitation and oppression. In the face of deepening crisis capital will seek to further cheapen the price of labour by increasing the burden on women in the home and through deepening the gender inequalities in the labour market. Unacceptable levels of gender based and sexual violence are symptoms of this. Cosatu resolves to continue to fight for the equal rights of women in society and against the oppression of women – both in the home and in the workplace! No woman should have to give sexual favours for jobs or promotion!
4.9 Congress condemn all attacks and discrimination caused by xenophobia and racism on workers from Africa and all over the world who seek work, asylum or refuge in South Africa. The struggle for socialism can only be won if national barriers within the working class are broken down!
4.10 Cosatu notes with great satisfaction the renewed political emphasis on rural development in South Africa. Congress supports the development of a rural development strategy for the Eastern Cape. This strategy should contain clear programmes on land reform, transformation of power relations in rural areas, jobs creation and infrastructure. Moreover the focus on rural development should be used as an opportunity to confront the current neo-liberal and market oriented development trajectory.
4.11 For all this to be achieved, we require a committed and working class leadership of the ANC working together with the Alliance. Cosatu commits to making its contribution to a strong ANC as a leader of the Alliance.
5 Organisational Programmes
5.1 During 2009 Cosatu has sent some of its best leaders to take up seats in Parliament and Provincial Legislature. In 2011 Cosatu activists and leaders will no doubt take up positions as councillors in Local Government. In order to ensure that these cadres continues to promote the programme and ideas of Cosatu and the interest of the working class a structure will be urgent created for engaging these cadre.
5.2 As a province, we stand behind the call for a public sector strike should government not meet Cosatu’s demands by Friday 29 May. If demands are not met other sectors within Cosatu in the Eastern Cape will carry out the necessary solidarity action.
5.3 Solidarity between unions is a fundamental principle of Cosatu. We will not accept any poaching of members between unions.
5.4 Over the next three years Cosatu will place specific emphasis on building the organisation. We will strengthen the existing structures and ensure that all locals and other structures function well and play active part in political and workers education. These structures should first and foremost develop enhanced capability to engage employers in the workplace.
5.5 In order to increase Cosatu’s influence on policymaking in the province we will establish a panel of progressive experts. This will resemble the current “walking through doors” project of Cosatu at national level. We call on all progressive academics, intellectuals and policy makers to contribute to the work of the panel!
Congress notes that not all the demands presented above are likely to be achieved under the capitalist system, but we can look to Latin America an example of what a strong leadership, a strong state and mass mobilisation can do!
At the close of this congress we re-dedicate ourselves to a struggle for a new form of society that will forever liberate the working people from the tyranny of the market.
Hasta la Victoria, Siempre!
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