COSATU (the Confederation of South African Trade Unions) has vowed to ask the African National Congress (ANC) government to isolate the Eswatini (Swaziland) monarchy until it allows free political activities and human rights.
The federation, through its president Zingiswa Losi, made the pledge to involve the ANC in its ongoing campaign against the eSwatini monarchy and its persecution of political activists and banning of political parties at the federation’s Central Committee (CC) at the weekend.
Losi said the CC has recommitted that COSATU will continue mobilising and providing practical support for workers facing ‘an abusive monarchy in eSwatini, a collapsed economy in Zimbabwe, a terrorist insurgency in northern Mozambique, occupation in Western Sahara, military rule in Palestine, and sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba.’
Following the meeting, COSATU released a 12-page declaration in which they stated that the central committee had ‘made an in-depth analysis on the international balance of forces and the implications for the working class, particularly in the global south where the effects of imperialism are harsher.’
It identified the urgency of the need to strengthen and support the campaign for democracy in Swaziland and for an end of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela and the removal of Israel as an observer at the African Union (AU).
‘The Southern African region is undergoing the most profound and thorough process of struggle, not seen in many years.
‘In fact, since the end of colonialism and apartheid, we are witnessing serious political and economic changes that are shaking the power structure of the whole region,’ the declaration read.
And it underlined: ‘The political upheaval in some of the southern African countries has created a good basis for an effective and highly mobilised regional solidarity movement.
‘We call for the release of all our leaders who are in jail in Swaziland, and urgent medical assistance for comrade Amos Mbedzi who is seriously ill.’
The CC paid detailed attention to the tragic crisis unfolding in Swaziland, recently escalated by the powerful resistance of the people in response to the brutality and repressive show of power of the monarchy of King Mswati and his government.
‘Towards that end, the CC resolved that the federation, in conjunction with the alliance as a whole, must lead in the campaign to isolate the Mswati regime until the attainment of political and human rights based on a new and democratic society,’ the declaration stated.
It said that the fact that more than 75 people have recently been killed in Swaziland, demands that all South African leaders and unions, including the ANC, actively support the call for democracy in Swaziland and to decisively support the call for effective co-ordination of targeted sanctions and boycott of all companies and business interests of King Mswati, his family and government.
‘We also offer our solidarity to the workers and the people of Mozambique, who have, and still are, suffering from the violence of an Islamic Insurgency in the northern Province of Cabo Delgado.
‘In 2017, a group calling itself Ansar al-Sunna started carrying out attacks on government and civilian targets in Mozambique,’ COSATU stated.
- Making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for the mining industry workforce might not be necessary after the immunisation roll-out in the sector reached a milestone last week.
More than 203 000 mining employees and contractors have been fully or partially vaccinated as of last Wednesday at 52 workplace vaccination sites and temporary facilities, Minerals Council South Africa chief executive Roger Baxter told a media briefing.
He said the industry’s priority was to reach a target of getting 80% of its workforce vaccinated by November, and indications from the smooth roll-out were that the target was achievable through a partnership with provincial health departments, private companies and mining companies that have fewer than 4,000 employees.
‘Our objective is to get industry level immunity by the end of November. We are not focused on mandatory vaccination currently but it could be considered in due course,’ said Baxter.
‘Lots of companies have achieved 80% with at least one jab given to workers so let’s allow that process to flow.’
He said getting at least 49% of the workforce vaccinated had been possible because labour unions had advocated for this among their members and supported company-based roll-out programmes.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said encouraging workers to get vaccinated was a no-brainer given the working environment for the sector.
‘We told our members that they must go and get vaccinated because they work in a crowded environment underground, so it was important for the NUM to encourage members to vaccinate and we are happy that a lot of members did as requested,’ said NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu.
However, Mammburu said that although NUM’s leadership is working with mining companies to promote immunisation against Covid-19, it would not support making this mandatory.
‘As the NUM, we don’t support compulsory vaccination,; he said. ‘Our members are vaccinating without being forced so we don’t think there’s a need to force our members to do the compulsory vaccination.
‘For us it would be unacceptable and unconstitutional, so our members are willingly getting vaccinated.’
- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will stage a national strike in the country’s engineering sector from October 5th after wage talks reached a deadlock.
Employers in the important economic sector, which has struggled amid an economic downturn exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, have baulked at NUMSA’s demands for an 8% rise in the first year and inflation plus 2% for the following two years.
Industry body, SEIFSA, (The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa) which is offering a 4.4% hike for 2021, inflation plus 0.5% in 2022 and inflation plus 1% in the third year confirmed the deadlock and strike call.
‘We will launch the strike with a national march,’ NUMSA said in a statement.
It is the largest trade union in the engineering sector and has hit a deadlock with the four big employer associations in the Engineering Bargaining Council, which represents around 430,000 workers in 90,000 companies around South Africa.
SEIFSA said strike action would have significant impact on the struggling economy and companies.
‘We have experienced unprecedented job losses and companies are really struggling to keep their doors open,’ said its chief executive Lucio Trentini.