South African Metal And Municipal Unions Demand Cosatu Leaders Convene Congress Or Resign!

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NUMSA members on the march
NUMSA members on the march

THE South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) has joined the Natioal Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in demanding COSATU convene a Special National Congress.

Last Thursday, a press statement by Lekoba Jacob Modimoeng, SAMWU North West Provincial Secretary declared: ‘The South African Municipal Workers in the North West Province is calling on COSATU National Office Bearers to convene a Special National Congress as constitutionally requested by affiliates by no later than the end of April 2014 or opt to tender their resignations.

‘All manner of reasons, coupled with substantial motivations and the COSATU Constitutional provisions have been advanced by the nine unions on why a Special National Congress is necessary.

‘It is sad and more worrying that this noble call has once again fallen on deaf ears.

‘We are calling on the COSATU National Office Bearers to resign or convene the Special Cosatu Congress because of the following hard realities:

‘The COSATU National Office Bearers have dismally failed the federation’s broader membership in this country while eagerly awaiting government deployment.

‘When some of these leaders speak, we no longer know or are certain as to which side of the fence/organization they are representing.

‘COSATU is definitely no longer strongest workers’ federation in the country as it used to be since the suspension of the General Secretary Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi.

‘The COSATU National Leadership has failed to deliver on the 2012 mandate; by and large have closed their eyes as if nothing is happening in the federation.

‘They have allowed the federation to collapse in front of their own eyes whilst the workers’ federation is gradually collapsing.

‘The question that needs to be asked is “Where is their conscience; and are they able to sleep at night?”

‘The COSATU National Office Bearers should do the honourable thing and resign for the sake of millions of; not only COSATU members, but all South African communities who had faith and trust in COSATU.

‘If this leadership does not resign or convene the Special National Congress on or before the end of April 2014, as SAMWU, we will embark on a campaign which will do amongst others some of the following:

‘1. Mobilising all our members to boycott all COSATU activities and to openly campaign for the immediate removal of all the COSATU National Leadership.

‘2. Collapse all COSATU programmes and terminate any engagements with COSATU at all levels.

‘3. Picketing and mass mobilisation of our members to the National COSATU House to withdraw President Sdumo Dlamini and all the other remaining national leadership.

‘Lastly, it is unacceptable and embarrassing that this leadership went out of its way to employ/hire very expensive Advocates of Law to deal with Comrade Vavi’s case; the Senior Counsel that has up until cost COSATU around R10 million and an average cost of R30,000 per day.

‘The money that has been utilised to deal with Comrade Vavi’s matter is coming from workers who are earning miserable and poor salaries and wages every month.

‘Workers are harassed, dismissed, intimidated, killed and are working terrible and unacceptable working conditions almost every day of their lives whilst the COSATU leadership is busy using their hard earned money to fight and create more divisions within COSATU instead of running the campaigns of the federation.

‘Rampant corruption in private and public institutions has become the order of the day yet the labour federation is nowhere near dealing with these challenges.

‘Workers and community members are shot and killed during service delivery protest whilst the labour federation is looking on as spectators; nowhere near dealing with these challenges.

‘The COSATU leadership that creates more divisions and factions in our federation can never be true revolutionaries and should not be allowed to lead our federation.

‘They are more worried about other organizations’ programmes on when and how they will be deployed in posh government positions.

‘For these reasons, they should not be allowed to lead our federation.

‘Our call is critically clear.

‘Our revolution is under attack.

‘It is about time that we call on those who are not doing what they are supposed to be doing to do the honourable thing: “Call The Special National Congress Or Resign Now!!!” ’

Meanwhile, the strike by platinum miners for a living wage is continuing at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) workers hardened their opposition to a wage offer last Thursday.

Hours after top platinum mines issued a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum, the AMCU said it would achieve its demand for a minimum wage of R12,500 ($1,125) ‘however necessary’.

AMCU said in a statement: ‘We are encouraged by the determination of our members to confront capital head on and demand what is just and equitable.’

Mining companies say the union’s demands could spell unaffordable wage increases of up to 150 per cent. They are instead offering a seven to nine per cent pay increase in each of the next three years.

Last Wednesday, companies appeared to be unyielding in their wage offer, hinting at possible job loses if the strike continues.

The companies also accused AMCU of negotiating in bad faith, saying ‘it was not possible to negotiate if only one party ever moves and the other party maintains its position’.

They claim they have lost a collective R4.4 billion since the strike began. South Africa holds around 80 percent of the world”s known platinum reserves.

AMCU responded on Thursday by threatening to step up its protests and demanding chief executives be present during talks.

AMCU said: ‘In the coming weeks we will be engaging in marches to mining houses and government departments to deliver our demands.

‘We will coordinate campaigns locally and to the international community where we will unravel the extent of exploitation in South Africa at the hands of these multi-national companies.’

Tens of thousands of AMCU members downed tools on January 23, in a strike that was a culmination of the 2012 wage dispute, which led to the massacre of workers by police in August at lonmin’s Marikana site.

Last week, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said it was suing the AMCU for property damages and losses worth R591-million ($54 million, 40 million euros) suffered during stoppages.

AMCU responded: ‘The litigation from Amplats is a last ditch attempt to declare the protected strike action by AMCU as illegal.’

It said on Thursday that it is willing to move from its R12,500 wage demand on condition that it negotiates directly with the CEOs of South Africa’s three biggest platinum producers.

Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa accused mine bosses of being ‘possessed’.

‘We are prepared to see it through,’ he told a news briefing.

Asked how long they would strike, Mathunjwa replied, ‘until we achieve a settlement that is accommodative of our 12,500 rand ($1,100) a month demand’.

Mathunjwa said the strike was no longer just about a wage settlement but was now a struggle for survival and the culmination of years of super-exploitation by the mining industry.

‘This is not about time, it’s about the cause,’ said Mathunjwa, flanked by about 30 AMCU shop stewards clad in the union’s trade-mark green shirts.