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All systems go for Cosatu mass action

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Coasatu in the Northern Cape has called on all employees who can’t join the planned marches in Kimberley, Kuruman and Upington to stay at home

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla

IT’S ALL systems go for Cosatu’s mass national strike on Wednesday and in the Northern Cape it has been anticipated that there will be a total shutdown of the economy.

Cosatu provincial secretary Orapeling Moraladi said on Monday that the federation was calling on all employees who could not join the planned marches in Kimberley, Kuruman and Upington to stay at home.

“We are expecting around 500 people to join each of the marches,” Moraladi said. “All sectors of the economy, private and public, as well as all unions affiliated with Cosatu, are expected to participate. We have gone out to mobilise the workers and the response has been very good.”

Moraladi said the union was demanding a safe, affordable and effective public transport system, while it would also be demonstrating against the exploitation of workers, corruption in both the public and private sectors, gender-based violence and other socio-economic issues, including the health and safety of workers.

The federation has pointed out that most citizens do not have access to a reliable, affordable and integrated public transport system, adding that many workers contracted the coronavirus as a result of fully-packed taxis.

“We are calling on the government to respect the agreement made at the bargaining council and to implement the increases that were agreed upon. We are sick and tired of being treated like glorified slaves – the workers deserve to be given what is due to them.”

He added that the federation was also calling for an end to rampant corruption, especially in the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). “A lot of money is being chewed by the wolves. This is money that should be going to building up the economy and creating jobs.”

The union has also reiterated its call for the HOD of Sport, Arts and Culture in the Province to be relieved of her duties, following the report by the public protector. “All public officials who have benefited unfairly will be held to account and face the consequences of their actions.”

The programme of action for the day includes public marches in Kimberley, Upington and Kuruman.

In Kimberley, union members will converge at the City Hall at 8am and will hand over memorandums to the premier, the CCMA, the Department of Employment and Labour and the SAPS.

Sizwe Pamla, Cosatu national spokesperson, pointed out that the inadequacy of the country’s economic system had left workers, especially front-line workers, exposed during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Many of them contracted this deadly virus because of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the systemic failure of the public transport system,” said Pamla.

“It is impossible to fix the serious economic challenges without dealing with the major problems such as transport in the country. In our view, this is crucial for enhancing local economic development and eliminating the apartheid spatial challenges. Most citizens, especially those in rural areas, cannot access social services such as health because of lack of transport.”

Pamla stated further that blatant undermining of collective bargaining was a test for the trade union movement.

“This represents the blatant attempt to erode hard-won workers’ rights and reverse these gains of democracy. Front-line workers are being forced to fight a deadly virus while also defending their rights that are being violated, including the non-implementation of Resolution 1 of 2018.

“It is clear that the government expects our members to make sacrifices for an economic crisis that has been compounded by the looting and mismanagement in government, SOEs and municipalities. Corruption in the private sector has also seen price gouging in many sectors of the economy, like retail and pharmaceutical sectors, compounding existing inequality and poverty.”

Pamla added that according to government figures, corruption cost the SA Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at least R27 billion annually, depriving the country of possible 76 000 jobs that would otherwise have been created.

“The Covid-19 UIF/Ters fund has been looted by many employers who have failed to pay the money to the relevant workers, leaving many families struggling to put food on the table. The PPE corruption tender allegations have shown the depth of the problem and more than 250 workers have lost their lives in the health sector as a result of inadequate provision of protective equipment.”

He added that this was the time for the trade union movement to take the lead in the fight against this looming collapse and push back against greed and mismanagement of the country.

“Our failure to take a stand and defend the interests of our members in the face of looting and mismanagement of the country would represent the worst form of cowardice that we would live to regret.”