Johannesburg – The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is gearing up for its nationwide protests and other activities across the country on Friday to mark the World Day for Decent Work.
Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the action was a Section 77 protected national action that forms part of our International Day of Decent Work Day.
Cosatu is calling on all workers to participate in the planned activities and to exercise their right to demand the respect of labour laws and the calls for decent work from employers and policymakers.
Pamla said: “From its very founding, the federation committed itself to organise and unite workers on the basis of improving their wages and raising their standard of living and making sure that they protect themselves from the insecurities of life.”
Cosatu said it felt obligated now than ever to stand up for workers, given that the government had found itself unable to deal with an ongoing capitalist crisis which had resulted in increasing austerity measures.
The cuts in public spending had led to a reduction in social and economic benefits to the people, in wages, retirement benefits and pensions, health and education and social welfare transfers, Pamla said.
“The public service cuts in the public service wage bill have plunged this economy into meltdown and decimated the township and rural economy.
“The number of people suffering from depression and mental illness have increased as a consequence of these attacks on working people’s livelihoods.
“As more working people are attacked, through salary cuts, job losses and foreclosures, inequalities have widened. The increase in inequality means working families’ purchasing power is significantly diminished.
“The workers need to unite in defending jobs, fighting corruption, as well as the shortcomings of our law enforcement agencies in fighting corruption and gender-based violence. We need to fearlessly express our determination to protect the integrity of collective bargaining, and to resist all attempts by employers to undermine it,” said Pamla.
The federation has demanded that the government show that it is ready to abandon the ineffectual budget cuts and adopt a macro-economic framework geared to address the basic needs of the people, transform the economy, strengthen the public service, and renew efforts to build a capable developmental state in the upcoming Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
It also calls for the MTBPS to clearly provide a commitment on the Eskom debt in order to finally address the energy crises that continues to weaken the South African economy.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the public transport system took a hard hit and was further crippled by the rising cost of fuel this year, which has only served as a reminder that very little will be achieved without the majority of people having access to a reliable, affordable and integrated public transport system.
The federation also believes that it is not possible to address the economic challenges effectively without dealing with the major problems such as transport, which is the lifeblood of the economy.
“The current inadequate public transport failure reflects the failures of our overall economic system.
“South African workers built this country’s economy and they continue to keep its wheels turning. They deserve a decent living wage and working conditions.
“Workers should also remember that they are their own liberators, and that there is no saviour on the horizon. We must organise, mobilise and be ready to fight relentlessly to shape a future that is free of exploitation, corruption, unemployment, poverty and inequality,” said Pamla