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Cosatu labels Walmart as a threat

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is determined to see labour brokers banned and says organised labour is facing two new threats in the form of Walmart and the Youth Wage Subsidy.

On Thursday, the final day of Cosatu's fifth central committee meeting, it issued a draft declaration that stated employed workers did not escape the effects of the recent global recession.

“More and more workers, including many working in the hall where we met (at Gallagher Estate), are employed by labour brokers on poverty pay, some for only a few days a month, with no security, no benefits and none of the fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution and labour laws. We are more determined to get labour brokers banned,” the draft declaration said.

It went on to say that even in sectors that had bargaining councils, some employers were blatantly refusing to abide by negotiated agreements, and were threatening to close factories and move to countries where workers are even worse paid.

The draft declaration labelled US retail giant Walmart as being “union bashing” and accused it of trying to squeeze workers' wages to the minimum and would cause massive job losses in its rival retail companies and South African manufacturers.

“The central committee pledged its total support to the SACCAWU (South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union) campaign and resolved to take to the streets to defend jobs and union rights,” it said.

The draft declaration went to say that the Youth Wage Subsidy threatened to cause even greater “super-exploitation” of workers, as employers would “rush to retrench older workers whose wages are not subsidised.”

Cosatu's draft declaration said the union federation had resolved to take its “Living Wage Campaign” to new heights as a means to counter the mentioned threats.

Part of this campaign would be to establish a commission that would meet four times a year to analyse and assess progress in improving workers' wages.

“We are more determined than ever to unite workers in their common struggles and mobilise solidarity action in support of workers fighting for better wages,” the draft declaration said.

Cosatu said it would also focus on the 'social wage', by campaigning for the national health insurance system to be implemented, decent and affordable housing, free education for all and safe, reliable and affordable public transport. - I-Net Bridge

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