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How SA's unions see #SONA2017 priorities

SONA

Johannesburg – “South Africans should be afforded the option to choose the mode of transport they prefer and should not be compelled to use what is available as is now the case,” said Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela.

“Connected to that is the development of an appropriate road and rail infrastructure and the question of inclusive spatial planning,” she said.

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Picture: Independent Media

Sabela said they would also like the president to provide more information about the Moloto Rail Development Corridor.

“In September last year, he said a railway line would be developed between Gauteng and Mpumalanga to ease traffic and fatalities on Moloto Road but, since then, very little has been mentioned with regard to timelines and budget allocation.”

Asked about Satawu related matters that were addressed at last year’s SONA but have since fallen by the wayside, Sabela said the president made it clear state-owned enterprises had to be financially sound, properly governed and managed.

“He also said their mandates would be streamlined and sharpened and that some state-owned enterprises would be phased out.

“We haven’t heard much about this except the proposed merger of SAA, Mango and SA Express,” she said.

Sabela said Satawu would like SONA 2017 to shed more light on Radical Economic Transformation.

“The president also needs to share more details on how the land question will be dealt with. Above all we would like a commitment to continuous and intensive investment in road and rail infrastructure.”

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) said it hoped Zuma would give an overview on how the government will tackle unbearable working conditions for nurses.

The union’s general secretary, Oscar Phaka, said severe staff shortages in clinics and hospitals, as well as the absence of staffing norms made the life of nurses unbearable in the workplace.

“In 2011, in Zuma’s SONA, he announced government’s intention to reopen and revitalise 105 previously closed nursing colleges as the country prepared for the National Health Insurance,” said Phaka.

There had been little to no development in the government’s intention, which was causing major strain on nursing.

“In fact, there has never been a feedback on how much of this has been achieved.

“This is a serious matter that is make or break for the health of many South Africans, and as such we feel it must feature in his address,” he said.

Also, many nurses who had studied with government funding were sitting at home unemployed while vacancies were high.

He hoped the president would address all the issues and give an overview on how the government hoped to intervene in the nursing challenges of the country, as the union prepared itself for NHI.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are hoping Zuma will be tough on mining companies which do not comply with labour and safety laws.

This was the assertion of NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu, who told The Star the union also feels that the government is not doing enough to address issues regarding retrenchments in the mining industry.

He added that the NUM felt mining houses did not adhere to due processes when they retrenched workers.

“Mining companies find it easy to issue Section 189 notices of the Labour Relations Act to retrench, but they don’t want to align it to Section 52 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, which says that if a mining company is going to retrench 10% or more of its workers, the CCMA and the Department of Mineral Resources must work together to deal with those retrenchments,” Mammburu said.

“We want to hear what President Zuma is going to say about mining companies challenging the laws of this land whenever they feel like it.

“The Department of Mineral Resources is not doing anything about it - they are not hard enough on the companies.”

Mammburu also said the president should outline how the government will ensure that mining companies provide decent housing for workers, adding that the department should also be firm on this matter as the union was tired of mineworkers living in single-sex hostels “like we are in the apartheid era”.

“There are other mining houses which are doing well in providing houses for their workers like Royal Bafokeng Platinum.

“An ordinary mineworker at Royal Bafokeng owns a house valued at R600 000.”

The Star

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