Cosatu secretary-general Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko
Cosatu secretary-general Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Cosatu planning strike over wage stalemate before elections

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published Apr 9, 2021

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Johannesburg - Trade union federation Cosatu is planning a public sector strike before the upcoming local government elections over the wage stalemate with government.

But the federation said it would not abandon the ANC.

“We are not abandoning the ANC yet because as part of the alliance, we do not want to open a political vacuum that will see the organisation hijacked by the reactionary and criminal elements who have been attempting to capture it since the 1994 democratic breakthrough.

“The central committee will continue to assess the state of the alliance and its reconfiguration, taking into consideration the offensive against the working class,” said Cosatu secretary-general Bheki Ntshalintshali on Thursday.

The labour union convened a special central executive committee meeting this week to discuss its perspective and approach to the upcoming local government elections in the light of the serious crisis faced by workers as a result of what they called the “deepening crisis of capitalism” and the intensification of austerity attacks on the working and living conditions of the poor.

Ntshalintshali said what will complicate this year’s campaign for local government elections is that the union will also be having a parallel campaign to defend collective bargaining.

“There is a real possibility that workers in the public service and the public sector, in general, will be on strike fighting the wage freeze and retrenchments during elections. We will not compromise on this campaign and we are encouraging all our unions to mobilise and fight back against retrenchments,” said Ntshalintshali.

He said this is the reason the meeting also resolved to convene urgent political bilateral meetings with both the ANC and the SACP within 14 days, to discuss all the challenges facing the workers and society.

“The current tensions between workers and the ANC government over the ongoing budget cuts and attacks on collective bargaining are a manifestation of the deep-seated and systemic crisis workers are facing in all sectors,” he said.

Ntshalintshali said this periodic exercise of assessing the state of the alliance was done every time before any round of elections, because their vote for the ANC is not guaranteed and workers do not give the ANC a blank cheque.

Ntshalintshali said the meeting noted that it is convened at a time when the country's official unemployment rate has increased to 32%, with many workers losing their jobs in both the public and the private sector.

“While Covid-19 has worsened an already bad situation, the reality is that South Africa has been sitting on a ticking bomb since the 1994 democratic breakthrough. Sadly, government has done little to tamper with this flawed system of apartheid capitalism and instead its inappropriate macroeconomic policies have exacerbated the situation,” said Ntshalintshali.

He added that only capital and the small but dominant black and white elite have benefited from the socio-economic policies implemented by successive ANC governments since 1994.

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Political Bureau

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