Posted by on July 27, 2001 at 14:02:39:
Congress of South African Trade Unions
COSATU Executive Committee
The COSATU Executive Committee met in its ordinary session on 24-25 July. It considered a broad range of organisational, political, socio-economic and international issues. This statement summarises the key decisions of the Executive Committee. On 26 July the EXCO held a bilateral meeting with the SACP, which is covered in a separate statement.
2. The Alliance and Anti-Privatisation Campaign
The EXCO received a progress report on preparations for the Alliance Summit, which is now scheduled to take place on 22 September 2001. Originally the summit was supposed to take place on 18-19 August but due to logistical and other preparations had to be postponed to September. EXCO endorsed this postponement as unavoidable.
The Summit is very significant in alliance relations in the current period. It will deal with serious questions that have confronted the alliance for a long time. In the main aim of the summit will be to define the role of the alliance in the current period; relations within the alliance; and the alliance relationship with governance processes. Among other issues, the alliance summit will discuss the state of the National Democratic Revolution, challenges facing the alliance, protocols to govern alliance relations and the alliance programme for transformation.
EXCO agreed to the phased approach to deal with contentious issues within the alliance. Therefore there will be a series of meeting intended to iron out a number of outstanding issues. This summit will lay the basis for future summits to deal with controversial questions like the macroeconomic policy.
EXCO was unanimous in its position that the alliance still represents the only vehicle to transform South African society. Those current debates within the alliance do not signal that imminent break-up of the alliance as prophesised in the media but the quest to make the alliance the actual driver of transformation.
Further a report on the anti-privatisation campaign was tabled at the EXCO. The campaign is gathering momentum and is being supported by many communities now confronted with electricity and telecommunication cuts.
It is also important to dispel the myths that have been projected in the media during the past few days. The alliance meeting on 16 July took place to find a political solution to the differences around privatisation. The meeting was confidential to ensure frank and open discussion within the alliance and it is regrettable that a document purporting to reflect the discussions was leaked. Those who leaked the contents of the discussion are irresponsible and have no desire to see an amicable settlement of the issues. The leaked document has no status and actually paints an inaccurate picture of the discussions.
EXCO was addressed by comrade Nelson Mandela who made a passionate plea for union leaders to become champions in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Comrade Mandela was worried that the message is not penetrating the remotest areas of our country and that 46% of the people polled by his foundation said they had learnt nothing about HIV/AIDS during the last year.
The EXCO decided to intensify the COSATU HIV/AIDS campaign focusing on prevention (raising awareness around HIV/AIDS), treatment strategies and so forth. Every union leader was urged to inform each meeting about HIV/AIDS to ensure that they raise the anti-HIV/AIDS Message. COSATU will step its campaign during the 16 days of activist culminating in the International AIDS Day on 1 December 2001. COSATU will also call for the expansion of SANAC to ensure that it is fully representative. Further COSATU should call for a national civil society conference to discuss how to take forward the issue of HIV/AIDS and a National Treatment Plan. The full text of Nelson Mandelaís speech is available and is on the COSATU web site ñ www.cosatu.org.za . Photos of the event are available from William Matlala. Please phone him on 082 693 4359.
4. World Racism Conference
EXCO discussed the forthcoming World Conference Against Racism scheduled to take place later August in Durban. It is an honour that this Conference takes place in Durban after seven years of democracy in South Africa. It signals the progress that we have made as a people against the apartheid monstrosity. COSATU will attend the Conference as part of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions delegation. It will also attend the NGO Forum on 30 August 2001.
Although we can be proud that we defeated institutionalised racism in the form of apartheid, racial discrimination, xenophobia and tribalism remain a challenge our people have to face. Too many workplaces have problems of racial, gender or even religious discrimination. We are calling on all people to respond to our call to demonstrate in their thousands on 1 September in Durban, to congratulate the organisers on holding such a conference and to ensure that our demand for a truly non-racial, non-sexist South Africa and the world is taken up in the discussions
The progressive world is looking towards this conference to emerge with clear resolutions to deal with the scourge of racism, xenophobia and related intolerances. For the vast majority of the people in the developing countries this conference must emerge with tangible programmes to address the legacy of colonial oppression. In order to highlight its aspirations COSATU will have demonstrations at the Conference coinciding with its anti-privatisation campaign.
5. The Situation in Swaziland
Jan Sithole (General Secretary) and Richard Nxumalo (President) of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions addressed the EXCO on the political situation in Swaziland. Trade unionists continue to be persecuted because of their active opposition to the current tyranny unleashed by the Swazi monarchy. Trade union leaders have been charged but are out of jail. Although trade union meetings have been unbanned they are subject to stringent conditions including police attending the meeting to record the proceedings and political issues should not being discussed. The latest draconian royal decree imposes a R50 000 fine or 10 years for impersonating the king! The SFTU demands that this decree and the 1973 decree be withdrawn.
EXCO decided to condemn the recent attacks on human and trade union rights and adds its voice to the calls for free political activity. COSATU calls on SADC and the international community to put pressure on the Swazi regime. EXCO called on the COSATU members to refuse to handle goods to and from Swaziland. COSATU will support the blockade when it is called. COSATU will further table the matter before the alliance and with government. Lastly our members are called upon to donate blankets and other necessities to the refugees fleeing the repression in Swaziland.
EXCO expressed concern at the imbalance in the South African media between the low-key coverage of the latest assaults on democracy and human and trade union rights in Swaziland, compared to the highlighting of attacks on democracy in other countries.
6. Labour Law Negotiations
EXCO received a progress report on negotiations around and the labour law and was generally satisfied with progress so far.
7. Central Committee
The Central Committee originally scheduled to take place in September has been postponed to 9-22 November 19-22. The Central Committee will take a hard look on the organisation and develop a plan to reposition the organisation in the new millennium. October has been declared ëThe Month of the Memberí. All affiliates will mobilise their members to recruit, organise, educate workers on HIV/AIDS and occupational health and safety and debate how best COSATU can be strengthened to meet the challenge of serving our members.
8. International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
The General Secretary reported on the recent ICFTU Executive Board meeting in Genoa at which he submitted a document, a copy of which is being distributed. The EXCO committed itself to support a first-ever International Trade Union Day of Action on 9 November 2001, coinciding with the next World Trade Organisation Summit in Qatar. It will demand comprehensive development policies, debt write-off reform of the international financial institutions, significant increases in bilateral aid, a new initiative on health, education and poverty reduction and the strengthening of core labour standards throughout the world.
9. National Womenís Day
COSATU will be mobilising its members to celebrate national Womenís Day on 9 August.
End of statement
Patrick Craven and Moloto Mothapo Acting COSATU Spokespersons
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