COSATUThe Congress of South African Trade Unions is ready to celebrate and commemorate this year’s International Workers Day “Mayday” all across country on the 1st of May 2018. The federation has about fourteen marches and rallies all across the country; this will ensure that workers are involved and are able to participate in the celebrations. Our National May Day rally will be in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro at Isaac Wolfson Stadium and will be addressed by the President of COSATU S”dumo Dlamini, President of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa, General Secretary of the SACP Cde Blade Nzimande and SANCO President Cde Richard Mdakane.

The choice of Nelson Mandela Metro was deliberate to liberate our people from the exploitative and suppression of the workers and their communities from the chains of Trolip and the DA. Under the leadership of the notorious DA in the recent weeks ,we have noticed the collapse of service delivery. This is the highest charging on municipality rates; leading in electricity cut and generate income on reconnecting fees. The outsourcing is very high, business is being given to outsiders, and costs of doing business are intolerable.

It is for this reason that workers and the communities want to restore NMM under the Alliance control, restore the sound relationship between the Municipality workers and management, re-building the NMM as an economy hub, make service delivery accessible and affordable.

COSATU celebrates the 2018 May Day under the theme: “Building Unity and Cohesion of COSATU to advance the National Democratic Revolution. This theme reflects our focus of building our engines, protecting jobs and pushing for economic transformation. We will continue to lead our members and unions in their struggles and campaigns, as a way of building strong workplace organisations, and also consolidating their unity, cohesion and organisational power.

May Day gives workers an opportunity to reflect on the struggles, sacrifices and victories of the workers since 1886, when workers stood up and demanded eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. The struggle for a living wage and for better working conditions continues.

Workers under the leadership of Cosatu and working within the Alliance led by the ANC have noted achievements for example the right to strike without fear of dismissal; the right to refuse to do dangerous work, increase UIF benefit in case of retrenchments; free schooling; paid maternity leave; free tertiary education for the children of the poor and the working class and many more.

This May Day takes place during a very difficult period for the workers. We have seen an increase in VAT, increase in Fuel levy and a possible increase in electricity tariff. The current electricity and petrol price increases are not just hitting the poor hard but they are also hampering economic growth and employment creation.

We have lost over 480 000 jobs since 2012, when corporations were given tax breaks. The wages have stagnated and many workers are struggling to feed and clothe their families.

We support all the efforts to kick-start our economy by government. It is deeply worrying for us that South Africa is currently said to have the highest jobless rate of more than 60 emerging and developed countries in the world. This is happening at a time when there is an on-going investment strike by big business in this country. In 2016 big business boasted that they had an estimated cash of close to R600 billion in South African banks that they are not investing.

According to data from the South African Reserve Bank though, as of December 2014, corporate cash balances had reached R1.35-trillion.This amount is the equivalent of 38% of South Africa’s gross domestic product that big business is refusing to invest back into the economy despite retrenchments and economic stagnation. They argue that there is policy uncertainty. This is surprising because the SA government has adopted the National Development Plan, the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plans. We are calling on the business sector in this country to invest in the economy and stop their investment strike.

COSATU will also be using this opportunity to demand action on the implementation of the radical economic transformation so that we can address the unemployment rate of 35%.

COSATU has consistently argued that South Africa needs an alternative development strategy that will be focused on addressing the triple crisis of unemployment, deepening poverty and inequality.

We demand quality economic growth that will be more inclusive. The state must take the lead to transform the legacy of underdevelopment and we want a developmental state to implement a developmental agenda.We need to work on developing an alternative production system that is based on domestic demand and human needs.

Workers want growth that will optimally harness our resources and increase absorption of the labour force into productive employment and income generating activities. We continue to call for a politically governed redistribution of wealth and opportunities from the formal to the non-formal sectors of the economy. COSATU wants government to intervene on behalf of the poor and pushback against the tyranny of the market.

There will be no radical economic transformation while we still have labour brokers that exploit our people. Any radical economic transformation programme should include state ownership or control commanding heights of the economy banks, mines, including the nationalisation of the Reserve bank. We cannot continue as workers to remain enslaved in waged labour, while our economy remains highly monopolised and foreign owned at the hands of a white minority.

There will be no radical economic transformation if government fails to intervene to stem the unfolding de-industrialisation and on-going job losses. We demand the introduction of capital controls to stem the tide of capital flight if we are to have any transformation of the economy. We remain unwavering in our demand for the implementation of the Alliance summit decision calling for the redrafting and fundamental overhaul of the core economic and labour chapter of the NDP. We want the review and withdrawal of the Employment Incentive Tax Act that feeds employers and Independent Power Producers {IPP’s} without a jobs plan.

We are deeply troubled deterioration in health and safety adherence in many workplaces and incidents of violence, especially in the mining sector, where we have seen twenty three workers die since January 2018.This May Day will be an opportunity for workers to mobilise and take a stand against slave working conditions and recommit to continue to fight against slave wages, retrenchments and poor working conditions.

We reiterate our support for the on-going Bus Strike and we are happy that the Department of Labour is trying to reconcile the parties. Government gives these Bus companies subsidies and therefore government cannot be a spectator.

We are troubled by the government delaying tactics in the Public Service Wage Negotiations. We urge unions to maintain their unity and push back against what we consider to be indifference from government.

We support the Municipal workers in their on-going negotiations and all the workers that are currently engaged in wage negotiations across the sectors of the economy. We are calling on employers to take seriously the wage negotiations and give workers decent wage increases.

We shall be using this May Day to mobilise and make sure that workers stand ready to defend their rights and fight for decent wage increases. We shall also be ensuring that workers stand ready to pursue these following campaigns that were adopted by the COSATU CEC:

  • Recruitment, retention and membership service campaign.
  • Provident fund/ social security reform
  • Living wage campaign
  • Banning labour brokers
  • Anti-privatisation
  • Public transport
  • Opposition to e-tolling
  • Anti-corruption campaign
  • National Health Insurance
  • Occupational Health Safety

Lastly, we call on all workers to come out in their numbers to attend May Day celebrations and call on government to declare May Day a non-trading holiday. We warn all those employers with the tendency to intimidate workers from attending May Day rallies to refrain from such tendencies. We urge workers to approach COSATU or our trade union offices if they are facing any kind of intimidation.

This 2018 May Day is first building block towards 2019 General election and the victory of the ANC to the best interest of the working class and the poor. We call our members and their communities to come and celebrate with us.

For the Eastern Cape May Day we are gathering at Njoli Square, KwaZakhele, in Nelson Mandela Metro at 8:00, proceed at 9h00 to KwaZakhle Police Station to handover a memorandum to NMM representative and Department of Labour at 10h00 and thereafter proceed to the Isaac Wolfson stadium where the marches would be addressed by the leadership of the Alliance.