ADDRESS BY SAM SHILOWA COSATU GENERAL SECRETARY ON THE OCCASION OF COSATU's 10TH ANNIVERSARY
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki Comrade Charles Nqakula Leadership of the tripartite alliance Veterans of the trade union movement Honoured guests Comrades and friends
President, John Gomomo and other speakers outlined to you the countless victories scored by workers in the 10 years of COSATU existence and by others before us. In the immediate past when outlining COSATU's vision and challenges, we used to talk about changes we wanted to see implemented when there was a transition to democracy. Now that the future we always talked about has arrived, we realise that the future isn't what it used to be! Many thought that the struggles will end at the point of liberation. Many thought there shall be no more struggles and challenges once Nelson Mandela is released or the ANC wins an election.
Fortunately or unfortunately for us, the transition brings with it new challenges. My task today is to outline those challenges to you.
We should take pride at the fact that we have grown from 460 000 to 1,6 million members in 10 years, consolidated our unions to 19, with regional and local structures. This we have done despite the repressive measures inflicted upon us by the apartheid regime.
They bombed our offices - yet we grew. They detained our staff - yet we grew. They killed some activists - yet we grew and we promise our enemies - the enemies of poor people, of workers, of the unemployed - we will continue to grow in numbers and in power.
No other trade union movement has grown so quickly. However our mission to organise all SA. workers into one union, one industry and into COSATU is not yet over - there are still millions of workers who remain outside of our fold. We must today commit ourselves to reach the 2 million member mark by the next anniversary which is in December 1996.
From today onwards our assertion that every member is an organiser must be turned into reality. Together with our organisers and shop stewards we have a responsibility to recruit more members into our unions. We must start with those who are working with us before moving outside the factory gate.
We have won a significant place in society on the basis of our strong organisation and active and militant membership. From the days of the UDF, through the negotiations and elections, COSATU has become the true voice of the organisation position only on the basis that we retain our organisational strength and power.
We have made significant gains in movement towards winning centralised bargaining. There are however still employers who resist collective bargaining. We intend to use our power and the new LRA to introduce the system of collective bargaining in every industry. 1996 will be a significant year in the battle for centralised bargaining.
A new part of our agenda will also see struggles around the democratisation of the workplace. We will constantly challenge unilateral decision making by management on areas such as investment, disclosure of information and powers and composition of company boards. We also need to redefine duties of middle management. We intend to embark on a series of campaigns against those employers who resist workplace democracy, in particular the disclosure of information.
Our slogan should be: NOW IS THE TIME - BUILD COSATU
Our greatest challenge politically is the ability to defend, consolidate and deepen democracy. Having crushed the apartheid regime and it's surrogates in the April 1994 elections, getting a second mandate to govern in the November local government elections, we must now turn our attention to Kwa-Zulu Natal and the metro- politan areas of Cape Town. We want to declare here and now that we are ready to defeat the National Party, the IFP and their friends and prove to them that their hollow victories was a fluke. We must ensure that all our members regardless of which party they belong to, understand that apartheid created parties are obstructing democracy and the implementation of the RDP.
Under the banner of the ANC and the leadership of President Mandela we will liberate ourselves from those who lead the secessionist and racist campaigns.
The working draft of the new constitution has just been published. Already we can see that some of our hard won gains are under attack. On most issues the ANC is a lone voice. Some of the parties are even proposing to limit or take away our right to strike. They also want to interfere with our internal union affairs. We call on you the members of COSATU and other democratic forces to ensure that our demands are enshrined in the final draft. In particular we should ensure that our rights to join and establish trade unions, to strike, and picket are in the final constitution. The ability of trade unions to conclude closed and agency shops must be defended by the entire alliance and the democratic movement. We must defeat the agenda of those who seek to limit the right to bargain collectively and to fight for automatic extension of the same agreement. Together with the SACP and the ANC we must ensure that employers are not afforded even with a limited recourse to lock us out. There are many other constituencies who are campaigning for the inclusion of socio-economic rights favourable to the working class. They too deserve our support.
COSATU will have to put more emphasis and resources into organising skilled workers and professionals and deepening our organisational strategies among white workers. Through struggles we have made a breakthrough in winning further support. This support spans through to white workers, white collar workers and professionals. The presence of SASBO is a testimony to this influence. Their presence must be the catalyst that propels us to move forward and win even more white workers. COSATU has more than 50 000 white members. We call on the remaining white