COSATU Policy conference declaration and resolutions

Declaration

The conference took place against the background of the Government's adoption of GEAR, its impact on social spending and failure to create jobs, the deadlock in negotiations over the Basic Condition of Employment Bill at NEDLAC, wide spread poverty amongst the unemployed and the working poor as well as the diminishing role of the state in the productive sector of the economy as well as provision of basic services.

This policy conference;

Noting:

1. The current structure of the South African Labour market

• The structural deficiencies of the South African Labour Market as a direct result of apartheid, oppression and exploitation of the working class.

• The increasing gap in wealth and incomes in our country.

• Lack of viable programmes by management on the restructuring of the workplace and the need for a restructuring agenda based on the needs of the working people.

• The central role of collective bargaining in the struggle for a living wage.

• The need for strategies for minimum wage regulation for both organised and unorganised workers - particularly the most vulnerable, ( farm workers and domestic workers ).

• The attempt by business to roll back our gains on worker rights as is happening on the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill as well as frustrate our right to engage in protest action to promote socio-economic interests.

• The variation model proposed by government in the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill which will allow for downward variation of the same conditions that the government is proposing in order to protect the unorganised and the vulnerable workers. Further, that the government through their insistence that the current round of negotiations are different to the previous negotiations allows business to frustrate the right of workers to engage in protest action.

2. Social Wage

• The absence of social security which is targeted at the majority of the population.

• The escalating cost of medical care to the working class as well as the positions adopted by some doctors and the pharmaceutical industry whose aim is to frustrate the implementation of affordable and accessible health care.

• The apartheid legacy on housing and the current housing policies which relies on the private sector to deliver on the housing programme.

• Current policies whose aim is to privatise all forms of public transport and the intransigence of the Minister of Transport on these issues.

• The important role of retirement funds in the reconstruction of our economy.

• The need for all levels of government to play a central role in the provision of basic infrastructure.

3. Employment Creation

• The legacy of unemployment and the failure of government and business policies to create jobs.

• The declining role of the state in ownership and control of the means of production.

• The investment strike by the private sector in the productive sector of the economy as well as continued retrenchment of workers.

• The need for a regional development strategy that is linked to employment creation in South Africa and the region in general.

Believing

• There is a need to move away from current macro economic policies which stifle employment creation and economic growth, which condemn the poor and the unemployed to perpetual poverty and lead to job losses.

• The need for a social wage in order to alleviate the plight of working people and the poor.

• The need for industrial and economic policies that promote employment creation.

• Negotiations and mass action are not mutually exclusive. As workers we have the right to strike in support of our demands, to demonstrate support and to break a deadlock.

• The RDP objectives remains relevant to transform South Africa.

Hereby declare

1. Closing The Apartheid Wage Gap

• To launch a concerted campaign to close the apartheid wage gap to a ratio of at least 8:1 over an agreed period. This should include a framework which sets targets for wage equity in the private and public sector.

• The proposed Employment Equity statute should be broadened to include mechanisms for monitoring of the closing of the wage gap in each company, between all levels of the workforce including top management.

2. Minimum Wage Regulation

• To campaign for minimum wage settings for the vulnerable and the less organised sectors of the economy using bargained wage levels as yardsticks taking into account the existing inequities and disparity in incomes as well as the struggle for a living wage.

• To develop a strategy to organise the un-organised, in particular farm-workers.

• To urge the government to monitor and to punish those who disregard the agreed to minimum wages.

3. Public Transport

• To campaign for a state owned public transport system that is affordable and accessible.

• To reject the current moves by the government which is aimed at privatisation of public transport.

• To support government moves towards the regulation of the taxi industry, and thereby bring to an end the current violence over routes.

4. Public Housing

• Call for provision of housing on a rental and purchase basis.

• To campaign for the establishment of a housing parastatal to co-ordinate housing delivery and to raise funds.

• A 5% prescribed assets investment dedicated towards housing

• To explore the mechanisms of introducing a levy on profits of companies over a three year period to finance housing.

• To campaign for the establishment of housing brigades in communities to help fast track housing delivery.

• To campaign against high interest rates which make it impossible for most people to afford housing.

5. Retirement Funds

• To ensure the immediate implementation of 50% representation or more on boards of trustees of retirement funds.

• To finalise the establishment of a COSATU administration company as well as the establishment by affiliates of industry wide funds where these do not exist.

• At least 10% of funds assets should be invested in RDP related investments.

• Funds should move away from short term investment to