Cosatu to strike to end ?jobs bloodbath?

SOUTH Africa’s most powerful trade union federation on Tuesday warned that they were planning a nationwide strike against privatisation, to take place in the next four months.

Speaking at a May Day rally in Durban, Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), told workers that Cosatu intended to protest against both privatisation - a key aspect of government economic policy -and what he called job destruction.

Cosatu estimates unemployment in South Africa to be at about 39%.
Vavi also used the platform to dismiss reports that an alliance between Cosatu - with 1.7 million members - the ruling African National Party (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) was dying a natural death.

In its May Day message the SACP condemned the “neo-liberal” restructuring of the economy in South Africa and called for an end to the “job loss bloodbath”.

At a similar rally in Cape Town, Cosatu joined forces with the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu), but Nactu organiser Joe Brown complained that Cosatu had allowed ANC politicians to hijack the joint rally.

Several ANC ministers joined Deputy Minister Jacob Zuma and Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana on the stage at the rally.

Mdladlana told workers that the majority of South Africa’s more than 500 registered trade unions were bogus employee organisations set up by labour consultants.

He said only 3.3 million out of more than 10 million working people in South Africa were organised as union members.

Mdladlana urged workers, particularly farm and domestic workers, to join unions. Only four percent of farm workers were organised, he said.

The government will soon introduce minimum wages for farm and domestic workers, a move that could trigger arbitrary dismissals.

In his speech, Zuma called for unity and said it was important for unions to take advantage of the fact that government was sensitive to the plight of workers. - AFP

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