/ 15 April 2008

Cosatu calls on govt to intervene in food prices

The government should intervene in food pricing to prevent further increases, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday.

”Government [must] not leave the market to determine the prices, in particular on the basic needs. [They must] introduce regulations,” Cosatu said, adding that companies involved in price-fixing should be criminalised.

It also said load-shedding is not an accident but a ”planned situation by our government to prepare the private sector to invest/buy in the electricity-supply industry”.

It said Sasol should be turned into a parastatal because it is using international prices to sell energy while receiving huge profits. ”Sasol should be the first target to assist in energy and petrol crises we are facing.”

Cosatu also criticised proposed electricity tariff increases and said all the reasons for the proposed increase should be made public. ”We find [it] very shameful for Eskom not to disclose all the reasons for the need to the tariff increase.”

It rejected the continued interest rate ”rocketing on the pretext of targeting the inflation rate”.

Cosatu’s provincial shop stewards’ council will meet on Thursday in Johannesburg to discuss some of these issues as well as prepare for Workers’ Day commemorations on May 1.

Targets for its campaign may include Sasol, Mittal Steel South Africa, the government — especially the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Department of Public Enterprise — and food companies and retail stores, it said. — Sapa