/ 4 February 2016

Cosatu will take to the streets over Tax Bill

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini praised President Jacob Zuma despite a looming strike.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini praised President Jacob Zuma despite a looming strike.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini has threatened that the trade union federation will strike over President Jacob Zuma’s decision to sign the 2015 Taxation Laws Amendment Bill into law.

But Dlamini, a vocal Zuma supporter, could not resist the temptation to publicly declare his respect for the ANC president. “President Zuma has been leading the ANC with great impetus. We don’t think it was a mistake to elect him as president.”

Dlamini added that since Zuma became president of the country, he has been subjected to all manner of attacks by those who did not like him.

“There is no single president of the ANC who has been attacked the same way as Zuma, but he is still keeping his cool. I want to look at him in a context of leadership collective.”

Cosatu, he said, would not fall into the trap of those who wanted it to disown Zuma.

“People are waiting for the day Cosatu says Zuma must fall. We are not going to be pushed to say that. This has been the agenda unfolding from different quarters,” he said.

The trade union federation, in its central executive committee statement read by general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali, said there is a trust deficit developing between Cosatu and the government under Zuma’s leadership.

The federation said its unhappiness with the government went beyond the provident fund laws and singled out the “neoliberalism offensive” by the government, which preaches austerity measures and also expects workers to pay for the sins of others.

“The offensive is represented by the government’s emerging call for cuts in social spending and the unilateral moderation or even threats to cancel workers’ wage increases to please foreign rating agencies.”

It said the tax amendment would deny workers their right to use their money to improve their lives yet allow pension fund managers and consultants to continue living in opulence using the workers’ money.

“The recent reports pointing to the mismanagement of pension and provident funds and the Unemployment Insurance Fund has widened the trust deficit between workers and the government.”

Before the strike, which will coincide with the implementation of the law on March 1, the federation said it will mobilise workers to picket the National Economic Development and Labour Council offices at lunchtimes, starting on Friday.

Between now and Cosatu’s ordinary central executive committee meeting from February 22 to 24, Cosatu affiliates will also organise protests outside treasury offices. There will also be lunchtime pickets, town-based meetings, nationwide shop steward council meetings and provincial marches.