Labour federation Cosatu has threatened to not vote for the ANC in the 2019 national elections if government goes ahead with public sector job cuts and privatisation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
In a statement released following its central executive committee (CEC) meeting in Johannesburg, Cosatu’s general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said, “The special [CEC] has instructed the national office bearers of Cosatu to request an urgent meeting with the ANC top six to communicate a clear and unambiguous message to them that workers will not vote against their interests in the upcoming national elections.”
“We view the plans to retrench workers as an act of ultimate betrayal, especially after the government’s decision to increase VAT after promising not to do so. This makes a mockery of the [tripartite] alliance,” Ntshalintshali added.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian, deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele confirmed that government is planning to sell some of its equity in certain SOEs.
Last week, the M&G reported on restructuring plans by the Ramaphosa administration, which include cutting government’s wage bill trimming the workforce by 30 000 civil servants.
Cosatu’s CEC described plans by the government to enforce “employer initiated voluntary packages” as being the result of the national treasury’s “austerity” policies.
“The national treasury’s austerity measures that have resulted in government permanently closing existing public service vacancies and the recent talk of retrenching thousands of public servants is the last straw for the federation,” the labour federation said.
Cosatu represents over a million workers in different industries, the majority of whom are teachers, nurses and other state employees.
Its central committee bemoaned the government’s privatisation plans, saying, “The privatisation of SOEs that has been proposed by some in government and inside the ANC will adversely affect the state’s capacity to: provide basic services to the poor; provide for infrastructural development; intervene to restructure the economy to ensure growth and employment creation.”
Cosatu believes privatisation will lead to job losses.
“It will foster the casualisation of labour, with more and more workers being hired on limited fixed-term contracts of employment. It will also remove workers from the bargaining units established over many years in the public sector, generally leading to a reduction in incomes, benefits and job security.”