THE ADDRESS OF SACCAWU PRESIDENT TO THE SACCAWU 9TH NATIONAL CONGRESS HELD ON THE 15TH – 18TH OCTOBER 2008 AT THE BIRCHWOOD HOTEL IN BOKSBURG
On behalf of the SACCAWU National Office Bearers and the 147 000 (One Hundred and Forty Seven Thousand) members I would like to extend our revolutionary greeting and a warm welcome to the delegates to this historic and important workers parliament and hope that you are not going to disappoint us but engage in robust debates in shaping the direction of this movement of Comrades Emma Mashinini, the late Jan Khaile and the former leadership that built this organization through sweat and tears. Indeed you are expected to pronounce on the challenges that confronting us at political, socio-economic and organizational level. Our primary role is to ensure that first and foremost we better the working condition of our members. While this is an electing SACCAWU 9th National Congress as part of the principle of organizational democracy, your focus must be on building our movement and our alliance partners structures
We must from the onset acknowledge the presence of the former leadership of this movement. Within the same token extend our welcome and revolutionary greetings on behalf of the SACCAWU NOBs and the 147 000 (One Hundred and Forty Seven Thousand) members. We hope they will use their wisdom in making interventions whenever we are going wrong.
We must also extend our revolutionary greeting and warm welcome to all the staff members of our movement whom we regard as part of our revolutionary intelligentsia with some having committed class suicide and subjected themselves to the dictatorship of the proletariat. We hope that you implement your revolutionary task of assisting the delegates in this workers parliament in taking informed decisions. It is important for you as staff members to ensure that we discard of the dependency syndrome by ensuring that the delegates think and deal with issues independently.
We must also take this opportunity to extend our revolutionary greeting to the leadership of our ANC and all its formation. We must take this opportunity to inform the delegates that we have invited the man of the people Comrade President Gedleyehlekisa Jacob Zuma the President of the country as of April 2009 who will be addressing the workers parliament on what is to be done? The delegates to this workers parliament are instructed to listen to him attentively as he will be giving a directive on broader political issues of importance being how do we ensure that the movement of the people the ANC does not only receive the overwhelming victory in the 2009 Election instead receive 100% of the votes from the citizen of the country.
We must again take this opportunity upfront to extend our revolutionary greetings and welcome the leadership of the SACP the revolutionary vanguard party of the working class and its formation. We must inform the delegates that we have invited Comrade Blade Nzimande one of the tested communist whose task will be that of also giving us the political and revolutionary view around the challenges that are confronting our Alliance at a political, economic and organizational level. We must take note of the fact that all these challenges can be resolved by ensuring that the mode of production must be in the hands of the workers therefore we should Build Socialism Now.
One of our revolutionary thinkers and diehard communist and a man of the people Comrade Chris Hani in his response in one of The African Communist, On What Is Socialism? Simply defines SOCIALISM as a mode of production that ensures the following to name a few:
- 1. There is no poverty and employment.
- 2. There is shelter/housing for all citizens.
- 3. There is education for all.
- 4. There is food for all citizens
We must again take this opportunity to welcome the leadership of our Federation led by our President Comrade Sidumo Dlamini. Of importance is the fact that we have invited one of our revolutionary intelligentsia Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi who will be outlining the task ahead of us particularly after the ANC Polokwane Conference, The recalling of the former ANC President, the appointment of the President of the Republic of South Africa who will act until the elections in the coming year. Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi the worker’s parliament is confronting you just like Comrade Vladimir Lenin you are expected to tell us “What is to be done?
We would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the leadership of COSATU affiliates as part of the revolutionary intelligentsia we are challenging them not to only attend the opening session but be part of this historic workers parliament and participate freely as observers with no voting rights.
We would also like to extend our welcome and revolutionary greetings to the representatives of our sister unions from the continent particularly those from Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Egypt, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. We hope they will share their continental experience around the struggle of workers.
We would further like to welcome and extend our revolutionary greetings to the representatives from our International Trade Secretariat at International and Continental level UNI and IUF and hope that they will share their international experience with the delegates at this workers parliament.
Lastly we would like to welcome the representative from our SETAs particularly those from the THETA and your contributions to the success of this National Congress will not go unnoticed. This include all the representatives from service providers particularly those that contributed in ensuring that the administrative and logistics of this National Congress are a success.
Comrades delegates this 9th SACCAWU National Congress is held at a time when there has been to many political events before and after the ANC Polokwane Conferences. Instead of making my individual political address I have opted to share with the delegates the position of the CEC of our Federation around all this issues.
1. POST POLOKWANE POLITICAL SITUATION
The ANC Conference held in December 2007 which is now almost ten months has come and gone. The COSATU Central Executive Committee held on the 1st -3rd September 2008 resolved that our overall responsibility is to defend the democratic gains of workers made, including the left-leaning shift in policy emanating from the Polokwane resolutions. These gains include, but are not limited to:
a) A constructive environment for engagement and policy debates, as opposed to the acrimonious public spats of the past, and an end to the use of labels to silence political opponents within the Alliance.
b) A progressive policy platform from Polokwane, the January 8th Statement, ANC Lekgotla, and Alliance Summit.
c) A process to develop an Alliance Program of Action that, if managed strategically, will go a long way to meet our demand for an Alliance Pact or Alliance agreement on governance.
d) The Alliance Summit decision that the Alliance as a whole is a strategic political centre and the agreement that the Alliance will form part of the deployment committees, thereby addressing a demand of COSATU. This principled agreement is absolutely important even though it must still be given a practical meaning in all processes.
e) Opening of the economic debates, this will lead to the Alliance Economic Conference on 2-3 October 2008. COSATU now participate in a number of key ANC NEC sub committee and its ability to influence government policy has accordingly increased.
f) Opening of a space to debate issues without any fear by all citizen and organizations. Regrettably this debate is largely not focused on answering a question – what is to be done to address the high unemployment, poverty and growing inequalities.
g) The masses of the people have used the space to agitate and mobilize around their issues as demonstrated by the increased participation in the recent ongoing COSATU campaigns to protect and enhance the standard of living of all South Africans.
h) Parliamentarians are reasserting their authority and increasingly holding the executives to account on behalf of the population. The days of sycophancy belong to the past. This is a completely new environment, with MPs meeting their constitutional obligation for a separation of powers between the executives and parliament even in the context of the ANC being the governing party. This has strengthened democracy.
i) The dismissal of non-performing premiers, which hopefully will go a long way to communicate a message that in future deployment will no longer based on loyalty alone but on capacity to deliver. While there has been some replacement it must be noted that there was no sufficient consultation on replacement.
This workers parliament particularly delegates to this important and historic 9th SACCAWU s called upon to defend the said gains as outlined by the COSATU Central Executive Committee.
2. SUPPORT FOR THE ANC PRESIDENT
The said COSATU Central Executive Committee meeting correctly made pronouncement on the support for the ANC President Comrade Gedleyehlekisa Jacob Zuma. The said resolve was guided by the following to name a few;
a) The believe that if there was a case against Comrade Jacob Zuma he should have been charged way back in 1999 and/or 2000 when the NPA started to leak information in the media that he was being investigated. Through the delay in charging him whilst effectively conducting a media trial through systematic leaks to the media, NPA grossly acted unfairly and prejudiced ANC President in the eyes of many. The fact that the state took so many years to investigate whilst leaking information to the media made many to start asking basic question – why is the man not being charged so that he may have the opportunity to defend himself in the court of law? This unfair treatment made workers argue correctly and consistently that justice delayed is justice denied.
b) The believe that it was wrong for the investigators to launch a media trial by leaking information in their hands to media instead of approaching courts to seek conviction. The media have seized on these leaks to create the impression that he is already guilty as charged.
c) The believe that is was wrong for the NPA Director (Bulelani Ngcuka) flanked by the then Justice Minister (Penuell Maduna) to effectively declare comrade Jacob Zuma guilty of corruption when he said in 2003 that there was a “prima facie” case for charging, but that he would not be charged because the case would be unwinnable.
d) The believe that it was wrong not to charge Comrade Jacob Zuma alongside Shabir Shaik, considering that the two were supposed to be in cahoots.
e) The believe that it was wrong for Comrade Jacob Zuma to be dismissed as the Deputy President before he has been convicted in the court of law.
The CEC further resolved that when Judge Chris Nicholson delivers his judgement in Pietermaritzburg on the 12th September 2008 on Jacob Zuma`s application for stay of prosecution, all CEC members will join the mass protest and that protest should be held around the country at NPA offices etc.
3. JUDGE CHRIS NICHOLSON `S JUDGEMENT
The Leadership of the ALLIANCE including their membership of the ANC, SACP and COSATU in their thousands attended the Judgement Day in Pietermaritzburg on the 12th September 2008. The Judge delivered one of the historic judgement in our country. COSATU summarized the legal implication of Judge Chris Nicholson’s judgement as follows:
a) The court found that the NPA was obliged to hear representations from Zuma prior to taking a decision to prosecute him as this obligation forms part of the audi alteram partem (hear the other side) principle.
b) The court found that there was political meddling in the process leading to the decision to prosecute Comrade Jacob Zuma. In coming to this conclusion, the judge analyzed the pattern in the behaviour of political interference, pressure.
c) As far as the conduct of President Thabo Mbeki is concerned, the court found his decision to dismiss Comrade Jacob Zuma as the Deputy President of the Country, based on the judgement against Comrade Shabir Shaik, to be unfair and unjust given the fact that Comrade Zuma was not given a chance to defend himself in the court of law. However the court found that such a decision was not illegal as the President had constitutional power to do so. The court alluded to the fact that any improper interference with prosecuting authority in the exercise of its duties and function is a serious offence and any person found guilty thereof will be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 year or both fine and imprisonment.
d) All of these findings, it should however be noted, were made in the context of determining the “applications to strike out” and to determine whether the allegation of political meddling made by Comrade Jacob Zuma was legitimate. In this context, the judge could not make a finding of their guilt or otherwise.
e) The judge’s view was that one of the ways of securing independence of the NDPP is to ensure that the latter is appointed in the same way as judges are appointed. COSATU believes that there is merit in this but this needs extensive comparative research to investigate how other jurisdictions deal with the appointment of a similar to the NDDP.
Without sounding more triumphalant or blowing our own trumpet the inference s and the judgement by Judge Chris Nicholson has vindicated and/or confirmed the believes of COSATU as captured by the CEC.
It must be put on record that the former President of the Country Comrade Thabo Mbeki and NPA had made an application for leave of appeal against the judgement of Judge Chris Nicholson.
It must be further noted that Professor on Constitutional Law made a critic around the said judgement but this was dealt a blow by the General Secretary of SASAWU Comrade Mthimkulu.
4. THE RECALL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF S.A.
The ANC National Executive Committee issued a statement on the 20th September 2008 after having deliberated for two days on the Pietermaritzburg Court Judgement on the 12th September 2008 by Judge Chris Nicholson.
In terms of the said statement the ANC NEC focused on the implication of the said judgement for the movement and the people as a whole. The ANC NEC felt that the judgement had a profound impact on many aspects of our legal system and obviously also had an impact on .the affairs of the ANC
The ANC NEC asserted that the most important task as a revolutionary movement is the stability of our country and the unity and cohesion of the ANC. The NEC acknowledged that our movement has been going through a trying period and it is determined to heal the rifts that may exist
In the light of this, and after a long and difficult discussion, the ANC has decided to recall the President of the Republic before his term of office expires.
There has been different responses to the decision of the ANC NEC to recall the President of the country but COSATU has welcomed this decision. Having gone through all the responses from different directions I would to isolate and /or summarize the one of one of the revolutionary thinkers of our federation Comrade Fikile “Slovo” Majola the General Secretary of NEHAWU who wrote the following on the 23rd September 2008: I quote:
“Firstly, the principle of recall – removing an elected official before the end of the term has become an entrenched radical democratic practice within our movement and should be embraced by our society as a whole. The noises from some opposition parties against the recall might have to do with the implication this shall have in their organization. Opposition parties have little to benefit from a strong ANC in making and they are worried that they are poised to loose the forthcoming elections.
“Comrade Fikile “Slovo” Majola went further to say I quote: “In recent times the ANC has applied these recall principle in a number of cases involving mayors, premiers and now State President. We believe that this principle will go a long way in complementing representative democracy, by ensuring greater commitment to organizational mandate and policies and greater accountability – something that was not obvious under Comrade Former President Mbeki administration. We are deeply reminded hear how the economic policy call GEAR was introduced.”
We conveniently and consciously isolated this response of Comrade Fikile Majola on the issue of the recall of the former President of the Republic as we fully agree with him particularly as he is one of our own and a tested committed cadre of the movement.
5. ON THE CABINET RESIGNATIONS
It is a well known fact that some ministers decided to resign after the pronouncement of the ANC NEC to recall former President of the Republic Comrade Thabo Mbeki. It is also a known fact that the former President of the Republic publicized the a list of Cabinet Ministers who handed resignation to him this included the Finance Minister at that time, and this resulted in this pronouncement affecting the markets. This was done after Comrade Gedleyehlekisa Jacob Zuma as the President of the ANC and awaiting President of the Republic of South Africa has made a commitment to all of them that they will not be replaced and request that they must not resign.
We must again take a snap of what Comrade Fikile “Slovo” Majola has to say about this I again quote:
“The resignation of some Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers with no intention of being available for re-appointment confirms what we have been saying as the union for a number of years now. Most members of the former President of the Republic Cabinet acted as a faction within the ANC. Their recent actions are not different from other actions in the past, which sought to undermine the policy directives of their organization – ANC. They refused to heed the ANC call to stay put in order to pay allegiance not to the movement to an individual.
This factionalist behavior that is behind what we call the “1996 Class Project” This is a project which aimed to replacing our mass based ANC (and the Alliance it leads) as a centre of policy-decision making, with state-technocratic control for the benefit of the elite and big-business.”
We can again agree more with Comrade Fikile “Slovo” Majola more on his response on the issue of resignation of Cabinet Ministers.
6. ON THE NEW POLITICAL PARTY
At the time of writing this report there has been rumours of the need to form a new political party to challenge the ANC during the General Election. This myth has been covered broadly by electronic and print media. Several political analyst have made comments on the said issue but while their comments are noted we have our own analyst of whom their comments can represent our interests. One of them is again Comrade Fikile “Slovo” Majola who had this to say on the issue I again quote:
“Throughout the history of the ANC there have always been others who sought to factionalize or divide our movement. Some decided to break away from our movement in order to weaken it. These attempts took place, for example, after the adoption of the FREEDOM CHARTER in 1955 and after the Morogoro Conference in 1969. But this giant movement became even stronger after these occurrences. It is expected that after the Polokwane Conference of 2007, there will be others as well. But the movement will prevail because it is bigger than individuals within and outside ANC.”
Comrade Steyn Speed on the 30th September 2008 had to say the following on the issue I also quote:
“The ANC is a movement with a rich political tradition and an unparalleled legacy that other parties can only wish for. It is the only party with the vision, plan and best policies to ensure the creation of a better life for all.
The ANC takes notes of the report in the media on the imminent formation of a new party. These reports have no face to them and are denied by people reported to be spearheading such formation.
The practice of multi-party democracy accommodates the formation of new parties. In democracies around the world it is normal occurrences in the hustle and bustle of politics, and South Africa is no exception. Our constitution guarantees the freedom of association. The ANC will not be distracted from its historic mission and on its immediate task as the leading party in government.
Comrade Jacob “Gedleyehlekisa” Zuma in his statement on the 3rd October 2008 had this to say I QOUTE: We carry a weighty responsibility, to honour through our actions the proud tradition of struggle that characterized our Alliance over decades. Most importantly, we carry a responsibility to the people of this country, and the generations that will follow, to lead a national democratic revolution that will banish from our society all forms of discrimination, oppression and deprivation.
With the statement from Comrades Fikile “Slovo” Majola, Steyn Speed and President Jacob Zuma why must we worry ourselves about the rumours of a new Political Party?
7. PREPARATION FOR THE NATIONAL ELECTION
Lastly the SACCAWU National Congress is held almost six months before the National General Election. The assessment of the COSATU Central Executive Committee is that the biggest challenge is to change the mood around. The COSATU CEC resolved that:
a) It reiterates its policy that we will campaign for ANC decisive victory on the basis of the detailed analysis of the left shift in policy and politics of the country.
b) The ANC and Alliance must now begin to focus on the bread and butter issues of the voters and close the chapter of divisive debates.
c) We need to take a strong line to ensure the Federation `s views are incorporated into the ANC elections manifesto.
d) We must work hard to ensure the success of the registration date scheduled for the 8th – 9th November 2008.
e) The federation must discuss the issue of deployment openly, including possible loss of leadership.
The Statement of Comrade President Jacob Zuma on the 3rd October 2008 had the following to say I quote:
“We must not be diverted from immediate task and urgent challenges that face us. We must all focus on supporting our government in the important tasks of fighting poverty, crime, delivering essential basic services to the people as well as our efforts to create a development state.”
“Together with our Allies we have an urgent and important obligation to contest the democratic election next year. This is a significant task, when we approach these election we must approach them as a united and solid force with determination to deliver an overwhelming democratic revolution that will banish from our society all forms of discrimination, oppression and deprivation.”
Our members are ready to ensure that the movement of our people achieves a minimum of 100% during the 2009 General Elections
It is also important to mention that COSATU has produced a document called “SEIZING THE MOMENT: Consolidating and unifying the democratic forces around progressive platform for change. This document deals with amongst others:
- New Opportunities and challenges confronting us.
- Programme to unify the Alliance and the Mass Democratic Movement.
- Rebuilding political culture based on principle of selflessness and confronting foreign traditions.
- Constructing a Developmental State.
- Reunifying the movement and build a stronger organization.
- Understanding the Polokwane Economic Programme – Building Alliance Consensus
- Finally what is to be done and the way forward.
This document was adopted as a working document of the Federation in engagement with the Alliance Partner whilst it will still be fine tuned by the CEC.
Lastly the Secretariat Report has made a brought analysis of the current political situation confronting our movement and the broader Alliance Partner. They have also made an analysis of the political events pre and post Polokwane. They have dealt with the resolutions the of the ANC National General Council held in Tshwane, The COSATU 9th National Congress held in September 2006, The SACP 12th National Congress and the ANC 52nd National Conference held in Polokwane amongst others.
We are aware that our regions have been able to submit political resolutions to this historic SACCAWU National Congress. What is important is for these workers parliament to reflect and adopt resolutions that will address the previous and current challenges that are confronting us in doing so we are also expected to take queue from the decision of the federation and that of the entire Alliance Partners.
1. ON THE ORGANISATIONAL FRONT
Comrade delegate in terms of Clause: 188.8.131.52 of our Constitution of SACCAWU I am expected as the President to give report to the National Congress, Central Executive Committee and National Executive Committee. My report should not be confused with that of the Secretariat and the National Treasurer as mine is in a form of an address with its importance being that of taking a snap shot of the challenges that confront the Union broadly.
It is important to mention that we have spend a lot of money from the subscription of our members in convening this workers parliament and the outgoing NOBs and our members will be highly disappointed if this 9th National Congress does not achieve the purpose it was convene for. The primary task of this National Congress is to deal with all challenges that confront our movement, our Federation, the ANC and the SACP at an organizational, political and economic level.
I will always Qoute Comrade Vladimar Lenin on Trade Union in response to Comrade Trosky when he said I Qoute: “Not being a state organization, the trade union resort mainly to persuasion. They educate the masses in the spirit of socialist awareness, help them to gain an intimate knowledge of the tasks of building socialism and enlist their active participation in it. All this indeed “a school of administration” a school of economic management, a school of communism”, Lenin concludes.”
The question that needs to be asked is whether we are indeed “ a school of administration” a school of economic management, a school of communism and in doing so we need to start by making an assessment of the basic requirement for a revolutionary and transformative trade union.
The Secretariat Report to this National Congress has identified acknowledging that our vision will be continuously be reviewed based on the objective and subjective material conditions existing at each time isolated six critical objectives for this workers parliament as:
- Rapid membership growth
- Enhancing the fighting capacity of the Union
- Extending our influence in the sector and beyond
- Contribution to and asserting the hegemony of the working class striving to continuously tilt the balance of forces in favour of the Working Class.
- Strengthening the ideological capacity of the working class and in that context contributing towards production of organic intellectuals who are grounded in the ideology of the working class.
- Combating negative tendencies like individualism, xenophobic, racism, greed, patronage, selfishness and sexism.
We are aware that the delegates to this workers parliament are expected to implement one of the principles of organizational democracy in that they are to elect leadership but this must not shadow the primary objective of this National Congress as identified by the Secretariat Report. Failure for us to achieve the said objective would suggest that we have thrown our members funds into a drain.
2. PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATIONAL DEMOCRACY
Having dealt with one the principles of organizational democracy one has to revisit the third edition of Umrabulo which provided the basis for the debates to the December 1997 National Conference as it has relevance to this workers parliament.
2.1. ELECTED LEADERSHIP
Leadership of the Union is elected at all level, and re-elections are held at regular intervals and in terms of our Constitution this is done every three years.
No single individual including myself must become irreplaceable. In addition, elected leadership can be recalled before the end of their term if they are not disciplined or transgressed the Constitution of our Union. The shop stewards according to our constitution have the right take part in elections and be elected to leadership positions, any committees, structures, commissions or as delegates to local, regional and national structures of the Union guided by the SACCAWU Constitution.
2.2. COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP
SACCAWU is expected to have a leadership collectives, instead of a single leader, at all levels of the organization be it LECs, RECs, NECs and CEC. The Constitution set out powers of each of the said structures and they are expected to work as a collective.
This means that there must be continuous and ongoing consultation on matters affecting the Union and its members. In addition it, that all shop stewards must take responsibility to explain and ensure the implementation of decisions taken by these collectives. Collective leadership also means that leadership skills, experience and knowledge must be shared.
The structures of SACCAWU are set up in such a way that it allows for meetings at regular intervals. The Local Shop Steward Councils are the main and basic structure of our movement and shop stewards participate through their establishment members mandates on a weekly or monthly basis.
Furthermore the LSSC is represented at the REC while the region is represented at the NEC and CEC. The locals represented through elected delegates at the Regional Congress and National Congresses.
The SECRETARIAT REPORT has painted that makes it is quite evident that most of our local structures are ineffective and our structures are not used to ensure adequate consultation by leadership and/or shop steward.
The delegates must understand that consultation is not an end in itself. We have consultation to ensure that there is popular support in SACCAWU for all decisions and policies taken, that our members and structures understand such decisions and policies and are able to explain them to others and to the public in general.
Consultation is also part of ensuring that as trade union we are accountable to our members and the society in general.
2.4. MANDATES, ACCOUNTING AND REPORTING
It is important to mention that our members and structures must provide elected delegates with mandates to guide them when represent the structures of the organization at all levels. We expect our members and shop stewards to think for themselves, to be able to raise and debate their ideas at anytime, and to be able to take initiatives to further the challenges confronting our movement.
We expect leadership to lead our movement ensuring that we respond to challenges and that we implement our resolutions and programs. However, when there is a need for change in strategy or policy, we expect leadership leadership and elected representatives to consult and obtain fresh mandates on the new direction.
Reporting back, whether as REC, NEC and CEC delegates to our respective LSSC and RECs as elected leaders to the said structures is an important part of democracy. The Union through its Constitution has mechanism to ensure that delegates report back and those that have mandated them so that they are able to make assessment of the decision taken in the structures of the movement. It is important to mention that Information is a source of power and if not shared can undermine the democratic process.
We must avoid a situation where we regard certain information that relates to the organization as being confidential
2.5 CRITICISM AND SELF-CRITICISM
Comrade we do not believe that any our members and leadership are beyond criticism. Our trade union policies and strategies are not beyond criticism. This means that we must have regular evaluations, questions must be asked and constructive criticism encouraged. We also have a cadreship and leadership that is humble and prepared to listen to constructive criticism. We must avoid using this principle to settle personal vendetta because there is a difference between gossiping about someone at his absence and constructively criticizing a comrade at his presence.
Part of being a comrade and a cadre means an ongoing process of self-criticism evaluation, learning and self-improvement. Criticism should be aimed at building and individual and at improving our strategies, tactics and policies as a trade union.
2.6 DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM
Lastly, Union believes on the principle of democratic centralism meaning the decisions of the majority prevail. After debates and discussions in this Regional Congress on a particular issue and a decision is taken democratically in terms of the Constitution that decision is binding on all the delegates and those they represent. Even if an individual has motivated or voted for a different position, that individual will have the responsibility to implement and defend the decision that has been taken.
Having outlined the said principles of organizational democracy one has to briefly touch on the other issues that are confronting our organization.
3. ON CAMPAINGS
The Union has finally launched its long outstanding campaign against one of the barbaric companies called Woolworth. This campaign was formally launched with a march to Woolworth Market Street on the 29th August 2008. Majority of our members went into the street of Johannesburg on the said day.
The company was issued with a forty eight hour notice and the actual national industrial action commenced on the 17th September 2008.
The NOBs and the Union in general declared that the Woolworth Industrial Action is a Political Strike guided by the following resolves that:
- The majority of our members at Woolworth mainly youth accompanied by the veterans went on the streets of all the towns and cities demanding for the stop order facilities and access to be granted to the Union of their choice being SACCAWU.
- 2. The said Woolworths SACCAWU members sacrificed their meager salaries and participated in the picket lines for more than three weeks for the reasonable demand that Woolworth must deduct subscriptions from their monthly pay packet and this must be paid to the Union of their choice being SACCCAWU.
- The said SACCAWU members are calling upon the company to grant access to the Union to freely enter into the Woolworth stores to conduct union business to enable it to recruit and afford the employees to exercise their fundamental right of freedom of choice and association to join the Union the Union that they have chosen being SACCAWU.
- That SACCAWU as the Union of their choice will be able to address the super exploitation that they are going through a final Collective Agreement that will enable the Union to deal with the principle of “flexi- timers and overall working condition.
- The said strike relates to the SACCAWU members at Woolworth implementing the SACCAWU 8th National Congress and the Bargaining Conference resolutions around our campaign against this barbaric and intransigent comapny
It must be acknowledged that the approach of the company is guided by the principle decision that it has adopted guided by Walmartisation, which suggest that there must not be a free trade union environment within the company establishment. The norm must be that of management and employee direct communication.
The introduction of the Union within Woolworth therefore becomes a major threat as it will interfere with the fundamental principle of the company of a union free environment.
Comrade through the pressure you have exerted victory is now around the corner. We have been engaging with the company through the mediation process under auspice of the CCMA and the good news is that we have broken the arrogance of the company in that they were forced to accede to the advisory award of the Commissioner in that:
- 1. They now accept that the parties must verify the membership forms under the auspices of the CCMA.
- 2. They now accept that immediately after SACCAWU has proven that it has 25% members of the total employment the Union will be granted stop order facilities.
- 3. They now accept that immediately after SACCAWU has proven that it has 30% members of the total employment the Union will be given access to the Woolworth for recruitment of members. This will be step forward in ensuring that we achieve a 50% + 1% membership.
- 4. They are anxious that the SACCAWU members must return back to work as early as Monday.
The said news is that the company has put certain conditions that make it difficult for the Union to sign the agreement in that to name a few:
- They want all the Woolworth members who have joined the strike after the 1st September 2008 to be subjected to a Kangaroo Court under the auspices of TOKISO Dispute Resolution. The role of the said Kangaroo Court to interview members about whether they have not been intimidated harassed and victimized in signing the joining forms of the Union of their choice.
- The company is not willing to agree on the date of the actual verification which the Union has agreed that it must be commence immediately after agreement.
- The company wants the Union to agree after it has achieved 25% of the verified membership the company reserve its right to terminate the agreement within thirty days after it has discovered that the Union membership is below the said number.
Delegates the said industrial action has now gone for gone for close to thirty days and there is no sign of a settlement as the company while trying to appease the world with its propaganda campaign that it has an open policy that allows freedom of association it has budgeted millions of rand to ensure that the Union and its members exercise the said right by continuously changing the goal post.
There was a march in Durban on the 8th September 2008 and Northern Region and Wits held their General Meetings on the 9th September 2008 and workers voted with their feet in rejecting the conditions that are put by the company.
Some members have gone to an extend that they will not go back to work until the verification exercise has been completed between the parties and these is a political challenge to this workers parliament.
The weakness that has been identified by the National Striking Committee jointly with the Regional Striking Committee of Wits and Northern Region can be summarized as follows:
a) The failure of some regions in particular Western Cape to submit written reports to Head-Office. It must be noted that our Western Cape region is one of those that majority of the Woolworth stores.
b) The conscious decision by electronic media not to cover the said industrial action and you are well aware this has become a major concern to our members.
c) The current situation is the tendency of print media to concentrate on the negatives that relates to the alleged conduct of our members at the picket lines.
d) The conscious decision adopted by the company not to respect any award granted by the CCMA including their tactical decision to reject the CCMA advisory award.
e) The failure of members in our sector to go on action in support of the Woolworth SACCAWU members on the action of the 3rd October 2008 this include those from my company Metcash. We must however appreciate the role played by the Pick`n Pay National Conference delegates who disrupted their Conference and join the picket line on this day. We must further acknowledge some of the shop stewards who are always joining the picket line and financial contributing to the members. We must also appreciate the presence of the shop stewards from different companies that joined the march in Durban.
f) While the has been technical and legal problems related to the Section 66 Notice send to the Local, Regional and National Companies there was nothing stopping shop stewards participating in the said action.
g) The complains by our members that while the Federation and Party its formations have public declared support for this industrial action and the consumer boycott they are not visible in practical support of their struggle. We must however appreciate the fact that Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi has addressed the Johannesburg General meeting and has a made a commitment to communicate the plight of our members to the company. We must also appreciate the commitment of Comrade Blade Nzimande to do the same. We must also appreciate the practical support that we have received from SAMWU in most of our regions just like always.
h) The failure of most of the affiliates to make a public statement to pledge support to the Woolworth workers on strike except the resolution adopted by the NUM NEC. We have noted the critical letter that was written by the COSATU Provincial Secretary on this industrial action.
Having made the assessment of the weakness within the said Woolworth strike we believe that there is need for a political intervention of this workers parliament. As already mentioned the industrial action has now gone for more than thirty days and there is still a major struggle ahead of us. We believe that the intervention must take the following:
a) A special debate or discussion by the delegates on the first day of the National Congress.
b) There must be a Special Declaration around the political intervention of the 9th SACCAWU National Congress on this political strike.
c) Finally the 9th National Congress must decide on the day that the delegates will join either a march or picket lines.
We aware that this might disrupt the National Congress program, but we cannot fold our arms while ROME is burning in front of us. What is importance is that it will be politically suicidal if these workers parliament fails the said Woolworth SACCAWU members.
4. ON THE COMPOSITION OF REGIONAL DELEGATES TO CONGRESS
We have identified a disturbing trend of some Locals challenging the number of the delegates allocated to them by either the ROBs or REC. It must be noted that the amendment to the SACCAWU Constitution were adopted at the 1999 National Congress since then and before we have never encountered any objection on how the delegates to the National Congresses have been decided upon by the regions. However this does not suggest that the locals cannot challenge the said allocation of delegates to the National Congress. The problem is the manner in which the said challenges have been dealt with. We must firstly deal with the Constitutional requirement around the composition to the National Congress:
In doing so we must be directed by Clauses 21.2.1. , 21.2.2. of the Constitution which reads as follows:
The National Congress shall be composed of the National Office Bearers , delegates from each Region elected by each Local on the basis of one delegate on the basis of one delegate per 500 Members or part thereof and the Chairperson of the National Gender Structure.
All REC members of a Local shall be amongst the Local` s delegates.
It must be noted that the delegation to National Congress are decided by the Region guide by the said mentioned clauses:
It must be noted that if you apply Clause 21.2.1. in isolation with Clause 21.2.2 of the Constitution the Region might and up in a situation where the ROBs, the locals that are having less than 500 members and the Gender Regional Worker delegates not being represented at the National Congress.
The NEC which acted as the Credential Committee of the CEC in terms of Clause: 21.2.3. of the Constitution of the Union gave the following guidelines in deciding on the Regional delegates to the National Congress:
- The Regional Executive Committee members which includes the ROBs
- The Regional CEC delegates and the worker Gender Co-ordinator.
- The LEC and LOBs depending on the size of the region.
This suggested that the regions are empowered to decide on the delegation guided by the said principles and the entire Clause 21.2. of the Constitution. The NOBs could not be expected to entertain and/or take a position on the grievances raised by the locals around delegation as this has always been the competence of the regional leadership. What was disturbing was the fact that the said grievances were raised after most of the practical arrangements to the National Congress have been dealt with.
5. ON THE ROLE OF THE SHOP STEWARD COUNCIL
Our observation is that there seem to be a subtle competition amongst some of the National Shop Steward Councils. This tendency become evident during the approach to the Local launches, Regional Congress and the National Congress. This tendency has to be confronted as it has a potential of creating some divisions amongst workers. This will also make it difficult for the comrades to implement the fundamental principle of “An injury to one is an injury to all”
It must be important to mention that the Company Councils are a Constitutional structure of the Union and their powers and/or functions are outline Clause: 8 of the said SACCAWU Constitution.
It is important to note that there is nothing wrong with company councils adopting whatever resolution on matters of the Union but it is important to ensure that the said decisions are utilized to influence the decision of the respective SACCAWU Locals and Regions.
6. ON SERVICE PROVIDERS
The 8th SACCAWU National Congress took a resolution around the issue of Service Providers. At that time the National Congress called upon the all National Companies to declare which companies that they are utilizing as service.
Having gone through the resolution submitted by SACCAWU Wits it is quite evident that there has been some problems in implementing the 8th SACCAWU National Congress decision on this matter.
7. ON THE SNPF (UNDER CURATORSHIP)
Comrades it is now more than six years since the SACCAWU National Provident Fund has been put under curatorship. During the SACCAWU Metcash National Shop Steward Council meeting held in June 2006 we were informed that the Financial Service Board has agreed on the formation of the ‘shadow board” whose task in the main was to normalize the fund.
Unfortunately this never happened until March 2008 when the High Court decided to establish what is now called the SNPF Board of Management to deal with the so-called transitional period. The said Board of Management consists of the following:
Amos Mothapo, Edwirn Chaane, Moses Makahanya, Bheki Ntahslintshali, Thabo Thipe, Themba Mfeka and Ms. Dlamini.
The said Board of management was supposed to manage the affairs of the fund under the supervision of Mr. Mostert the Curator. There are major problems encountered by the said Board of Management in performing their duties which will be reported to the National Congress separately.
8. ON THE FINANCES OF THE UNION
The National Treasurer will be dealing with the broad financial state of the finances of the organization. One has also identified different Resolutions dealing with the finances of the Union. I hope this will be discussed robustly by the delegates to this National Congress
Of major importance is that our annual budget is always based on a negative this being as result of the current liabilities that we are always having in the main those that are related to legal fees. One cannot rule out that SACCAWU is one of the fighting unions and the bulk of its funds are utilized for the activities.
We forced to postpone the National Congress from September to October due to the numbers of reason some amongst all were that:
- 1. We underestimated the financial implication of the local re-launches and the re-alignment of the Regional Congress.
- 2. The attachment of our bank account related to the KAREN Beef strike.
- 3. The award granted by the High Court around the outstanding legal fees of Mr. Mervin Dendy.
The said amounts were paid from the budget which had a deficit. It is also important to mention that we have spent thousands of rand for the Woolworth Political Strike and this is going to have a major effect to the finances of the union as this was not budgeted for and the incoming NOBs must be on the alert.
9. ON THE SACCAWU REGION
There are still major organizational weaknesses in most all our regions. The CEC at a certain time established the Free State/Northern Commission. This Commission while having addressed most the problems including having convened the most successful Regional Congress it still expected to finalize some of the outstanding issues.
The SACCAWU NOBs and CEC must be task with the responsibility of making an assessment of all SACCAWU Regions if need be establish a commission to deal with the weakness of the said region.
10. SOCIO ECONOMIC ISSUES
The Secretariat Report dealt with the Socio Economic Issues but what has been of major concern was the following developments this year.
a) The soaring of food prices in South Africa and Internationally. In South Africa at a certain stage the price White bread went up nearly 20%, a 5kg of Maize Meal has went up 22.3%, Cooking oil has went up 51%, milk and eggs have went up 28% to name a few of the basic food price increase. The average inflation rate on food escalated to 14.6% in one year.
These food prices have risen far higher than wage increase of employed workers and far ahead of social grants. Workers suffered much more than the wealthy from food inflation as they spend more than 50% of their income on food, and up to 20% on basic food.
b) The rising oil prices which contributes to the transportation cost of food leading to food price increases and cost of transport to ferry workers to work.
c) The high inflation rate that is currently eating on the take home pay of workers.
d) The continuous increase of the interest rate which had a major financial implication to the already highly indebted workforce.
e) The current energy crisis and Eskom`s intention to increase the price of Electricity by 60% and if this becomes a success it will hit hard on the workers and the poor. Fortunately the Energy Regulator suggested 14% percent which is still high
We hope the workers parliament will be able to pronounce on the said state of the economic situation.
This report was drafted under extremely difficult circumstances particularly as National Office Bearers had to initially spent most of their time attending to the Pick `n Pay dispute thereafter dedicate their time to the Woolworth Political Strike.
One was forced within a shot period time to take a snap short of the current organizational, political and economic situation challenging our movement and the Alliance Partners in general. One might have trampled on the toes of some comrade but it was not my intention.
On behalf of the Outgoing and Incoming National Office Bearers I must take this opportunity to wish the delegates well and hope that they will engage in robust debates that will shape this movement of Comrade Mama. Emma Mashinini and the late Comrade Stena Khaile.
AMANDLA! AMANDLA! AMANDLA! AMANDLA!
VIVA! SACCAWU! VIVA!
VIVA! ANC! VIVA
VIVA! SACP! VIVA
VIVA! COSATU! VIVA
VIVA! SANCO! VIVA