Stem jobs bloodbath – Cosatu
Union federation members march against retrenchments in Bay leg of national strike
“We want private companies to stop retrenching workers and the unemployed to finally get employment and for this country to grow the economy so that our people can stop living in poverty.”
This was the call made by members of Cosatu during the Nelson Mandela Bay leg of the national strike against job losses on Wednesday.
Hundreds of trade unionists joined in the march to the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton.
The marchers were addressed by Cosatu central executive committee member and National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) general secretary Zola Sephetha.
Cosatu was joined by members of its affiliates, including the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and Nehawu, as well as allies such as the SA National Civic Organisation and SA Communist Party.
Sephetha said Cosatu had decided in late 2018 to re-establish itself as an organisation that fought for workers.
“It’s our responsibility as the Eastern Cape to strengthen Cosatu because our president [Zingiswa Losi] is from here and we can’t have a weak structure in the metro where she’s from because that would be embarrassing.”
Sephetha said that one of the main causes of the present economic crisis was the looting by government officials and high-ranking members of the ANC.
“The looting that has taken place in this country has caused us to question who, in fact, has benefited from the freedom we received in 1994.
“As Cosatu we agreed that the only people who benefited were the bourgeoisie at the expense of the poor.”
Sephetha said the state capture inquiry must not just reveal the corrupt, but those implicated must be jailed.
“People are living in poverty, are poor and can’t get services because money goes to fill certain individuals’ pockets.
“We voted some of these in office ourselves and we’re going to vote for them again in May,” he said.
SACP provincial chair Mzoleli Mrara said everyone knew that when one person lost his or her job it affected about 10 family members.
“When you’ve been retrenched it’s hard leaving the gates of your workplace.
“You wonder what you’re going to tell the people when you get back home.”
Mrara said between 1996 and 2007, SA lost about 1.6m jobs and the only way to recover from this was through decisive leadership. ANC provincial executive committee member Zamuxolo Peter said the party’s presence at the march sought to demonstrate its commitment to advancing the revolution of the working class.
“We’ve noted with great concern the shedding of jobs, especially in the private sector.
“We need more investment and our president is crisscrossing the world trying to ensure the economy improves.”
Meanwhile, NMB Business Chamber CEO Nomkhita Mona said the chamber was concerned about the effects of a large-scale strike on the local economy.
The chamber had not received any reports of incidents from its member companies or on the individual impact of the strike.
“However, the cessation of work across several sectors means that business cannot operate at its full capacity, which can be damaging to the economy.
“The business chamber recognises and respects the right to strike as per the Labour Relations Act.
“We understand the cause behind this action, which is a protest against job losses.
“It is an important issue that affects us all,” Mona said.
Isuzu Motors SA spokesperson Denise van Huyssteen said it was business as usual as none of its employees were Cosatu members.
Volkswagen SA spokesperson Andile Dlamini said the company had not been affected during the morning shift.
By Wednesday afternoon, The Herald had received no indication that VW’s afternoon shift had been disrupted...