By Web Master
South Africa Federation of Trade Unions’ national executive is today meeting to chart the way forward on its heightened campaign against poverty wages and the dictatorship of white monopoly capital.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, SAFTU reiterated its position that the ruling African National Congress’
National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill, legislates and legitimises a poverty wage on which no-one should be expected to live.
“And amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Labour Relations Act will undermine trade unions’ independence and workers’ constitutional right to strike,” the statement reads. “The Federation made a submission to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour on 17 April 2018, which explained why we oppose these pieces of legislation and why they must be scrapped.”
SAFTU stated that they have written twice to the Portfolio Committee and all political parties in parliament.
“Only the EFF and UDM have bothered to engage us. The ruling party in whose name this assault on workers’ rights is taking place has simply ignored us the same way they ignore the 13, 000 service delivery protests a year, unless they turn violent,” they stated.
The Federation accused the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and other “sweetheart unions” of signing labour deals that were against the workers’ interests.
“The DoL (Department of Labour) director general, Thobile Lamati, has now responded in a media statement, saying that objections to the draft national minimum wage bill by the Wits University National Minimum Wage Research Initiative are ‘bordering on delusion’, and dismissed the concerns raised by the research group, saying it undermined the ‘intelligence’ of the parliamentary portfolio committee on labour and implied the department acted ‘insolently’.
His view is supported by COSATU’s parliamentary officer Matthew Parks,” SAFTU outlined.
The Federation described COSATU’so support for the retrogressive labour laws as scandalous.
“It has made SAFTU even more determined to join Nedlac, from which it has been bureaucratically excluded, so that the real voice of the workers can be heard and no more treacherous deals with government and employers will be signed,” the statement read further.
“The argument about precisely what changes the DoL did or did not make to the draft bills must be clarified, but it will not change SAFTU’s view that these bills are an all-out attack on the independence and democratic rights of unions and workers, and that the NMW Bill is a shameful capitulation to the employers who want to continue paying the lowest possible wages to their workers.”
SAFTU vowed to continue demanding for a living wage.
“SAFTU insists that the proposed minimum wage levels – R20, and just R18, R15 and R11 for farm, domestic and EPWP workers – entrench and legitimise poverty. Under pressure from SAFTU and its allies both President Ramaphosa and COSATU have now conceded that R20 an hour is not a living wage and therefore a poverty wage,” the Federation continued.
“This argument ignores the reality that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world, in which 10% of the population earn more than 50% of the household income while 20% earn less than 1.5%. Deloitte accountants have calculated that the average pay of executives in the country’s top 100 companies is now R17.97 million a year, which amounts to R69, 000 a day and R8, 625 an hour! Executives’ salaries have risen from 50 times to 500 times bigger than workers’ average wages, yet it is these grossly overpaid tycoons, together with their new champion in Union Buildings, multi-billionaire President Cyril Ramaphosa, who want workers and their families to survive on just R20 an hour. None of them would accept less than 100 times that amount!”
SAFTU says poverty pay and mass unemployment do not only represent a human tragedy for those directly affected, but they were among the main reasons for South Africa’s economic stagnation.
“A huge percentage of the population are virtually excluded from the economic life of the country, because they can only afford to buy the most basic essentials.
As former president Lula of Brazil proved, raising minimum wages and social grants led to an economic boom, as far more money was being spent, which turned the wheels of the economy and created more jobs to meet the higher demand for goods and services,” it elaborated. “It is time for the workers who create their nation’s wealth to rise up to win back a rightful share of that wealth, which the Freedom Charter declared must be shared by all the people. It is time to challenge the dictatorship of white monopoly capital and bring power to the people!”
SAFTU further called on workers to remain mobilised.
“We have called on workers to consider a two to three more days of a total shut down of the economy. We propose that this time working class as a whole will occupy all city centers and refuse to leave until the President and parliament agree to scrap all these labour Bills and introduce a R12, 500 minimum wage that will make a meaningful contribution to the struggle to end poverty and inequalities,” the statement read in part.