Letter from COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to COSATU affiliated unions and others, September 30 2011

Re: Postponement of the 5th October Strike Action – (Mobilisation around all the Campaigns to Continue) We refer to the texted messages and telephone discussions we have been having with the COSATU Affiliated unions and provinces regarding the strike action.

From these telephone discussions, we could discern that the majority of affiliated unions did not adequately mobilise their structures and membership to fully participate in the strike action. This means that forging ahead with the strike action places us at a great risk of low participation from workers.

The political risk of this is that this will set precedence where we can no longer use this weapon in future battles. This is despite the fact that the decision to mobilise for a strike action was taken at the 5th Central Committee in June and the date affirmed in the August CEC. The next CEC in November 2011 must discuss this matter to draw lessons and decide on a way forward.

The second reason for the postponement is that in the meeting of the NEDLAC Convenors, a majority decision was taken that the COSATU Section 77 1 (d) notice does not comply with the law. Both business and government
are of the view that the NEDLAC parties are still considering our demands on labour brokering. SACCAWU Deputy General Secretary reported to us that the employers in the retail sector are already issuing letters to workers advising them that the COSATU strike is not protected. Even though our lawyers are confident that they could thwart any attempt to interdict the strike action, the risk is that with the NEDLAC Convenors’ maiority decision, the court could rule in favour of the employers.

Efforts are underway to get the bosses to engage more directly with us on our labour brokering demands instead of outsourcing this responsibility to the labour brokers themselves. COSATU provinces have done lots of work and many of them have been holding build up actions on most of the campaigns. All provinces feel workers are fired up and want to participate. But all provinces admit that the unions have simply not provided support for the action. There has been no union media and there is no transport provided to members to participate in the marches. The NOBs have decided that the strike be postponed indefinitely until all the problems identified in this letter are addressed.

Having said that, we are of the view that the unions should continue to mobilise members around all the 14 campaigns under way. Accordingly we call on the unions and the provinces to do the following:
1. A joint COSATU and NACTU press conference will be convened for Monday the 3rd October 2011 where the decision to postpone will be communicated in public.
2. Ensure that workers in the Eastern Cape attend the Education campaign to adopt schools and to ensure all schools functions properly as per the guidelines contained in the Basic Education Accord signed by all stakeholders. All provinces must drive the campaign in each local, targeting all the schools identified as being the most dysfunctional. The Gauteng launch on the 23 October 2011 must be fully supported and a date for the Limpopo launch must be set.
3. Proceed on 5th October with lunch hour demonstrations in each workplace across the country. Where it is possible to organise marches, pickets and demonstrations in highly concentrated areas, we should do so and link our action to the international day on decent work and our demand for the banning of labour brokering system. Provinces must therefore inform us where these demonstrations will be held on Monday the 3rd October 2011.
4. All the campaigns including fighting against corruption, public transport system and discontinuation of the electronic tollgates, in support of Somali Day of action, in support of proudly SA campaign, etc must proceed into the festive season.
5. Unions must do more to support the campaigns by producing their own materials as agreed in the CEC. The union NOBs must take a political responsibility for the mobilisation of their own members and stop outsourcing this responsibility to the COSATU provinces. Those who want to take decisions and then preoccupy themselves with other issues are urged to cease this practise. We are looking forward to the evaluation of the campaign in the November CEC with lessons to be drawn from our ongoing campaigns.
Comradely yours
Zwelinzima Vavi
General Secretary