Cosatu threatens to leave ANC alliance over plans to retrench govt workers

President Cyril Ramaphosa,Pule Mabe and Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
President Cyril Ramaphosa,Pule Mabe and Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Cosatu threatens not to back the ANC in next year's elections if the ruling party continues to sabotage the aspirations of workers.

The labour federation is now seeking an urgent meeting with ANC's top six officials to iron out differences between the two alliance partners. Cosatu supported President Cyril Ramaphosa's bid to be the ANC president ahead of the party's national elective conference in December.

"We view the plans to retrench [government] workers as an act of ultimate betrayal, especially after the government's decision to increase VAT [value-added tax] after promising not to do so," Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told a media briefing in Johannesburg yesterday.

"This makes a mockery of the alliance. We therefore demand a moratorium on all retrenchments until the promised job summit has been held or we will pull out of the summit. A job summit will become redundant and useless if we continue to allow these job losses to continue unabated."

The trade union federation called on its affiliates to start mobilising in anticipation of the battle that lies ahead.

"The forces ranged against us are powerful, big business, imperialism and an obviously hostile government. We issue a call to all our members in the public service to prepare for a serious push back against the Treasury's austerity measures and the planned retrenchments."

Ntshalintshali warned that the ruling party will pay a heavy price for failing to balance the demands of capital and labour.

"We are not going to compromise on our firm demand for the economy to be restructured with a bias towards labour and the poor. The aspirations of the working class have to be reflected in the ANC government policies and programmes and, if the ANC rejects or dishonours those aspirations, there will be no need for us to be in an alliance."

He said Cosatu was worried about the influence finance capital has in dictating the government's macroeconomic policy decisions, adding that the Treasury was obsessed with pacifying the ratings agencies and foreign investors in the face of growing unemployment.

"This is happening at a time when the cost of living has been rising with severe impact on poor households. The VAT increase, corruption scandals, deepening poverty and unemployment constitute a setback for revolutionary forces and the working class in general.

"It is clear that the current balance of social and political forces in the country favours white monopoly capital that still maintains its stranglehold on the commanding heights of the economy. The failure by the ANC to reign in its National Treasury and monitor government, coupled with our flagging economy has further strengthened monopoly capital."

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